An open letter to councillors in Oxfordshire County Council

By Alison Hill, Chair of Cyclox, Brenda Boardman and Simon Pratt Co-Chairs of CoHSAT

Dear County Councillor,

Congratulations on your election to Oxfordshire County Council.  

The Coalition of Healthy Streets and Active Travel (CoHSAT) is a group of voluntary and campaigning organisations working across Oxfordshire to create attractive, accessible and people-friendly streets. We want to see a future where everyone is able to walk and cycle for everyday trips on quiet streets and in liveable neighbourhoods, and where no-one has to own a car because there is always an alternative form of transport. 

In the run up to the election we invited you to support our manifesto and commit to putting walking and cycling at the heart of your plans for a fairer, healthier future. We are so grateful to the many of you who contributed. You may well have influenced voters who want to see active travel and public transport prioritised and nurtured. 

Our manifesto asks are:

  • Ring-fence at least 10% of the total transport budget for active travel
  • Create 15-minute neighbourhoods
  • Prioritise disadvantaged communities in transport policy and investment
  • Take immediate action to make local transport zero-carbon and improve air quality to WHO standards
  • Apply the sustainable transport hierarchy to all transport and planning policy 
  • Ensure that car-dependency is reduced in existing developments and new developments 
  • Expand the Strategic Active Travel Network 
  • Provide a comprehensive system of zero-emission public transport services, particularly in rural areas.
  • Reduce private car trips across the County 
  • Ensure all road improvement projects make streets safe, not just safer 
  • Progressively reduce public and private car parking spaces in town and city centres 
  • Oppose any major road expansion

The county council has 63 councillors and already the majority of you have supported the first ten of these measures. This majority should increase when those of you who haven’t yet completed our survey, decide to do so.  So this gives us hope that the new council will be transformative and brave. If we have to have more houses, this has to be achieved while decreasing the amount of traffic on the roads. 

As we recover from the pandemic, we can’t return to the old patterns of travel. Change is imperative and your election, and a new administration, are a pivotal moment for Oxfordshire. We are looking to you to support a transport system that works for everyone, is fair, healthy and minimises carbon emissions. Given the urgency of the climate emergency, we want to see a commitment to zero carbon in Oxfordshire by 2040 and a coherent set of policies to deliver this. Transport is a major contributor to carbon emissions, as well as creating air pollution and congestion, so the future has to be investment in cycling, walking and public transport.  

Given the weight of support, we are looking to you and the new administration to sign up to this manifesto for active travel and liveable streets. Now you are in a position to influence policy in your council, we urge you to press for the necessary changes that will enable the delivery of these commitments – commitments that you gave. We will work alongside you in ensuring that delivery.

Yours sincerely,

Brenda Boardman and Simon Pratt Co-chairs of the Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel

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