Councillors discuss the future of Oxfordshire’s transport with Minister for Transport George Freeman
Transport Minister George Freeman met with City Council Cabinet Member Alex Hollingsworth and County Councill Leader Ian Hudspeth to hear how the councils are working together on a low-carbon transport future for the county.
Better transport connections and lower carbon and nitrogen dioxide emissions are at the centre of future transport plans from the two councils. Current policies to improve emission standards in Oxford’s bus fleets led to several years of falling air pollution levels but in the last year these have levelled off, and congestion in and around Oxford means that morning rush hour journeys are now slower than in 2012. New programmes to tackle these issues, from support for electric vehicles to incentives to use public transport are the focus of regional transport policies.
With increasing numbers of people travelling into a small medieval city for work and leisure, congestion management is a vital issue. The councils are working together on ways to reduce congestion, through measures to encourage more people onto buses, rail and cycle networks. Proposals will be put forward for consultation this autumn.
A Zero Emission Zone in central Oxford aims to tackle air pollution and protect the health of everyone who lives in, works in and visits the city. The benefit of zero emissions vehicles will be felt not only in the city but across the whole of the routes they travel.
Oxfordshire has become a hub for developing smart travel technologies by using our transport network as a “Living Lab” and by supporting innovation beyond just vehicle manufacturing, with businesses offering the test facilities, measurement, cybersecurity and smart infrastructure that provide an essential mix for bringing forward new travel technologies.
Minister for the Future of Transport, George Freeman MP, said:
“UK leadership in transport technology is helping to make transport greener, safer and more reliable & convenient.
“The great work being done here in Oxfordshire is increasing the uptake of electric vehicles, promoting smart transport technologies and attracting inward investment to create the jobs of tomorrow.
“With world class companies like Oxbotica, a global leader in self driving technology, investing here we have the potential to build a world class cluster. As the PM made clear in his first speech, the new Government has made innovation for connectivity a priority and we will shortly be announcing a series of initiatives to support this vital sector. “
Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Oxford City Council Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Transport, said:
“Oxford is leading the way on innovation to address the environmental impacts of how we travel. This was a great opportunity to demonstrate to the Minister the ways we are rising to the challenge of future transport needs, and to discuss the transport challenges for the city and workforce in the future. Bold measures are needed to address traffic congestion within the constraints of our medieval city.”
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council said “We were delighted that the new transport minister came to Oxfordshire to see for himself the fast-growing transport technology sector. We are making the most of the technological know-how in our excellent universities and energetic start-up community. But I am also convinced that our success is driven by the environmental concerns of people living and working in Oxfordshire who want to see transport that is both better and cleaner, with the county becoming an exciting test-bed for future technologies.”