Layla Moran has criticised the Secretary of State for Transport in the House of Commons for failing to consult the public before making a key decision on the corridor for the controversial Oxford – Cambridge Expressway.
In response to a question from Ms Moran, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling confirmed that no public consultation would take place before he decides later this summer on which ‘corridor’ the new road will follow.
Three corridor options have been put forward by Highways England:
- Corridor option A would see the road routed from Abingdon, south of Oxford and via Thame and Leighton Buzzard before reaching the south of Milton Keynes and Bedford
- Corridor option B would see the road go around either the north or south of Oxford, before going near Bicester and Winslow before reaching Milton Keynes
- Corridor option C is similar to option B, but the road would be routed via Buckingham once it reaches the Bicester area
The Department for Transport will make a decision this summer on which corridor the Expressway will follow.
Once that decision has been made, a number of proposed routes will be developed by Highways England before the public consultation process begins.
Layla said the corridor decision was a vitally important one that could rule in or rule out the possibility of the Expressway being routed through Botley, possibly requiring the demolition of homes there, or whether the new road could affect the Otmoor nature reserve.
Layla Moran said:
“It is shocking that a major decision like this will be taken without any public consultation. Frankly, it’s just not good enough.
“Not withstanding that there are serious concerns about whether we need this new road at all - and whether investment would be better spent electrifying East-West rail and improving other public transport links - it's vital that there's greater transparency over the process given that the public won’t be consulted until after the corridor decision is made.
“It’s all well and good for the Government to promise a public consultation in several years’ time when specific routes have been proposed – but that could well be too little too late for homes in Botley and the environment around Abingdon and the rest of any proposed corridor.
“I’ve already invited Chris Grayling’s deputy, Roads Minister Jesse Norman, to visit Botley to listen to the concerns of residents and councillors. Sadly, the Minister hasn’t confirmed a date yet. It’s imperative that this visit happens before Transport ministers make a decision on the corridor for the Expressway. I won’t be letting this one lie.”