A MEETING of Risinghurst residents was split over re-opening an entrance into the estate but heard widespread calls for a new crossing.

Oxfordshire County Council closed off the central reservation A40 gap – one of two ways into the estate – in May over safety fears.

Transport chief Rodney Rose heard contrasting views on reopening it at a public meeting, but uniform support for a pedestrian crossing.

But he told angry residents that it would have to compete for funding with other county schemes.

There is a dropped kerb and waiting point in the central reservation close to the closed gap, but no formal crossing or traffic lights.

Stanway Road resident Barrie Vernon told Tuesday’s meeting at Collinwood Road United Reformed Church: “It ought to stay as it is.

“I wouldn’t want it on my conscience that I turned round and said ‘open it up’ and some poor person got killed.”

Terry Roper, of Claymond Road, Barton, warned the lack of a crossing is an “accident waiting to happen”.

He said: “If you don’t listen to the people who want a pedestrian crossing, then maybe the council will have blood on its hands.”

Mahesh Gandhi, of Risinghurst Post Office and General Store in Downside Road, warned the business is at risk from the gap closure.

Calling for a crossing, he said: “In the last two months I have noticed a decline, people have stopped coming from Barton and Sandhills.”

And Karl Room, franchisee of McDonald’s in London Road, said staff had been cut as sales were down six to eight per cent.

The church’s Rev Dick Wolff said: “We have lost members of the church here, elderly members who find it easier to go by bus to the city centre than risk their life and limb crossing here.”

The meeting also heard concerns that cars and buses are not sticking to the 30mph speed limit on the A40.

Ringwood Road resident Angela Fensom told Mr Rose: “You should put that crossing in, that is the important issue here, now the traffic is moving faster when that junction is closed.”

Of concerns that closing the gap lengthened journey times, she said: “So what? If that saves the life of a child, I’m happy with ten more minutes.”

Conservative Mr Rose said there appeared to be a “consensus” over the crossing but warned cash is limited.

Amidst angry clashes, he said: “I can’t spend every penny I have got for road safety in Risinghurst. I haven’t got that money.”

A £150,000 pedestrian crossing with lights and automated further lights for estate traffic is “not an option at the moment” he said.

Yet he said a £70,000 pedestrian crossing could be paid for from county and parish councillors’ budgets.

It would still need his approval, and the case could be hit by plans for four A40 crossings if 1,200 homes are approved for Barton, he said.