A FORMER Abingdon businessman has launched a £10,000 independent review of the town's controversial new traffic scheme after blaming it for a drop in trade.

Steve King, who owns properties in the town, is leading the campaign to get the two-way system reversed to how it was 18 months ago.

His study is starting this week.

Mr King said: "I have taken it upon myself to bring to the attention of the appropriate authorities the problems the new traffic system is causing, not just to the residents of Abingdon and neighbouring villages but also the business community "The majority of them have seen a massive downturn in their trade since its introduction."

Mr King has already gathered a 200-strong petition from traders calling for the roads to be returned to a one-way traffic system around the town centre.

He has now instructed an independent traffic management consultancy company to undertake a survey of the scheme this week.

He hoped to have the results for a meeting on Tuesday of Oxfordshire County Council at which he will press for a return to the previous system.

It is thought that the survey could cost up to £10,000 and Mr King has appealed for local businesses to come forward to help with the cost.

Last week, the Herald set up an online poll to find out how many people wanted Abingdon's traffic system reversed, to which 87 per cent of people voted yes.

The new system has been blamed by traders for a marked decline in business.

About 20 shops stand vacant in the town centre, including the Stead & Simpson shoe shop in the precinct, which closed on Monday.

Robert Boorman, who lives in Abingdon, would like to see a residents' petition to add to the voice of the traders.

He said: "The town is being destroyed by the incompetence of the county council and it will be made worse by the development of the Old Gaol. It's just an unmitigated disaster.

"It just needs rational people to put enough energy together so that the council will see."

Ian Hudspeth, Oxfordshire County Council's transport chief, said the traffic system was constantly being reviewed.

He said: "Abingdon is a market town that, in common with many in England, was not designed to cope with the amount of traffic that is now on our roads.

"As such, it must be remembered that the town suffered traffic problems before the new system came into being and there is no magic wand to change that situation.

"The county council was supported by the Vale of White Horse District Council and Abingdon Town Council in implementing the current system."

He added: "The location of the Bridge Street traffic lights is due to change soon and this also needs to be taken into account as part of that process of continued review.

"Obviously we will be keen to study the results of the independent review." Mr King has already set up an online web forum - action4abingdon.org - for residents to chat about town issues.

To contact Mr King, email him at action4abingdon@ btopenworld.com