The Parish Council has complained to Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) about what it believes to be the illegal closure of the road outside Lower Farm. The road was closed on Friday by Thames Water to replace a fire hydrant.
Parish councillor Steve Brown, a retired civil engineer, has written to OCC’s traffic manager, Keith Stenning, seeking an explanation for what he claims is the illegal closure of the road between the village and Clifton Hampton bridge.
Cllr Brown says that the road works were not an emergency, as there was no leak. There was no advanced warning of the closure and there was “no excuse” for doing the work without what is known as a TTRO or Temporary Traffic Regulation Order.
Cllr Brown wrote: “The hydrant is only about 700mm from the edge of the road. There is plenty of space to have carried out the work under single way working controlled by signals. This would have kept traffic flowing and reduced the disruption to residents and businesses in the area. Appointments at the Clifton Hampton surgery were disrupted by the un-publicised road closure, as well as parents from the Clifton Hampden area collecting their children from school.”
Cllr Brown said that the road closure was “yet another example of the cavalier attitude of Thames Water to road closures in the area”. Twice before Christmas, road closed signs were put up along Didcot Road to for a new connection to the new housing development but on both occasions Thames Water failed to make an appearance or carry out any work.
“When the company eventually showed up it was in the middle of the Christmas embargo on street works and led to enormous disruption to two pubs in the village, The Plough Inn and the Vine and Spice. Bookings were lost because of the closure”.
The county council has powers to penalise Thames Water for disregarding legislation. The Parish Council looks forward to a response that confirms that the county and has taken “appropriate action”.
The road has now been left with signs around the hole so that traffic can pass with care, although signs throughout the village still say the road is closed except for access.