Tuesday, 01 December 2020

Go-ahead for traffic studies but no to wardens

TWO studies on the impact that 450 new houses would have on Henley’s roads are set to be carried out.

TWO studies on the impact that 450 new houses would have on Henley’s roads are set to be carried out.

Town councillors have agreed to spend £1,500 on a preliminary “scoping” report and set aside another £50,000 for a “comprehensive” study.

The study would be part of the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan, which names the sites where the homes should be built.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s finance strategy and management committee, Mayor Martin Akehurst said: “It would be immensely irresponsible to put forward a neighbourhood plan without a traffic survey.”

Councillor Will Hamilton said: “I’m in favour of the transport strategy, or scoping it at least.”

The study would estimate the number of extra cars that each potential development would bring and the number of journeys they would make.

It could also investigate wider transport issues, such as cycle paths, bus routes and footpaths as well as the electrification of the Henley branch rail line.

Councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “I think it would be naive to do the scoping just for the housing sites or just for Henley…. everything has to be thrown into the mix.”

Oxfordshire County Council carried out a traffic study 10 years ago but says it cannot afford to repeat the exercise.

However, the council’s cabinet is set to approve the final draft of a new local transport plan which will go out to public consultation in the spring.

It is in support of the county’s ambitions for 2031 by when an estimated 100,000 new homes will have been built and 85,000 jobs created.

Meanwhile, a bid to introduce parking wardens in Henley has failed. The town council supports civil parking enforcement because it believes the police don’t have enough time to devote to it.

But Oxfordshire County Council said it would only consider introducing it across the whole county and only if all the district and town councils agreed.

Cherwell District Council is said to be “lukewarm” about the idea.

South Oxfordshire District Council, which would have run the scheme, carried out a survey of residents and found the majority were against it.

David Buckle, the council’s chief executive, said the scheme was cost-prohibitive and it was difficult to get all parties to agree to it.

He said: “The county council said a few months back that because of the costs associated with putting this in place they wouldn’t be in a position to fund it.

“To make it more it more cost-effective they wanted to roll it out to the three district councils, South Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse and Cherwell, but Cherwell are lukewarm about it.

“We discussed it and we kept going around the bush so in the end the councillors decided it was no longer a priority.”

Speaking at a meeting of the town council’s town and community committee, Cllr Akehurst said: “It is utterly ridiculous to use highly trained policemen and police community support officers to issue parking tickets. It is a ludicrous waste of taxpayers’ money.”

But Councillor Joan Bland said: “All the feedback I have heard is that it is not cost-effective.”

The town and community committee has agreed to continue paying half the cost of a police community support officer for the next three years, £16,700 per year, subject to the agreement of the full council.

— as someone who genuinely wants to improve the condition of the town and the running of the town.

“What’s more I made it quite clear that I apologised if I had hurt any of the gay community and made it quite clear my wife and I have friends in the gay community and we bear them no malice at all.

“I would simply say, ‘please judge me on my record’.”

Cllr Silvester said his letter was criticising the Government, not individuals, and added: “It was the Government who tried to change the law of God and it was that I was objecting to.”

Following his comments, the town council passed on 12 complaints about Cllr Silvester to the district council, whose monitoring officer decided that an investigation was necessary.

Two complaints, by Vanessa Hoare and Sarah Butcher, were taken forward as part of the investigation.

The district council ruled the councillors’ code of conduct did not apply, saying Cllr Silvester was not acting in his capacity as a member of the town council when he wrote the letter, even though he had signed it “Councillor David Silvester” and he was criticising the Prime Minister and leader of the party that he used to represent. After being cleared, Cllr Silvester said his only regret was the “aggro” for his wife and that he felt vindicated.

In the letter, Cllr Silvester accused David Cameron of acting “arrogantly against the Gospel” and causing the nation to be “beset by serious storms and floods” by passing the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act.

He was widely condemned and suspended and then expelled by UKIP.

An online petition calling for his resignation was signed by more than 25,000 people and his home was targeted by vandals who threw eggs at the property and hung a gay pride banner on the wall.

Cllr Silvester, who said he had received hundreds of letters of support, first publicly raised the issue of gay marriage when he wrote to Mr Cameron in 2012, threatening to resign from the Conservative Party.

He advised the Prime Minister “most strongly” not to proceed with the same-sex marriage proposals. He quit the Conservatives in 2013 and he joined UKIP.

He is treasurer of the Henley over-60s club, a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator and a member of the Chilterns Conservation Board and the Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils.

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