THE CLA Game Fair brought Oxfordshire’s roads to a standstill will return to the county next year – and every three years after, it has emerged.

In 2008, the event attracted more than 151,000 people to Blenheim Place, near Woodstock, over the course of three days and generated £13.2m for the local economy.

However, on the Friday there was gridlock for several hours in Oxford and around the county as tens of thousands of drivers converged on Blenheim, while an overturned car on the A34 north of Pear Tree added to the problems.

Last night a town councillor said it was “absolutely essential” an effective traffic management plan was in place for next year’s event.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which organised the event, said lessons had been learned and a traffic plan was being put together to prevent a repeat of the problems, when it returns from July 22-24 2011.

Game Fair Director David Hough said: “We are exceptionally sorry for what happened last time.

“We do not want to cause problems for people... and if we thought we could not overcome the traffic problems we would not be coming back to Blenheim.

“The main reason for the traffic was an accident at the Pear Tree Roundabout on the Friday.

“We are in the process of introducing a series of changes... so if there is a problem like we had at Pear Tree we are able to deal with it.”

Mr Hough said his organisation was in discussions with police, the county council and the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) for West Oxfordshire about changing the routing of traffic to the event in 2011.

Last year a review by the SAG concluded that the impact of traffic attending the event on the first day was unacceptable. However, Mr Hough said mitigating measures were already being put in place to alleviate the jams including: providing car parking spaces for another 5,000 vehicles to help get vehicles in and out more quickly; opening up four new access points; and setting up a traffic committee to seek the opinions of local people.

A plan for a park and ride scheme has so far been ruled out.

Woodstock town councillor and former mayor Peter Jay said: “If you plan only for no accidents you are very unrealistic.

“After the disaster that happened not just to Woodstock but to the whole of Oxfordshire last time, having an effective traffic management plan... is absolutely essential for the county and district councils.”

A joint statement released by the councils and police said: “The CLA will be responsible for working with Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police to produce a robust traffic management plan.”