AN electric car charging point will be installed in Henley to help tackle the town’s pollution problem.
Paul Harrison, a member of South Oxfordshire District Council, announced the move when he attended the launch of the Clean Air for Henley campaign by environmental group Henley in Transition in Market Place on Saturday.
Councillor Harrison said the charging point would installed in one of the district council-controlled car parks by the autumn and be trialled for a year.
It will require the removal of two or three parking spaces but will allow two cars to be charged at the same time.
Cllr Harrison said Henley and Wallingford had been chosen for the trial.
“The reason we picked them is because of their bridges and the narrowness of the roads and because people there have more disposable income than some other communities in South Oxfordshire.”
He said the scheme would be cost neutral.
“The costs are going to be borne by the users of the system but the council will not be making an extra charge for it,” he said.
“If it’s successful we’d look into bringing in more charging points. The more points there are the more likely people are to convert their vehicles.”
Councillor Harrison said the district council was aware of Henley’s air quality problem and took the issue seriously.
“It’s because it’s a bridged town,” he said. “Any bridged town gets larger volumes of traffic coming through.
“It also has the problem of roads being narrow and therefore particulates don’t get dispersed.”
He said he would meet members of Henley in Transition again and had greed to pass on any ideas to council officers.
The group has launched the campaign came after the Henley Standard revealed that the air quality in parts of the town is so bad that it has forced at least one resident to leave and could be affecting the town’s visitor trade.
The levels of nitrogen dioxide in some streets are 50 per cent higher than Air Quality England’s target limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre, which has sparked concerns about the effect on residents, particularly young children.
David Dickie, a member of Henley in Transition, said a number of new members signed up on Saturday and the group’s air quality group would meet this week to discuss further steps.
He said: “The people who signed up knew about the poor air quality and were astonished that still nothing has been done. The more you wait the worse it’s going to get.
“My belief is there should be a vision for a low emission zone like in London for 2020.”
The group has also suggested a campaign for people to switch off their engines at traffic lights.
The stall featured stories of Henley residents who suffer from asthma because of pollution, including Mike Stanton, who is selling his home after 25 years because the pollution is making him ill.
The 70-year-old said he suffers asthma attacks when he walks the few minutes from his house into the town centre.
Mr Dickie measured particulates around the town on Saturday and said outside Henley’s police station, at the bottom of Greys Road, was by far the worst area.