Monday, 30 November 2020

‘Scrapping street parking wouldn’t cure air pollution’

SCRAPPING street parking in Watlington is unlikely to improve air quality in the town, says a parish

SCRAPPING street parking in Watlington is unlikely to improve air quality in the town, says a parish councillor.

Tom Bindoff was speaking at an exhibition held in the town on Saturday to explain proposals to reduce pollution from vehicles.

These include creating a “freight clearway” by banning parking in Couching Street and Shirburn Street so that goods vehicles and cars don’t end up queuing.

Other proposals include having clearer signage and more patrols using automatic number plate recognition technology and introducing tougher enforcement of the town’s 7.5-tonne weight limit.

The suggestions were made in a report by Reading consultants Ricardo Energy for South Oxfordshire District Council last year.

Watlington Parish Council says that removing parking could compromise the safety of pedestrians as currently parked cars encourage drivers passing through to slow down. Councillor Bindoff, of Brook Street, Watlington, said: “Our thoughts are that we have not been shown the evidence to prove that by removing the parking you would get a 25 per cent improvement in air quality.

“An advantage of having the parking at the moment is that only two or three people can go at a time to allow people through and it stagnates the traffic.

“The parking was only put in place 15 years ago and it helped improve safety at quiet times because traffic has to slow down. The pavements are only a metre wide and that’s really, really narrow. I also feel there should be traffic lights. There were some in temporarily last year and it was extremely successful.”

Peter Richardson, of Howe Hill, urged the district council to take “positive” action on air quality.

He said: “The current action plan plan uses the phrase ‘freight clearway’, which we believe means a faster flow of traffic. It means no on-street parking but you have to find an alternative place for the people to park.

“The quality of parking is something else we are looking at with the neighbourhood development plan, as is traffic-calming such as traffic lights and a 20mph speed limit. If the on-street parking is removed then we lose a form of traffic-calming. We want the district council to work with us to find an acceptable solution.”

Gordon Britton, of Pauls Way, suggested a trial scheme.

He added: “I’m also worried about the extra houses planned for Chalgrove Airfield because they would make the town busier.

“When I first came here from Middlesbrough my doctor asked why because he said it would be bad for my asthma, so I’m worried about air pollution.”

About 75 people attended the exhibition at the town hall on Saturday where the supply of feedback forms ran out due to demand.

A district council spokesman said: “Thank you to everyone who came to the exhibition. We will now review the responses, along with those from the Henley and Wallingford events. A full report will then go to the council’s licensing committee early next year.”

* Last week Councillor Tony Williamson told a meeting of the parish council that major strategy pursued by the council and Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, was to slow traffic. He said there was no evidence from the district council that removing street parking would improve air quality.

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