Frustration is brewing over a lack of progress and transparency from ‘national conservative politics’ and a major rail company.

Beth West, CEO of East West Rail (EWR), the company behind the under-construction rail line running from Cambridge to Oxford, with various stops along the way, visited Bicester last Thursday.

Ms West was taken to see the London Road level crossing – which was recently the subject of EWR’s public consultation - by North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis.

After this, Ms Prentis chaired a roundtable discussion with the EWR senior leadership and a cross-party group of Bicester councillors.

Ms Prentis said: “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.

“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.”

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However, one councillor present at the roundtable meeting has expressed frustration at the government’s uncertainty with regards to this project.

County Councillor for Otmoor Calum Miller said: “I welcome Beth West’s visit. It’s important that the leadership of East West Rail understand the devastating effect that closing London Road would have on our town.

“We need Beth to prioritise a solution for London Road in the funding bid she puts to government.

“She told us East West Rail won’t publish a response to the recent public consultation until they know who the new rail minister is.

“This reflects uncertainty over funding of infrastructure projects.

“I am frustrated that progress on resolving this issue has been held up by national Conservative politics.

“We need to be ready to flood the new rail minister with letters and communications from Bicester so they are in no doubt how important this issue is to us.

Mr Miller, along with other councillors, launched a campaign in April 2021 to beseech EWR to keep London Road open.

He said: “We welcome all supporters of our campaign, including other local representatives who have now joined.

“This is our last, best chance to keep London Road open.

“After years of missed opportunities, we have to make sure this government and East West Rail commit funding to keep London Road open.

“Our town cannot be cut in two.”


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing:

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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