VILLAGERS are mobilising to crack down on an increase in lorries using their rural roads.

Residents will be surveying The Green in the centre of Leafield, near Witney, for the next two weeks as they count unwanted HGV traffic.

They claim the cause is Burford's 18-month experimental weight limit order that went live in August, which forces vehicles exceeding 7.5 tonnes to find alternative routes.

Parish councillor Richard Hamilton is co-ordinating up to 30 volunteers with the surveys and wants to stop the issue getting out of hand.

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He said: "There have always been concerns about speeding, but in the last month a number of villagers have been talking about an increase in lorries.

"We have a school in the centre of the village with parking and drop-off on the main road.

"We don't want to get to a point where someone gets injured.

"This is something that will probably grow as an issue, so the next two weeks are the start."

Leafield is about six miles from Burford by road, with only firms within 4.8 miles of the town able to apply for permits exempting them from the order.

All other HGVs are banned from the High Street, between the A40 Burford roundabout to the A424/A361 Fulbrook mini-roundabout.

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They use Barns Lane from its junction at Burford roundabout, as well as Tanners Lane from the A40.

After speaking to firms whose lorries are being diverted through Leafield, villager Deborah Triff has sympathy.

She said: "These local companies are exasperated by the lack of a plan to get them from A to B.

"They don't want to be coming through Leafield – if two trucks meet each other there's not enough room for them to pass.

"I feel really sorry for them."

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Her feelings were echoed by Rhys Williams, regional operations manager of the Road Haulage Association.

He said: "We warned Burford Town Council that they were forcing HGVs from A-roads onto country lanes.

"That's what we're seeing in Leafield and we'll see more of it, because the detour to get to deliveries is costing our industry money.

"The permit scheme is farcical."

Residents have wanted HGVs to be banned from their historic High Street since the early 1980s, with the measures expected to benefit road safety, tourism and the environment.

Oxfordshire County Council will carry out three surveys in Burford during the 18-month order and a decision must be made by February 2022.

Burford mayor John White said: "I don't remember them expressing objections during the public meetings and consultations."

"We were allowed to devise a permit scheme purely for the benefit of Burford-based businesses as they would need some degree of elasticity.

"A 4.8-mile radius is extraordinarily generous compared to schemes elsewhere."

County council spokesman Marc Evans said: "We are due to monitor the impact of the restrictions six months after they started, which will be in February next year. There is no commitment for Oxfordshire County Council to implement specific routes but we do need to report back to cabinet members on the overall impact as this is an 18-month experimental traffic order."