Question to Tories about Botley Petrol Station

I think the loss of the last local petrol stations is an environmental sustainability issue for Planning Policy.Today we learned that the Esso station in Oxpens Rd is to close 17 August.

I’m trying to get Vale Tories to recognise that loss of local options for fueling our cars forces thousands of drivers to hit the A34 (already a source of pollution and operating above capacity) to drive further afield to find petrol. I think this is a serious environmental issue that deserves Planning Policy consideration. We have ways to save local pubs, after all.

At the July full Vale Council meeting, I asked the Cabinet member for Planning Policy, Cllr Michael Murray, a question about it.

“The loss of the last petrol station in Botley is an environmental concern when it means thousands of extra cars must travel on the already over-capacity A34 to Peartree, Heyford Hill or Abingdon in order to fill the tank. What policy changes could the Vale consider to address this environmental sustainability issue?”

His reply: “We will all be very aware of the great strides forward in technology that the car manufacturing industry has taken in the past few years. In particular they have focussed on increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. This, coupled with competition between suppliers and increased taxation on fuel to encourage reduced consumption, has resulted in greatly reduced margins and market capacity for roadside retailers. As such we have seen a considerable consolidation of the sector. However the improvement in vehicle range on a tank of fuel has very much reduced the need for local fuel provision. Whilst the BP garage at Seacourt Tower remains open for business, there is no certainty that this, or any other fuel, or other retail, or other commercial use for any building in the Vale, will continue to trade in the long term in the face of changing market conditions, and it does not appear immediately obvious why increasingly scarce council resources should be deployed to developing a fuel retailer policy specifically for Botley as a priority over other more pressing Vale wide matters”.

An unhelpful, and rather snarky response, I thought.

I asked my follow-up question regarding ways in which the council could demonstrate the need for a joined up planning policy approach in Botley, Cllr Murray first remonstrated with the chairman  that my question shouldn’t be allowed as it wasn’t really supplementary to the original question. Chairman ruled against him. So Cllr Murray then stated that views were sought during the consultation on the draft local plan. There would be a further opportunity to submit views/ideas during the Botley supplementary planning document consultation process.