The decision to make many of Abingdon’s roads 20mph has been delayed, after bus operators raised concerns about the scheme.

On November 17, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highway management, councillor Andrew Gant, approved 11 new 20mph schemes across the county.

The changes will see the majority of 30mph roads cut to 20mph.

READ MORE: Work begins on Oxford's The Plain to improve it for cyclists

Herald Series: The roads which could be made 20mph in AbingdonThe roads which could be made 20mph in Abingdon (Image: Oxfordshire County Council)

These decisions follow the implementation of new default 20mph speed limits in Witney earlier this month.

The changes were slammed as “confusing” by residents because the new signs were placed directly next to old ones, with Witney MP Robert Courts calling it "a shambolic farce”.

During the November 17 meeting, the decision for Abingdon was deferred until a later date to “ensure that the needs of all highway users are met in an effective manner” after bus operators objected to the project.

A council document revealed Oxford Bus Company’s interim managing director, Luke Marion, objected to the scheme because the lower speeds could reduce journey times.

“Buses need to make progress where they can, in order to be a viable and attractive alternative to private cars and to attract patronage in order to help to achieve the council's stated objectives to remove one in four car journeys,” he said.

Mr Marion added the “proposals will be highly likely to lead to a material reduction in bus services in Abingdon”.

The document also contained concerns from Stagecoach West, which ceased operating in Abingdon in January.

“While we are not an operator here, we are naturally extremely interested in the application of the policy in this locality inasmuch as this indicates the evolving thinking of the Council in its approach with much more broad implications.

“Were we still to be an operator, we would be making strong representations, along similar lines to the response we submitted to the Witney consultation,” the company said.

Herald Series: The scheme makes sense according to one Abingdon councillor The scheme makes sense according to one Abingdon councillor (Image: PA)

Speaking at the meeting, Nathan Ley, the Lib Dem councillor for Abingdon North, said he appreciated the bus operators concerns but council polices are not driven by such concerns.

He said: “Residential 20mph zones just make sense. Noise levels will reduce, the chances of collisions with other road users would decrease and all in all residential areas will move back towards being what they once were: neighbourhoods.

“Not race tracks designed to accommodate the ever increasing number of cars on the road and this proposal pushes back gently against that inevitability.

“I understand the reasons the bus companies have put forward their objections, I really do. But our policies are fundamentally driven by safety, health and trying to promote modal shift rather than trying to make the bus companies more profitable for their shareholders.”


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This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing:

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