Tuesday, 18 May 2021

HGV ban ‘could move problem to our village’

HGV ban ‘could move problem to our village’

PLANS to stop heavy goods vehicles from driving through Henley have been criticised by the chairman of Rotherfield Greys Parish Council.

Nick Digby fears the move could prompt more lorry drivers to travel  through nearby villages instead.

Stefan Gawrysiak, Henley’s representative on Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, was due to put a motion to the council on Wednesday calling for a 7.5-ton weight limit on Henley Bridge.

This would effectively prevent HGVs with no business in Henley from using it as a “rat run”.

The move follows a campaign for a ban on big lorries, which are said to make the town’s pollution problem worse, put pedestrians at risk and damage roads and pavements and historic buildings.

But Councillor Digby says that Rotherfield Greys already suffers from a lot of passing traffic and this shouldn’t be allowed to get worse.

He also disputes Cllr Gawrysiak’s suggestion that HGV drivers would avoid the area entirely and stick to approved major roads or motorways instead, which is what campaigners want. Cllr Digby also criticised claims that his parish council is in favour of the ban and says he and his colleagues have only had brief discussions without reaching an official opinion.

He said Cllr Gawrysiak had never approached them so they would wait for the county council to stage a public consultation before putting it on the agenda.

Cllr Digby said: “We’ve never heard from him personally and although it has been discussed, we certainly haven’t agreed that we support it. We haven’t decided anything, in fact.

“We have some reservations regarding the scheme because there’s a danger that it could push lorries on to country roads outside Henley.

“Nobody has explained how this scheme would work or where the lorries would go instead. It sounds expensive and rather impractical because if you ban them in one area, they’ve surely got to find another way to their destination.

“We regularly have lorries passing through — I assume they come off the B481 between Nettlebed and Sonning Common and I’m not sure where they go on to as many of these roads must be hard to navigate.

“The main issue is the constant noise as well as the fact that it’s unsightly and surprisingly frequent. On a busy day you might see 10 in an hour and they can’t all have legitimate business in Henley.

“Unless Cllr Gawrysiak approaches us, we will wait to be consulted and then comment as it’s not our job to go to him.”

Cllr Gawrysiak said there was no reason for lorries to pass through surrounding villages if they couldn’t go through Henley and the ban would drive them out of the area entirely.

He said: “I would welcome the opportunity to explain the plan in detail to Rotherfield Greys Parish Council because it must be carried out in co-operation with the communities along and near the B481.

“I’ve made a commitment to consult and organised meetings to plan the best way of moving this forward. It must be done with everybody’s consent.”

Cllr Gawrysiak said the parish council had invited him to discuss the issue but he couldn’t make the suggested date so he asked for another and was still awaiting a response.

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