It was great to welcome the new CEO of East West Rail, Beth West, to Bicester this morning.
Having met Beth virtually earlier this year, I was keen to invite her up to Bicester. I took Beth to London Road, where she was able to see for herself how busy the crossing is. I reiterated how important London Road is for residents of Bicester and the surrounding area as a key route through the town.
After visiting the crossing, I was pleased to chair a roundtable discussion between EWR and a cross-party group of Bicester town, district and county councillors. This was a great opportunity to raise local concerns with the senior leadership of EWR directly.
Beth told us that EWR are still working through the responses to last year’s consultation on the crossing, as a result of the sheer number of responses received. EWR have been left under no illusion as to the strength of local feeling on this important issue.
The councillors and I made clear that it is vital EWR do not cut the town in half by simply closing the crossing without a proper solution in place. Beth gave welcome assurances that EWR are committed to working with the local community to find a viable solution which avoids that outcome.
I think it is important to move the conversation on London Road away from ifs and buts and on to real, practical solutions. In this vein, we had a productive discussion on a range of possible solutions. EWR committed to come back to us with more detailed plans on the most viable options. We have agreed to meet again to discuss these plans in two months’ time.
The London Road crossing has been an issue which I have worked on since I was first elected. While we were all in agreement that Beth’s assurances today are a welcome step in the right direction, we must now get some concrete plans on the table. I will continue to hold EWR to account until a proper solution is found for Bicester once and for all.