Residents will have seen the Temporary Traffic Regulation Order that was issued by OCC Highways department on February 15th, announcing this closure, summary details of which were published in the Banbury Guardian. This was also the first time that the Parish Council [PC] was made aware of this closure proposal.
All matters related to the administration of roads and highways are the exclusive responsibility of the County Council, and we understand there is no requirement for advance consultation or appeal process for such orders. The influence and voice of your PC is therefore completely negated in this instance.
The reason for the closure is now well known, but to confirm, it is to enable the connection of the foul water sewer from the Garners Field development into the main sewer that runs under Main Street and all the way to the sewage treatment works at Cropredy. Because of the nature of this sewer it is necessary to run the new pipe down Main Street for a distance of roughly 50 metres before it joins the existing sewer on the other side of the road to the development just before The Bell public house.
Recognising that the proposed closure of Main Street for up to 6 weeks would cause huge inconvenience to all residents of both Great and Little Bourton, particularly those living on Main Street the PC has discussed the matter with both Hayfield Homes and OCC.
Their response is that the connection manhole and new pipe that runs down Main Street will need to be in a trench over 3 metres deep and it would be unsafe and in breach of construction regulations to do this work with half of the road open to any traffic. It would create an unsafe working environment for construction workers and equipment, and put the trench at risk of collapse.
Your PC is especially concerned about one of the proposed diversionary routes using School Lane, Foxden Way and Spring Lane as this is a very narrow country lane entirely unsuitable to continuous or heavy traffic. It should also be noted that the contractor is legally obliged to maintain continuous access to all properties in the construction area.
In view of the recent extreme weather we have also asked that both diversion routes be added to the OCC gritting schedules to ensure that they are safe. We are awaiting a response which we will urgently follow up.
The PC has urged Hayfield Homes to encourage their contractor, Norcon Construction, to work as speedily as possible and providing they experience no problems and the weather is reasonable, it is anticipated that the work could be finished in about 4 weeks.
Having understood the extent of the required works, the Parish Council can only agree that providing a safe working environment for the workers is paramount but will work with Hayfield Homes to ensure that the duration is as short as possible.