Tuesday, 01 December 2020

Highways chiefs won’t pay to make road safer

TRAFFIC-calming measures could be introduced on a busy Henley street.

TRAFFIC-calming measures could be introduced on a busy Henley street.

Henley Town Council is to consider spending up to £33,000 on changes to Gravel Hill, including a flashing speed limit sign, a pedestrian refuge and a priority junction to help control vehicle speeds and make the area safer.

It follows complaints by residents about an increase in traffic and drivers ignoring the 30mph speed limit.

Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, says it can’t afford to contribute anything towards the cost.

Keith Stenning, the county council’s area steward, told a meeting of the town council’s traffic advisory committee, that one, two or all three measures could be introduced, depending on how much councillors wanted to spend.

The vehicle-activated sign would be installed on the left-hand side of the road going out of town near the junction with Ancastle Green and would cost £7,000.

The pedestrian refuge would be near Hop Gardens and would cost £9,000. The priority junction would involve build-out on either side of the road and would cost £12,000.

Mr Stenning said: “We’re currently planning the ‘give way’ to build up the hill but I am not sure that is ideal because of additional noise. It would be more effort to get traffic up the hill.” He said they could also create a pinchpoint in the road where the pavement is very narrow.

Public consultation, design fees and legal costs would add about £5,000.

“The pinchpoint would not need public consultation but the house is very close to it,” he said. “It would need a road closure but it wouldn’t take long to build.”

Mr Stenning said there was no chance of section 106 funds from developers being used to pay for the work as this money had gone towards subsidising the 139 bus service between Henley and Wallingford.

He added: “We are looking to Henley Town Council or a third party to fund this. You don’t have to have all three. It could be one, two or three. All three are feasible. Our view is this is a worthy cause. It is for the benefit of the people of Henley.”

Councillor David Eggleton suggested the traffic-calming measures could be phased in to see what difference each one made.

Councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “All three would be beneficial.”

Catherine Hunter, of Gravel Hill, had raised concerns about heavy goods vehicles and speeding in Gravel Hill. In a letter to the council, she said: “The situation has become considerably worse, with many more HGVs, coaches and construction lorries speeding down the hill. I wonder how they manage to stop at the stop line.

“Apart from the noise, it is dangerous to cross the road as there is also a bend.

“My main grievance would have to be the pollution the traffic causes. I suffer from a serious lung disease which is made worse by this and must affect many older residents.

“This is not a new problem and I wonder if any traffic- calming measures are being considered?”

In January, fellow resident Lesley Watts claimed the speed limit was ignored by “boy racers, businessmen, white vans and coaches”.

She said she had also raised the issue 12 years ago, complaining about the pavement being too narrow and drivers speeding and calling for a pedestrian crossing, but nothing was done.

Mrs Watts said: “As well as the increase in traffic, the number of pedestrians using the pavements has tripled since I moved here in 1989.”

A county council official said that a speed survey carried out in 2010 showed there was not a problem.

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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