VILLAGERS have hit out at M40 improvements which have made them the ‘sacrificial lamb’ to Bicester’s expansion.

Residents in Wendlebury say constant hold-ups at Junction 9 of the M40 for Bicester mean satellite navigation systems continuously send drivers through the otherwise sleepy village.

In a bid to ‘save 17 minutes’ from the usual traffic jams of the M40 junction, with the A34 and A41 into Bicester, ‘uncaring drivers’ are rat-running through the village.

Wendlebury Parish Council chairman Tim Hibbert said it has been a long running problem for the village and has been raised constantly with the authorities over the past year.

A report released by Highways England last month admitted improvement works at Junction 9 had worsened traffic instead of bettering it.

Read the full details of the report here

The junction, off the A34 near Bicester, is one of many major roads reportedly made worse by the £317million project designed to tackle bottlenecks, it revealed.

Mr Hibbert said this came as no surprise for villagers in Wendlebury and rat-running has got progressively worse over the years.

He said: “Wendlebury, a small rural community suffers from rat running every time there is a hold up at Junction 9 or the A41 from Bicester to Junction 9.

“We know that [satellite navigation] diverts traffic through the village claiming to save drivers 17 minutes on their journey time.

Herald Series:

“Although the parish council have been working with Oxfordshire Highways to reduce speed limits to 20mph, this only slows down the traffic for safety.

“What is needed are measures to reduce the traffic flow around Junction 9 and on the A41 leading to it, and measures to prevent vehicles coming through the village.”

The Highways England report said the improvement works at Junction 9 had resulted in more congestion in that area and an estimated £1 million cost to the local economy.

Also read: Residents to discuss A41 danger concerns after fatal crash

The report, published as part of a one-year impact assessment, concluded that the problems were predominantly caused by the introduction of traffic lights.

A spokesman for Highways England said overall the scheme ‘was successful in tackling congestion at the busiest times of day and improving safety’. It is now looking how to improve this at other times of day.

Mr Hibbert added: “The proposed tinkering with the traffic lights will not achieve this objective.

“Once again, a small rural community is paying a loss of quality of life from increased noise, uncaring road users and increased air pollution.

“Our views are being ignored as the sacrificial lamb to Bicester’s ever continuing expansion.”

Read also: Woman denies failing to stop at the scene of fatal A34 crash

A Highways England spokesman added: “We encourage drivers to stick to main routes and not to rat run through local villages.

“We have completed two junction upgrades at the Wendlebury Interchange, each aimed at reducing peak time congestion.

“We are also taking forward work to improve road links between Oxford and Cambridge.

“We will continue to do everything we can in the meantime to keep the main routes flowing and prevent rat running and we welcome ideas from local groups.”