Tuesday, 14 August 2018

‘Drivers hurtle past my house over 40mph limit’

A MAN from Wargrave has called for the speed limit on the road outside his house to be reduced for safety reasons.

Cyrus Contractor says drivers “hurtle” along the A321 Wargrave Road into the village, endangering the lives of pedestrians and other motorists.

On one occasion he was walking along the road when he was struck on the head by the wing mirror of a passing lorry.

On another he was pulling his car out of his driveway when he was nearly hit by a driver speeding past.

Mr Contractor, a commercial consultant, who has lived in Wargrave for two years, says the problem is made worse by both the road and pavement being very narrow while most of the houses have steep driveways and boundary walls.

The stretch of road outside his house has a 40mph speed limit which changes to 30mph further along towards the village.

Mr Contractor wants to see the 30mph zone extended so it covers his section too.

Speaking at a meeting of Wargrave Parish Council last week, he said: “Since buying our home it has become obvious that it’s dangerous coming out of our drive.

“We and the neighbouring properties facing Willow Lane all experience quite abrupt driveways on to the road.

“We are quite restrained from making any changes because it’s a conservation area and those walls are attractive walls.

“Cars do hurtle down there and there are some incredible speeds late at night.”

Mr Contractor said an additonal hazard was the junction with Willow Lane leading to Willow Marina, which meant there were often large lorries or trailers making deliveries to businesses including Val Wyatt Marine. The road also has two bus stops.

He said that he had invited highways officers from Wokingham Borough Council to visit the scene and see the problem for themselves but was told there was nothing they could do.

He said: “There was a constructive reason — they don’t really have the budget.

“I suggested that a sensible mitigation would be to extend the existing 30mph limit.

“If accidents occur at 30mph people will probably live, if it’s 40mph or 50mph people will die.”

Several councillors agreed the road could be dangerous.

Councillor Michael Etwell said: “If you are on that footpath and try to walk across the road to the marina you are on a blind corner.”

Chairman Richard Bush said there needed to be “hard evidence” in order to change a speed limit.

“This council fought very hard to get the 40mph limit a few years ago and were told we had to get the police on side,” he said.

Councillor Bush said he recommended that Mr Contractor asked the Wargrave neighbourhood action group for help.

Residents of Wargrave have previously complained about drivers speeding through the village and jumping traffic lights.

In 2015, they highlighted the problem in High Street, which is a continuation of the A321, saying it had become a “race track” as many drivers ignored the 30mph limit and the street was very narrow.

In 2013 a motorcyclist was killed in a crash further along the A321 towards Henley.

Michael Jiggens, 41, from Shiplake, died when his Kawasaki Z1000 collided with a Royal Mail van.

John Halsall, who represents Wargrave on Wokingham Borough Council, the highways authority, said: “I have every sympathy with Mr Contractor.

“I’m trying my best to persuade the council to take these issues
seriously but there are strict rules around speed limits and what one can do.”

He said that he had previously helped reduce the speed limit on the raod from 50mph to 40mph.

He added that any speed limit changes must have the support of Thames Valley Police.

He said: “I’m chipping away but it’s hard work. It’s not to do with money, it’s whether the police will support it.”

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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