CAR free days and solar panels on the Corn Exchange were among the ideas presented at a meeting to tackle Witney's climate emergency.

Town, district, city and county councillors joined forces with members of Oxford Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion and Witney Youth Council to discuss how Witney can become carbon neutral by 2028.

There was standing room only at the Corn Exchange on Sunday as 150 people packed into the venue, leaving town council leader, Rosa Bolger, encouraged by the interest.

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She said: “This was probably the most important meeting that the town council will ever hold.

“It’s such a pressing issue and everybody has to be involved if we’re going to tackle this crisis.

“The reason for declaring a climate emergency was not to pay lip service to a national movement, but to really make a public commitment to tackling this issue."

After seven speakers addressed the public meeting, residents split into groups to form ideas for the council's climate emergency action plan.

Witney Gazette:

Proposals ranged from turning lights off to a Witney to Oxford railway, while another popular suggestion, a car free day, is already in the works.

On Monday, the town council passed a motion to run an awareness campaign ahead of World Car Free Day on September 22, which encourages people to give up their vehicles for 24 hours.

From 2020, the council will also explore measures such as closing certain roads and monitoring traffic congestion and air pollution on World Car Free Day.

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Green Party councillor, Andrew Prosser, proposed the motion and said: "The main thing is that it raises awareness. It helps us identify some of the problems of people travelling without their cars, but also the possibilities if certain parts of the town are less congested."

Tom Hayes, Oxford City Council's cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford, was among the speakers on Sunday and hopes the scheme can have a long-lasting impact.

He said: "The whole point of a car free day is to raise awareness of what a community looks and sounds like when we don't have vehicles driving around, spewing toxic emissions into our lungs.

"We should be aspiring to make every day a car free day."

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Ms Bolger also revealed the council would aim to work with Witney's 'anchor institutions', including surgeries, schools and businesses.

Among potential plans are installing solar panels around the town, with the council already looking into fixing the devices to the Corn Exchange.

Other ideas suggested by residents included 'car clubs' to reduce the number of vehicles, electric vehicle charging points and planting more trees to capture carbon dioxide.

A motion proposing that 'trees, shrubs and forestation' should be planted in all significant developments from the start of next year will be presented by district councillors Alex Postan and David Harvey at today's council meeting.

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Fiona Tavner, coordinator of Oxford Friends of the Earth, addressed residents on 'turning words into action' to create 'climate solutions' for Witney.

Extinction Rebellion’s Rachael Treharne also spoke at the meeting and hopes it can translate into ‘ambitious, transformative changes’.

She said: “Every community has a role to play in tackling climate breakdown, and no one knows better how to shape that role than the people who live there.

“There’s a clear understanding in Witney that we urgently need to take action, and this meeting showed a real appetite to use the opportunity to create a stronger, healthier community.”