Friday, 21 September 2018

Councillor’s car written off... again

A MAN’S car has been wrecked by a speeding driver for the second time in less than a year.

A MAN’S car has been wrecked by a speeding driver for the second time in less than a year.

Henley town councillor Dylan Thomas was disturbed by a loud bang outside his house in Northfield End as he enjoyed a lie-in on Sunday  morning.

He quickly dressed and hurried outside to find a male driver had ploughed into his grey Saab 9-3, which he had parked on the street overnight.

It was the second such incident since June last year, when a driver heading north out of Henley drifted across the oncoming lane and hit a parked Audi Q5 also belonging to Mr Thomas.

Mr Thomas, 37, a former army officer, who lives with his wife Clare and son Archie, two, said: “I just heard this loud ‘bang’ like an explosion so I went outside and was greeted by this scene of carnage.

“I couldn’t believe it had happened again — it’s like being hit by lightning twice.

“My first concern was that someone could be hurt but that thought turned to anger and disbelief as soon as I realised everyone was fine. Fortunately, he had insurance, although these things always end up causing some inconvenience even when it’s not your fault. It took ages to get my £500 excess back after the last crash.”

The man had been driving south into Henley from Fair Mile when he lost control of his silver BMW 5 and veered towards the verge on his left-hand side.

He struck the front passenger side of Mr Thomas’s car, shunting it backwards and spinning it through 90 degrees so the rear was jutting out into the road. He then smashed through a wooden bollard on the pavement before coming to a stop.

Mr Thomas called the police, who arrived within 20 minutes and closed the southbound lane of Northfield End as it was blocked and strewn with debris.

A recovery vehicle arrived about two hours later and swept the asphalt before removing both vehicles, which crash investigators are now analysing. Witnesses told Mr Thomas that the man appeared to be swerving over the carriageway and driving faster than the 30mph speed limit in the moments before the impact.

He said: “It was very lucky that neither I nor my wife or little one were in the car at the time.

“Dozens of Rupert House School pupils use that pavement during the week so I dread to think how bad it could have been.”

Mr Thomas fears somebody could be killed or seriously injured if there is another serious accident.

He says Oxfordshire County Council should introduce traffic-calming measures such as wider pavements, traffic islands and a pedestrian crossing. He says the 30mph restriction should be extended further north towards Fair Mile.

Mr Thomas has started a petition and will present it to David Nimmo Smith, a fellow Henley town councillor and the county council’s cabinet member for environment, when he has enough signatures. He said: “I’ve spoken to a lot of people in this area and they agree that there’s a speeding problem on Northfield End and Fair Mile.

“It’s understandable because it’s a nice, straight and open stretch of road and people are tempted to speed up on their way out of Henley.

“The county council has known about it for years but nothing is ever done even though our council tax keeps going up.”

Cllr Nimmo Smith said any improvements in that part of Henley should wait until new housing was built off Fair Mile under the town’s newly-approved neighbourhood plan and he would refer the issue to the town council’s traffic advisory group.

He said: “Fair Mile is a long, straight road with few houses and a wide aspect so people wouldn’t respect the speed limits if you extended them. It would be difficult to widen the pavement as you’d then have to narrow an A-road.

“In this case, the driver failed to see the signs or the speed camera. You can’t possibly legislate for something like that.”

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