Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Action plan to tackle air pollution problem

A 20MPH speed zone should be introduced in Henley to help cut traffic congestion and improve air quality, say experts.

Street furniture, such as road signs, should also be removed, according to the town council’s transport strategy group.

Other ideas include a “kill your engine, not your neighbour” campaign, a clean air zone, a restriction on heavy goods vehicles, a parking strategy that includes free parking for green vehicles and a low emission car club.

At a meeting on Monday, the group decided against paying a consultant to carry out a public consultation but will produce its own leaflet, which will be distributed to all residents.

It will also ask to discuss its transport strategy with Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, and South Oxfordshire District Council, which is responsible for tackling air pollution.

Deputy Mayor Will Hamilton said the town should “get on with some of these things”.

Patrick Fleming, who represents environmental campaign group Henley in Transition, said: “We have cherry-picked the best eight out of 25 or 30 measures and actions we thought up in our brainstorming.

“I would feel we may be able to get on with them sooner rather than later, a 20mph zone or zones being one of them. We don’t actually go out to consultation but we inform the town these are the topics we’re taking about.

“The more we’re talking about this to the town, the more likely we are to carry them along with us.”

Councillor Ian Reissmann said: “The difficult thing about the district and county council is not getting money out of them, it’s winning the political will from them.

“We have got a much better chance of the councils working with us and providing money if they believe in what we’re doing.

“There’s no point putting together a plan among ourselves and going to the community only for the county council to turn around and say, ‘there’s no way that’s ever going to happen’.”

Cllr Reissmann said he liked the measures proposed but had “grave misgivings” about the removal of street furniture, saying the group didn’t know if this would help ease congestion.

“The idea is we try to achieve something in 2017,” he said. “I’m sure there’s three or four things we can get done.”

Dave McEwen, another member of Henley in Transition, said residents needed to see action being taken.

He said: “It does need hearts and minds but it’s an opportunity to say to people, ‘we want to do something about pollution in the town and here’s how you can help’.”

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