Friday, 23 March 2018

Survey of businesses and residents key to solving congestion

A PLAN has been drawn up to reduce congestion in Henley.

A PLAN has been drawn up to reduce congestion in Henley.

Environmental campaign group Henley in Transition has devised an online survey to try to produce an overview of transport usage in the town.

The questionnaire, which will go live next month, is aimed at businesses and organisations as well as residents.

Students from The Henley College will be carrying out research alongside the survey, which will include interviews with business owners.

The plan was officially launched at a meeting at King’s Arms Barn on Monday.

Dave McEwen, treasurer of Henley in Transition, said: “We felt that as well as looking at potential solutions, we ought to be looking at what the current situation is — what journeys people are making and the reasons for those journeys. We came up with the idea of a survey to obtain as complete a picture as possible of the transport needs of Henley householders and businesses during the typical working week.

“We also want people’s views on how to reduce congestion and to assess the impact of tourists and visitors on the town and see how air quality can be improved.

“We have kept the survey simple and short to maximise involvement.”

Nine sites in Henley — in Duke Street, Hart Street, Market Place, Bell Street, Greys Road, Friday Street and Reading Road — have been found to be exceeding the pollution levels set by Air Quality England.

Duke Street has the highest recorded nitrogen dioxide levels in South Oxfordshire. Laila Meachin, who chairs Henley Town Council’s traffic advisory committee, said: “All the nine meters are above the EU recommended level.”

Henley in Transition has held a number of “brainstorming” sessions to collect ideas on how to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

Mr McEwen, a retired teacher, of Church Street, Henley, said: “The start for this was us having a vision for how Henley might be in 10 to 15 or 20 years’ time, which is of a town using a sustainable project with no transport or congestion problems.

“We felt we ought to be looking at the issue of transport so we started this green solutions working party and in September we got out the Post-it notes and started brainstorming. We came up with two sheets of A4 of different ideas — some not so green, but lots of ideas.”

Some of the suggestions included electric cars, a park-and-ride scheme and reducing speed limits to 20mph. Mr McEwen contacted Paul Morse, an economics lecturer at The Henley College, who teaches a transport module, to see if his students could help gather information.

He said: “I feel that being involved with this project could be a really valuable experience for the students.”

“As well as the surveys, we hope the students will undertake some research for us. They will work in groups of five or six and we hope they will take on the challenge of investigating some of their ideas.”

Henley in Transition hopes to produce a detailed plan for cutting emissions which could be fed into the Henley neighbourhood plan once that has been approved.

lWhat do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email letters@henley

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