Villages along the Windrush Valley have pledged to step up the fight to have the divisive Burford town centre weight limit withdrawn.

Oxfordshire County Council has made the decision to allow the HGV ban to remain in place until at least February 2022.

Jan de Haldevang, committee member of the Windrush Valley Traffic Action Group (WiVTAG), said: “Despite OCC’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure stating publicly that our objections to the Burford scheme were well argued and convincing, the county have nonetheless allowed the weight restrictions at Burford to continue.”

An experimental weight limit order through the town centre went live in August 2020 with lorries exceeding 7.5 tonnes now forced to find alternative routes.

Residents have called for a ban since the early 1980s, with the measures expected to benefit road safety, tourism and the environment.

The order bans HGVs from the High Street between the A40 Burford roundabout to the A424/A361 Fulbrook mini-roundabout.

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

Residents say that preventing HGVs from using the town centre will help preserve Burford’s £15m tourism industry and reduce air pollution levels.

It will also lessen the damage to listed buildings, which make up 94 per cent of the High Street – the highest percentage in the UK.

But Mr de Haldevang said: “This is causing untold damage to the many minor roads across the Windrush valley and beyond, as drivers seek to find alternative routes.

"Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire are farming counties and farmers depend on haulage contractors to move livestock, grain and other materials. Some farms have found themselves almost marooned with no serviceable HGV route available to them.

"Local businesses are badly affected as well with some journeys being double what they were when the A361 through Burford was open to them.

"So much for OCC’s green credentials, as hundreds of lorry movements are now burning huge additional amounts of diesel and pumping many tonnes of nitrous oxide fumes into our towns and villages.”

He said the orrder imposes a 7.5 tonne weight limit on the A361 through Burford despite the bridge being structurally approved for up to 100 tonnes.

"Burford Town Council have long campaigned for the restrictions but were consistently refused by OCC until Burford offered to underwrite the costs of the traffic regulation order, the signage and the enforcement process," he added.

WiVTAG member Colin Carritt, a former OCC traffic engineer, said, “The Burford ban is at odds with the County Council’s own transport policies.

"It was strongly opposed by Thames Valley Police and it’s unfair to those local businesses who are not included in Burford’s exemption permit scheme.

"As a roads engineer for many years, I dread to think of the additional maintenance costs that OCC will incur in the forthcoming year as a result of road edge failures, pothole repairs and damaged drainage caused by the excessive numbers of HGVs now using inappropriate minor roads.”

WiVTAG has the support of 14 town and parish councils, one district council, several farms and over 50 businesses in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

An Oxfordshire County Council report provided an interim update on the scheme, following the end of a public consultation that drew to a close in February.

Using the report and officer’s recommendations, the council’s cabinet member for travel and development strategy – Duncan Enright – decided to continue with the ban until February, to allow for ‘further monitoring’ this autumn.

Cllr Enright told the Oxford Mail: “The recent decision to review arrangements regarding the weight limit on Burford bridge was caused by concern about displacement of heavy goods traffic to neighbouring river crossings, including Witney and Crawley.

"Our monitoring work in the coming months will determine whether changes are needed to the routing of freight road traffic.”