Monday, 18 December 2017

MP: new third bridge has not been agreed

MP: new third bridge has not been agreed

JOHN HOWELL has denied claims that a third bridge across the River Thames in Reading is closer to becoming a reality.

The Henley MP attended a meeting between Berkshire and Oxfordshire councillors to discuss the long-running issue on Monday.

They agreed to study the results of traffic modelling work conducted by Wokingham Borough Council in more detail before meeting again for further talks.

The £100 million crossing, which is supported by Wokingham and Reading Borough Council, would run across Caversham Lakes from Thames Valley Business Park to the Wyevale garden centre near Playhatch.

This falls within Oxfordshire so would need the support of the county council and South Oxfordshire District Council, who fear it would place excessive pressure on neighbouring rural roads.

Reading East Matt Rodda, who also attended the meeting, suggested that it was another step towards getting the bridge built.

Speaking to BBC Radio Berkshire on Tuesday, he said: “I think it will be built. Yesterday, we agreed to take it further forward. We’re going to carry out more research… and come up with a proposal to build it.

“The issue is really just to push ahead with it because we do need a bridge and the question is how we persuade the people of Oxfordshire to agree with it.

“We talked about a range of potential measures [to offset the impact], such as controlling HGVs coming into Oxfordshire… it could also help improve the air quality in Henley town centre.”

Councillor David Lee, Wokingham Borough Council’s highways member, said: “I was quite pleased with the meeting… there was a consensus that we need to do something to take it forward.”

But Mr Howell said: “I regard any statement made to date as inaccurate and premature and feel the need to correct this misrepresentation.

“The meeting agreed that the traffic modelling contained interesting results which we needed to study in detail and explore further when that detail is provided.

“We also needed an opportunity to discuss these with residents. In addition, the question of funding of the next stage of the business plan was discussed and further work agreed.

“The meeting did not agree to build a bridge for which, among other things, there is no funding in place.”

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