A COUNCILLOR has defended making a U-turn on a change which will see traffic lights replace a set of mini roundabouts.

Councillor Mick Haines has been vocal about his opposition about the imminent works at the junctions of Cherwell Drive, Headley Way, Marsh Lane and Marston Road. which forms part of Oxfordshire County Council’s controversial Access to Headington programme.

The city councillor for Marston backed a letter also signed by other councillors in the ward published in the Oxford Mail in July 2015.

In it, Mr Haines joined current city councillor Mary Clarkson, along with then city councillor Roy Darke and then county councillor Mark Lygo and Old Marston Parish Council’s clerk, Tim Cann, in backing the replacement of the mini-roundabouts and a new pedestrian crossing near the John Radcliffe Hospital as ‘the only two sensible proposals’ in Access to Headington.

The project will move into its third phase on January 22 and nine months of roadworks will begin at the entrance of the hospital.

But Mr Haines said he had changed his mind on the lights plan after carrying out two traffic surveys over the last year – and noting the impact that mini-roundabouts have had in Oxford city centre in Frideswide Square.

He said: “I changed my mind because I did traffic surveys through there and I found that traffic could still keep moving with the roundabouts.

“What I really thought about it was that around Frideswide Square when traffic lights to changed to the roundabouts it proved that it could keep (traffic) going.

“The council is going to cause an awful lot of disruption.”

Mr Haines said a petition he started has now been backed by 200 people.

He added: “They’ve said: ‘Why this is being done I don’t know.’ The roads around Marston are terrible and that money could be used instead of wasting it on these traffic lights.”

The county council’s contractors Skanska will begin preparing for work tomorrow before it gets underway.

Last week the chairman of Old Marston Parish Council said the county

council had sidelined his ward.

He said: “Traffic is an issue in Marston already. One of the concerns is the impact at Cherwell Drive because the roads have not been maintained and nothing will be done about that.

“There are concerns about how the work could cause more congestion with the traffic lights making the traffic worse and slowing things down.”

The council said work will still go ahead. Spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “We believe that the proposed changes will bring improvements. The programme is designed to provide an attractive alternative to using a car and part of that is making crossing the road safer and easier."