Liberal Democrats on Cherwell District Council acted to ensure that the climate crisis is taken seriously by Cherwell Council at last night’s meeting.
Councillors Katherine Tyson successfully amended a motion to ensure that the council’s declared Climate Emergency is taken seriously when considering the impact of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway with the support of Ian Middleton, who seconded the amendment, and Conrad Copeland.
Commenting, Councillor Katherine Tyson said:
“The reality is, no new super-motorway is going to be better for our environment. That is why, although our amendment to ensure the Climate Emergency is taken into consideration was successful, we were not able to ‘keep an open mind’ as the motion suggests.
“The Conservative government are hell-bent on pushing through this Expressway regardless of what residents think and the Conservatives locally aren’t willing to side with residents to oppose this terrible project.”
Liberal Democrats put forward their own motion explicitly opposing the Expressway. Debate, however, was stifled as the motion conflicted with the Conservative’s one.
Their motion highlighted five key concerns with the Conservative Government’s Expressway proposals, namely:
The negative impact the Expressway will have on communities and businesses
A lack of government consultation with residents on whether the Expressway is the most effective way to enhance connectivity
The induced demand caused by road expansion, creating yet more traffic
The serious damage it will cause our environment, with increased carbon emissions and a negative impact on biodiversity
The prioritisation of East-West rail as a more sustainable and efficient transportation link.
Liberal Democrats have made clear that they would like to see greater investment into an East-West Rail link and prioritisation of sustainable active travel.
Commenting, Councillor Conrad Copeland said:
“The solution to the Climate Emergency is not a new road or anything that encourages more people to make journeys by car. We desperately need to be investing in sustainable and active transport, especially the East-West rail link.
“I’m disappointed in Conservative councillors unwillingness to stand up to Government when we know that the Expressway will have hugely negative consequences for our local environment and communities.
So far, three Oxfordshire councils have come out in opposition to the Conservative Government’s Expressway proposals, including Liberal Democrat-controlled Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Banbury constituency, Councillor Tim Bearder, said:
“It is telling that the only Oxfordshire Councils that have not expressed their objection to this motorway are Conservative ones. Could it be that they are sitting on the fence or "keeping an open mind" because they are being told to by their colleagues in national government who are clearly determined to force through this road with the million associated houses?
“Barry Wood is the Chair of the Arc leaders' group promoting this scheme — his mind is as open as a bank vault in lockdown.”
Liberal Democrats also teamed up with Green Party councillor, Ian Middleton, to propose a motion calling on Oxfordshire Local Government Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy.
Conservative councillors opposed this motion — in spite of the Climate Emergency — leading to it being unsuccessful in passing and risking the future security of the Oxfordshire pension fund.