Looking at these problems in detail made Bicester Traffic Action Group (Bicester TAG) very nervous about what impact the new developments scheduled for Bicester would have for our emergency
services. So we asked.
We approached Oxfordshire Fire Brigade first because we are aware that the Chief Fire Officer David Etheridge also acts the risk adviser for Oxfordshire County Council who are in charge of all road developments in the our county. So on a sunny afternoon in March 2015, we met with Area Manager Nigel Wilson who is responsible for the Bicester area.
In summary, Oxfordshire Fire Brigade are NOT unduly worried by the closure of the London Road level crossing. Their reasons are as follows;
So the people of Bicester, especially those residents of Langford, Ambrosden, Blackthorn, Launton to mention a few, can rest easily in their beds at night knowing that if they need the Fire Brigade, an appliance will be with them within the target time.
Area Manager Wilson did say that whilst his modelling did not predict any significant change to response times through the closure of London Road level crossing, Oxfordshire Fire Brigade will
monitor the situation and if necessary will be able to implement a 'Special Operational Order' to mitigate the risk and ensure the public's safety.
However changes to traffic flow caused by developments such as EcoBicester/NWBicester will impact response times are not yet fully understood.
Another dimension to this problem is that Bicester Fire Station sits on a plot of prime real-estate. There may come a point in the future where Oxfordshire County Council deem it
financially prudent/necessary to sell the land currently housing the Fire Station, Magistrate Court and Police Station. At which point, any new location will not only have to offer ready
access to all parts of the town but also be readily accessible to the volunteer firefighters who are required to live/work within five minutes response time.
Do not panic. If you live in Langford Village you are very unlikely to be adversely affected by the closure of London Road level crossing in terms of Fire Brigade response times.
However in the longer term, the strategic changes planned for Bicester will impact our firefighter's but they are very much aware of the issues and are actively monitoring the changes.
We will continue to liaise with Nigel and his team.