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On Monday 28th January, Oxford City Council will vote on two important motions. One is on climate change (and involves declaring – as other councils have done – a ‘climate emergency’ – item 15b on the agenda). The other is to oppose the Expressway (15d).  [Details here, no need to sign in: http://mycouncil.oxford.gov.uk/documents/g4343/Public%20reports%20pack%20Monday%2028-Jan-2019%2017.00%20Council.pdf?T=10].

These between them can set a course in one of two directions.

Supporting both these would help put us on a forward-looking path towards zero carbon, sustainable transport, social justice and more.  If these fail, then the Council sends a powerful ‘don’t care’ message and helps lock us in to an unsustainable future.

There may of course be the added situation where they vote for climate action and then fall at the first fence by supporting the Expressway!

ACT NOW: please lobby your councillors!

We would ask you to contact your local city councillor and ask her / him to support both these motions.  This is especially important since the two motions come not from the ruling Labour party but from the Greens (climate) and Lib Dems (Expressway).

We’re making it super easy by providing a customisable draft text below which you can copy, paste and edit for speedy sending (thank you to Chris Church from OxToCC and OxFoe for the text).

We need to show that there is a lot of support for both these motions. PLEASE help us with this.

If you are not sure on how to contact your councillor the ‘write to them’ website – https://www.writetothem.com – will help you easily find their email.

Draft letter to councillors to copy, paste, edit and send

Dear councillor

I am writing to you to urge you to support two motions coming to the City Council on Monday 28th January.

One of these (item 15b on the agenda) is on climate change. It involves declaring – as other councils of all political colours have done – a ‘climate emergency’ – and setting of an improved target for the City Council to go ‘carbon neutral’.

Climate change is a world-wide crisis and concern and although Oxford may be a small city in global terms it has often provided leadership and inspiration to others. The UK Government has already joined the international ‘Carbon Neutrality Coalition’ of nineteen national governments committed to net-zero emissions by the second half of the century. I urge you to help Oxford move in the same direction.

The second motion (item 15d) is to oppose the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway.  I am sure that you are aware that many people in the City and across the County are opposed to this plan. Please don’t be pushed into thinking this is a done deal – proposed road schemes have been cancelled many times.

The Expressway is presented as providing a solution to congestion on the A34 and elsewhere. But for over 30 years empirical studies and official reports have agreed that new roads create more traffic.  Extra traffic will result in even more congestion, worse air pollution and slower journeys in neighbouring towns and cities such as Oxford.

The Expressway is of course linked to housing. Yet car-dependent settlements strung out along this route would do nothing to meet the need for genuinely low-cost housing within Oxford.  The £4Bn or more that would be spent on this project would generate far better returns if spent on local infrastructure, and better rail systems.  The Expressway will also lead to a significant increase in air pollution with proven impacts on public health. New factors such as widespread use of electric vehicles are unlikely to have a significant impact until well after the Expressway is built.

Lastly, there is the issue of climate change. We need a low-carbon transport system that is fit for the 21st century, not one stuck in the 20th. Oxford needs a transport system that meets our current needs, enables the continued development of science and innovation industries in Oxfordshire, and helps create genuinely sustainable communities in the future, rather than car dependent housing developments where residents will have no option but to drive to access facilities. Support for the Expressway frankly undermines any support for action on climate change.

I urge you to vote for both these motions and to recognise the links between them.

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