Letter to the editor, published September 17.

SHEILA Spencer’s letter (September 16) gives me an opportunity to write about the issue of rat-running (cars taking short cuts through residential streets) in the South of Oxford.

She is absolutely right that Beauchamp Lane, a beautiful small street in Cowley is used as a rat run. Its narrow pavements and high Cotswold stone walls make it particularly dangerous for fast-moving traffic.

I tried to persuade the developer of the revamped Cowley Centre to set aside money to close off the Lane, but that pot of money was, against my demands, earmarked for changes to Between Towns Road.

Thanks to Government cutbacks, the County has had no money directly to invest in minor road improvements and these are always paid for out of developer, parish council, local organisation and similar funding. Big projects like Access to Headington are funded mainly from government grants while the proposed Controlled Parking Zones are funded largely by a Community Infrastructure Levy – funding from developers of housing projects.

Over the last two years, however, County Councillors have been able to spend £30,000 each on projects in their own areas. I would have liked to spend my allocation on children’s centres and local groups and was able to spend a little on these, but I am spending most of it on the traffic calming measures on Littlehay Road and Rymers Lane.

The reason for this is that there have in recent years been on average three injury accidents per year at the junction. Recently, two cars caromed into each other at the crossing, hospitalising a passing cyclist. I cannot wait idly by until someone is actually killed at the crossing.

The new measures should slow traffic down to walking pace at this, the worst rat run in Oxford. However, I agree that this is not good enough. I would like to see various streets in the area become a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN), where – for example – traffic in streets like Beauchamp Lane, Westbury Crescent, and Crescent Road is limited to residents-only access.

Some of my council colleagues and I will be visiting Waltham forest later this month to see how a LTN can be successful. However, even a basic LTN costs money and there is precious little sign of Government funding coming forth at the moment.


County Councillor for Cowley