New ANPR cameras launched to protect historic bridge on the Thames
Oxfordshire County Council is investing in new high tech cameras to protect Newbridge, a listed Medieval structure on the A415.
It’s the first time that Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras are being used to enforce a road weight restriction in the county. The cameras use optical character recognition on images to read vehicle registration.
No vehicles of any kind which have a “Maximum Gross Weight” of more than 18 tonnes are permitted to cross it. 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.
Councillor Judith Heathcoat, deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council said: “The County Council is committed to protecting this irreplaceable historic bridge and this technology allows us to do just that. We are responding to concerns from the local community and are alerting drivers of heavy vehicles so they can find other routes.”
Helping drivers of heavy vehicles plan alternative routes
Oxfordshire County Council has also added new road signs in the area to alert drivers to the weight restriction and enforcement activity. Trading Standards officers are proactively monitoring the bridge and enforcing the weight limit. Overweight vehicles” using the bridge can be fined up to £1000.
Drivers of heavy vehicles can find help at the Freight Gateway – an internet tool which will help with route planning. You can access the Freight Gateway and other information on Oxfordshire County Council weight restriction enforcement at:
Elsewhere in the County, we are working with neighbourhood groups, investigating public reports and carrying out proactive checks to protect Oxfordshire's roads and bridges and safeguard local communities from misuse of roads by heavy vehicles.
Protecting the county’s historic heritage
The use of the cameras will help to protect the bridge and extend its useful life – minimising the need for expensive repairs, which like maintenance are paid by council tax and businesses rates.
Newbridge is a 13th century bridge, one of two oldest surviving bridges across the Thames. It was built by Benedictine monks from Deerhurst Prior 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.