Friday, 28 January 2022

Blow for anti-HGVs campaign

Blow for anti-HGVs campaign

CAMPAIGNERS who want to stop heavy goods lorries using Henley as a short cut have suffered a blow.

It follows the decision by Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, to revoke a temporary ban on lorries in Burford.

The council agreed in April last year to carry out a study into having a 7.5-tonne weight limit on Henley Bridge to prevent HGVs damaging buildings and causing air pollution.

However, last month the council voted to create approved routes through the county for HGVs, which campaigners said could ruin their hopes of a ban.

Now the council has revoked the 7.5-tonne weight restriction on a medieval bridge in Burford in West Oxfordshire before the end of its 18-month trial.

This means HGVs can now travel through the pretty market town once more, angering residents and local businesses.

The council says the ban was having a knock-on effect on other nearby towns and villages, which is the fear expressed about the proposed ban in Henley.

Councillor Duncan Enright, cabinet member for travel and development strategy, said: “A huge amount of research has gone into evaluating the impact of the order since it was introduced and I believe the criteria for success have not been met, either in the decrease of vehicles in Burford high street or the increase in traffic on other roads.”

He said the Henley study would continue but he felt a county-wide approach solution was preferable.

Cllr Enright said: “What we want to do is to look at the area as a whole. We want the best possible routing for HGVs, the most strategic route.

“We will look at what approach is going to be best for a community and get HGVs to use the most appropriate roads, which are motorways and major roads.

“The best option is to engage the public across the county and beyond in a more strategic and regional freight strategy to reduce the number of HGVs on inappropriate roads in our towns and villages.

“In Burford there were problems displacing HGV traffic on specific roads.”

Last month Stefan Gawrysiak, who represents Henley on the county council, and Amanda Chumas, who led the Henley weight restriction campaign, said the new strategy should not stop this going ahead.

Cllr Gawrysiak, who seconded the motion in favour of the road network, said it didn’t mean giving up on a Henley weight restriction and that both were needed.

Ms Chumas, who 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. Only if we get a weight limit will HGVs be legally prohibited from using Henley as a river crossing and traffic corridor.”

Rotherfield Greys and Shiplake parish councils have both expressed concern that a Henley weight restriction would shift the problem into their villages.

Goring councillor Kevin Bulmer who proposed the road network idea, said ad-hoc restrictions in one town or village could be detrimental to others.

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