CAUTION AT THE NEW TESCO STORE
UPDATE 13TH APRIL 2016 - We have today received this statement from Oxfordshire County Council Highways Department advising that they now recognise this issue and are addressing it by closing the left hand filter lane using temporary signs until further notice. It might be last minute, it might not be pretty but it will make our roads safer. Well done everyone who helped bring this to the 'powers that be' attention. Including residents: Mr P Hennessey, Mr J Smith, Mrs A Loveland; Councillors Sibley and Magee and many others including the Oxford Mail and Tesco. Thank you!
Bicester once dubbed as 'Tesco Town', is excitedly awaiting the opening of our new and much larger Tesco superstore on Thursday 14th April 2016 because as a growing town we desperately need enhanced retail relevant to everyday life and not just 'designer' handbags from two seasons ago.
However multiple residents have spotted a very real danger with the design of the road entrance into the new store. Last week the Oxford Mail covered the issue with comments from our own Co-Chair, Sallie Wright.
We have received numerous emails from concerned residents who, like us have contacted the relevant authorities to bring this serious safety issue to their attention only to be met with a wall of indifference and platitudes.
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SO WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Let us be clear, this problem is not Tesco's fault. It is the result of Oxfordshire County Council's Highways Department in failing to scrutinise traffic assessments and Cherwell District Council's Planning Committee to effectively scrutinise planning applications and enforce the necessary conditions.
The problem is illustrated in the pictures below.
When traffic travelling north bound on the A41 from the Aylesbury direction arrives at the roundabout, it can take the direct left hand filter lane to take to the M40/Oxford; shown by the blue arrows. At the moment the traffic is free to continue without interference.
Yet from Thursday 14th April, large numbers of residents will be travelling to the new store by car (or free bus we understand more of that later) from central Bicester. This will mean that after crossing the roundabout, they will have to change lanes for the left turn into the new Tesco as shown by the green arrows.
Many of us have foreseen that traffic will emerge from the filter lane too quickly and be confronted with either queuing traffic attempting to visit Tesco or slow moving traffic changing lanes to get to the store. Our collective fear is that there is a high potential for accidents to occur.
Indeed several of the residents who have already contacted us have done so having seen similar issues actually already occuring.
SO WHAT IS HAPPENING?
In short; very little - hence our warnings. We have been speaking with councillors and officials across all three councils for a number of months now. They cannot deny that they are unaware of the issue. In addition many residents have also contacted our councils, councillors (including Lawrie Stratford, Melanie Magee and Les Sibley), Thames Valley Police's Chief Constable, Victoria Prentis MP and even Tesco's CEO.
The organisations who are responsible for this mess are:
- Oxfordshire County Council's Highway Department overseen by Cllr David Nimmo-Smith
- Cherwell District Council Planning Department overseen by Cllr Colin Clarke
Of all the people contacted, the only ones who replied (to the best of our knowledge) are;
- Cllr Sibley - was able to confirm that the problem will be solved by the 'Hamburger roundabout' but unfortunately a start date has not yet been proposed.
- Cllr Magee - was told that "Additional signage will be put in place to help make motorists aware and County Councillor's have
suggested that there is a police presence, or some alternative traffic management on the first day." Err what about day two and
- Tesco's CEO Office - who have asked their developer to contact Oxfordshire County Council
- And errr, nobody else....
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Firstly; if you are anywhere near this area, please;
and be aware of the danger and share it with your friends and family too so that they are aware.
Secondly, please email the following individuals and express your displeasure at their indifference and appaulling lack of oversight for the safety of the people of their areas. It seems that stuff only happens if you anony people enough times and as Mr Nimmo-Smith supposedly doesn't like speaking with community groups (i.e. BicesterTAG) it falls to us as individuals to make our voices heard.
- David Nimmo-Smith - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Colin Clarke - email@example.com
HOW THE PROBLEM WILL EVENTUALLY BE SOLVED
Eventually (date unknown) this problem will be solved (read: worsened/moved) by the building of a 'hamburger' roundabout as illustrated in this video.
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