Business briefing: County council budget offers new investment in transport and sustainable travel

Proposals for a business-friendly “investment budget” that focuses on improvements to infrastructure and sustainable travel have been published by Oxfordshire County Council.

The county council proposes to spend £30 million in 2020/21 from its capital budget on repairs to roads, bridges, drainage and footways across Oxfordshire’s towns and villages, with major schemes scheduled in Banbury, Abingdon and Witney.

New funding of £3 million per year is proposed to improve local road safety and accessibility, including new pedestrian crossings, improved junctions and better bus stop facilities. These measures are designed to encourage walking and cycling as part of the council’s commitment to improving air quality and active lifestyles.

Responding to climate change features prominently across budget proposals, including support for sustainable travel such as improving park and ride services on the A40, and the roll-out energy-efficient streetlight.

Key points for business

Sustainable transport investment

We are proposing to develop a new service to help employers create sustainable travel plans to ensure bus, cycling and walking routes are integral to new housing and business property developments.

Our policy is that all transport improvement schemes include cycling facilities wherever possible – this supports the work we are doing to tackle congestion on the roads and encourage people to use sustainable transport.

The council plans to spend £32 million on the A40 bus lane and park and ride, £6.5 million investment in the Botley Road will all result in infrastructure that will make sustainable transport more attractive to more people.

Major capital projects we are current delivering or will shortly start work on, funded through Section 106, Local Growth Fund and Growth Deal include:

  • £4 million on the Science Vale Cycle Network to improve pedestrian and cycle access
  • £9.5 million on the Botley Road corridor improvements including walking, cycling and buses
  • £0.8 million on the A361 safety improvements with a new shared path
  • £4 million on Riverside routes in Oxford improving non-road cycle routes
  • £1.1 million on connections to Oxford Station includes pedestrian and cycle improvements
  • £32 million A40 Science Transit 2 includes an improved path for cyclists
  • £5.9 million A40 Oxford North project including improvements for cyclists

Highway maintenance programme

The county council proposes to spend £30 million in 2020/21 from its capital budget on repairs to roads, bridges, signs and lines, drainage and footways. Major schemes on the programme for the coming financial year include: Oxford Road in Banbury; Northcourt Road in Abingdon; Burwell Drive and West End, both in Witney.

Reactive maintenance to ensure that Oxfordshire’s roads operate safely continues as normal – that means things like pothole filling, drain clearance, and streetlight repairs. This year we are also putting extra resources – around £0.3 million – into sign-cleaning and clearing vegetation clearing to improve visibility.

Climate change

The county council has already reduced its own carbon emissions by 50 per cent since 2008 and is now ramping up its efforts to become carbon neutral by 2030. Oxfordshire is already the best county for recycling in the country.

The budget proposal include a £0.7 million investment in “pump-priming” so that the council can implement new ways of working that will bring cash and carbon savings. This work will include renewable energy generation, improved energy efficiency of our buildings and enabling “cleaner” staff travel.

The council’s new electric vehicle purchasing policy will switch our car and van fleet to electric wherever possible. Over the next five years we will be spending £40 million replacing 56,000 bulbs with new LED technology which will not only provide excellent quality lighting but also drastically cut the amount we pay for electricity and greatly reduce our carbon footprint.

School investment

Housing growth in Oxfordshire means that developers will be providing money, through part of the planning process known as Section 106 agreements, which enables us to provide the extra pupil places needed locally. An additional £50 million has been added to the capital programme over ten years.

Business feedback

The county council is inviting feedback from employers on the budget proposals before all councillors vote on revised proposals on 11 February. To comment on the budget proposals go to the online consultation from at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/budget or email budget@oxfordshire.gov.uk. The deadline for comments is Wednesday 29 January 2020.