Examination of Witness (Questions 56 -
WEDNESDAY 31 JANUARY 2001
MR R WILLIAMS
56. May I welcome you to the Committee and ask
you to identify yourself for the record please?
(Mr Williams) Yes. I am Roger Williams.
I am a transport planning consultant, formerly the Chief Transport
Planner at Oxfordshire County Council.
57. Do you want to say anything by way of introduction?
(Mr Williams) Just briefly. First of all thank you
for inviting me. My three recommendations in my paper arise from
recent experience of introducing town centre pedestrianisation
schemes in Oxford and in Henley. It is clear to me from that experience
that local authorities need more help from central government
if they are going to deliver the sustainable transport systems
and the new vision for urban living that the Urban White Paper
58. What lessons do you think should be learned
from the problems encountered when introducing the scheme in Henley?
(Mr Williams) The main lesson is that the people of
Henley, and I suspect many other more rural market towns, are
just not ready or willing to give up their cars. They see any
measures which interfere with the convenience of car use as anti-car.
The car restraint seems to be totally out of step with lifestyle
patterns and aspirations. That is why I feel quite strongly that
a focus of attack to change people's attitudes is necessarily
going to have to come from central Government.
59. That tends to fly in the face of the concept
of local transport plans.
(Mr Williams) Certainly it is bottom up and top down,
but we cannot ignore the need for the top down attitude change
which is essential for the public to be prepared to accept these
sorts of restraints. The reason why I believe there was a very
different response in Oxford to the introduction of much more
restrictive measuresa 20 per cent reduction in car travel
to the city centre which occurred overnight, so car drivers were
heavily penalised by the pedestrianisation scheme introduced thereand
the reason why the bulk of the Oxford populace did not rise up
and protest, was because the Oxford people had been educated by
50 years of discussion about how to solve Oxford's transport problems.
There has been passionate debate about the construction of roads
to solve Oxford's problems, but the conclusion after the lengthy
debate has been that road building is not a satisfactory or acceptable
means of solving Oxford's transport problems. I believe that process,
which has been very publicthere is discussion every week
in the local presshas informed local people that sustainable
travel is the way forward certainly for urban areas. Henley people
have not had the benefit of that debate and therefore they are
not educated and do not understand the real issues.