Friday, 28 January 2022
PLANS to encourage HGV drivers to use an approved network of routes in Oxfordshire have been welcomed by parish councils.
The move by the county council is designed to prevent large lorries being driven through towns and villages, damaging properties and roads, creating air pollution and putting pedestrians at risk.
The council says it will encourage haulage companies to include these in their drivers’ GPS systems and ensure routes such as the M40 and A34 are properly promoted.
However, some parishes are concerned that it could result in the problem being moved from one place to another.
Nick Digby, chairman of Rotherfield Greys Parish Council, said: “I fully support what they’re trying to do but my concern would be how it affects the B481 and whether that will be included in any new route.
“It tends to be used as a bit of a rat run. It’s a smallish road but people speed up and down it quite excessively.
“I support the principle of the motion but the lorries are going to have to go somewhere and if we’re moving them from one area it will affect another. If it avoids towns and villages entirely then it will be pushing lorries a long way round and how does that effect the environment?
“It would protect the air in one town or village but it could worsen the wider problem.”
Fred Maroudas, chairman of Shiplake Parish Council, said: “The motion was passed unanimously by the council, which is always a good sign.
“There’s a big problem, particularly in Henley, and an increasing problem in the villages.
“Getting HGVs out of the towns and villages is clearly a good idea and we support that but the devil is going to be in the detail, seeing which roads will be used and ensuring that we can still maintain deliveries to the town centre.
“The last thing we want would be to find as a result of this we’re not getting goods into Henley.
Karen Wheeler, clerk of Bix and Assendon Parish Council, said: “There needs to be a very good plan, we don’t want to just take HGVs out of one area and move the problem.”
In Henley, campaigners have spent years calling for a 7.5-tonne weight limit to be place on the bridge, effectively banning larger HGVs.
The county council has agreed to consider an order to implement the ban and officers are now looking at installing number plate recognition cameras to enforce it.
In Watlington a 7.5-tonne weight limit is already in place but the parish council says it is routinely ignored by HGV drivers.
Council chairman Matt Reid said: “We do have a lot of HGVs come through Watlington, using it as a cut-through.
“I’m not sure how they would manage creating a route that everyone could agree on, the lorries have to go through somewhere.
“We want to keep them out of Watlington and would like more enforcement.”
Caroline Aldridge, who chairs Kidmore End Parish Council, said: “It is a problem that needs addressing.
“We have been getting some large vehicles coming through on the way to building works in Reading.
“The roads around here really aren’t suitable for a lot of them and they shouldn’t be using it as a route. An alternative route would be good.”
David Bartholomew, who represents Sonning Common, Binfield Heath, Bix and Assendon, Shiplake and Rotherfield Greys on the county council, said: “It’s an interesting proposal that had the support of all the council.
“There are a lot of complexities to be resolved before it can be progressed.
“There’s general support for ensuring HGVs don’t go through towns and villages but you need to make sure you don’t simply deflect from one village to another.
“There has been a big drive to prevent HGVs going through Henley but the concern is if that happens then the traffic would be deflected through the villages that surround the town.
“This will be a more holistic approach to prevent that happening.
“It’s important to remember that HGVs are necessary to our economy and way of living.”
Amanda Chumas, who led the campaign for the weight restriction on Henley Bridge and lives in Bell Street, said: “The problem is that if recommended routes are merely advisory, they will not stop HGVs using Henley as a traffic corridor and in particular to link the M4 and A34 in order to save journey time.
“Only if we get a weight limit will HGVs be legally prohibited from using Henley as a river crossing and traffic corridor.”
10 January 2022
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