First anniversary of Newbridge CCTV… Dramatic fall in overweight vehicles helps preserve important transport link
Residents in Newbridge are benefitting from a dramatic fall in the number of overweight vehicles using a medieval road bridge across the Thames, after Oxfordshire County Council installed high-tech CCTV a year ago.
While the cameras were under test, in September 2017, 90 overweight vehicles were caught on Newbridge, part of the A415. By July 2018 (the best month so far) only 19 were caught.
Between 30 September and 12 October, this year, not a single overweight vehicle was caught on the bridge.
By monitoring and restricting heavy vehicles over Newbridge – one of the oldest crossing the Thames – the council hopes to reduce the risk of structural damage, the need for costly repairs, and improve efficiency of road infrastructure.
Oxfordshire County Council officially ‘switched on’ Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras on 19 October 2017 as part of its commitment to improve and protect transport links.
The cameras use optical character recognition on images to read vehicle registrations. No vehicles, of any kind, that have a ‘Maximum Gross Weight’ of more than 18-tonnes are permitted to cross the bridge.
Every vehicle identified is traced back to its registered keeper by the county council’s Trading Standards team, and 515 warning letters have been issued to registered keepers and drivers.
The county council prefers to deal with most breaches with advice and warnings. The level of re-offending is low but significant breaches and persistent offenders are considered for prosecution.
A maximum fine of £1,000 can be levied by Magistrates for a breach. So far, six of the most serious breaches have resulted in the prosecution of drivers, resulting in £2,473 in fines and costs.
The fines do not come to the county council but the costs recovered from convicted drivers are fed straight back into enforcement. A significant number of cases are currently under active investigation, with others awaiting a decision to prosecute.
Kate Davies, from Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards, said: “We are committed to protecting this irreplaceable historic bridge, a key part of our transport infrastructure, and this technology allows us to do just that.
“The bridge now needs less maintenance and fewer repairs, benefitting residents and council tax payers. Repair costs come from council resources.”
Drivers of heavy vehicles can find help at the Freight Gateway, an internet tool which helps with route planning. Details can be found on Oxfordshire County Council’s website:
History of Newbridge
Newbridge is a 13th century bridge, one of two oldest surviving bridges across the Thames. It was built by Benedictine monks from Deerhurst Priory on the orders of King John to improve access between the wool towns in the south of England, and the Cotswold farms. During the Civil War, the bridge was the scene of a battle when Parliamentarian William Waller attempted to cross it to surround Oxford and capture King Charles, but was defeated.
Over time, infractions have led to damage to this fragile structure that wasn’t designed to carry modern traffic, although weight restrictions have been in place since 2006.
Since CCTV was introduced at Newbridge last November, 628 overweight vehicles have been caught on camera; 358 of these were during 2018.