Councils unite to bid for funding for A-roads
OXFORD hopes to unlock a £50m transport pot to improve the A34 and A40 as it bids to become a world leader in high-tech and scientific business.
The city, along with 20 others across the country, will submit bids to the Government this month in the hope of gaining ‘city deals’ status.
In exchange for showing strong leadership and ambitious plans to boost economic growth, the Government will devolve powers and open new budgets.
The county and city councils have drafted a bid to harness the influence of the city’s universities to turn Oxford into the world’s leading knowledge-based economy.
But to do this the councils want at least £50m to revamp the Wolvercote Roundabout on the A40 and the A34 junctions at Milton and Chilton.
“We want to improve the infrastructure and facilities so that when fledgling companies grow they can stay in Oxfordshire.
“We can be the knowledge base driving the world.”
He said the cash would be used to alleviate A40 congestion by building a new road linking the carriageway with the A44 roundabout at Frieze Way, near Kidlington.
Mr Hudspeth also envisaged adding two new sliproads to the two-way A34 junction at Chilton and adding waiting lanes and dedicated slip roads to reduce congestion on the roundabout at Milton junction.
He also hoped the money could be used to achieve 90 per cent superfast broadband coverage by 2015.
Mr Hudspeth said the councils were also in discussions with Oxford & Cherwell Valley College and Abingdon & Witney College to provide a skilled workforce.
Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said: “What we are focusing on is potentially realising additional growth spinning out of the university and into institutions.
“Oxford has huge potential because it has the universities and also Harwell and the science parks.
“The aim is to make the Oxford city region a world-class economy and to build on the experience of American universities, where there are greater links between universities and science innovation.
“Every time you come into the area of taking about economic growth, companies say the constraint to growth in Oxfordshire is transport.”
Mr Price said the ‘ballpark figure’ needed to make the transport improvements was £50m.
The city and county councils are working with district councils across the county and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership to create the proposals.
It is hoped the Wolvercote Roundabout improvements would also help with the city council’s proposed Northern Gateway development.
The project could provide 3,000 new jobs and 200 homes on land close to the Pear Tree interchange, but concerns have been raised about potential congestion from the scheme.
The Government said ‘city deals’ could see councils gain devolved transport budgets, control of the skills budget for their cities and the ability to ‘earn back’ tax from the Treasury.
A spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “We look forward to seeing Oxford’s proposal.
“Giving powers to local leaders is the best way to boost local growth.”
The Government has asked for bids to be made by January 15 and hopes to complete the process by November 2013.