Thursday, 28 October 2021

HGVs could be banned from town during night

HEAVY goods vehicles could be banned from Henley during the night.

The move has been suggested by David Nimmo Smith, who represents the town on Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, and is cabinet member for environment and transport.

He is proposing that the ban should apply from 11pm to 6am.

Councillor Nimmo Smith said: “It’s just a way of allowing the residents in the centre of the town to sleep.

“People complain about the fact their houses shake at night and there’s noise. I’ve had emails in the past from people in Bell Street and New Street who say they get woken up by HGVs coming through and asking what was I doing about it.

“There’s also the air quality aspect because at night in the summer people sleep with the windows open. It will take a little bit of time to work up a scheme. I’ve asked the [council] officers what sort of legislation is necessary, how can it be monitored and how can it be implemented.

“We’ll then have to have a statutory six-week consultation. Having done that it will then come forward to the county council’s cabinet for approval.

“I think the benefits would be very good for the town and it would go a long way to showing people that we do mean business and we want to get something done.”

The scheme would cost about £50,000 to implement, including signposting.

Cllr Nimmo Smith said the money would need to come from the Community Infrastructure Levy, which is paid by developers.

“The money has got to come from somewhere,” he said. “The county council doesn’t have any money down the back of the proverbial sofa.

“There’s only a certain amount of development proposed for Henley, and a certain amount of money raised from that, but we already know there’s a long list that people in the community want to happen and there won’t be enough money to do everything.”

He added that the scheme would be “too low key” for the Department for Transport to provide funding.

Another issue would be enforcement as this would require cameras to monitor traffic at night.

Cllr Nimmo Smith, a Conservative who is standing for re-election to the county council on May 4, said the scheme would be the first step towards banning long-distance HGVs which use Henley.

Some drivers had genuine business in the town but others used it as a rat run rather than using the A34, M4 and M40, he said.

Cllr Nimmo Smith continued: “Like most people, I’ve followed fully-laden lorries up Remenham Hill, knowing they have come from somewhere else and they are not stopping in the town. We want to try and discourage that.

“Signs would also need to be installed in places like Crowmarsh Gifford, Marlow, Reading and on the M4, warning drivers of the restrictions so that they could take an alternative route.”

In 2013, Judy Dinsdale, of Northfield End, told how her listed home was being split in two by the vibrations from huge lorries driving past on a sub-standard road surface.

This week, she said: “????

Dave McEwen, a member of environmental group Henley in Transition, said: “?????

In May 2014, an official request was made by Henley Town Council to the county council to consider introducing a traffic regulation order to restrict HGVs using Henley Bridge but little progress has been made.

Air pollution campaigner David Dickie, of St Katherine’s Road, said: “It’s a good first step but they should be looking at daytime HGVs as well, especially the ones which are nowhere near full.

“Cllr Nimmo Smith has asked them [officers] to look at it but we’re not actually actioning anything after all this time.

“To start to say ‘we’re looking at something’ I still think is poor. To some extent I think it’s electioneering.”

Last year, South Oxfordshire District Council’s air quality officer Claire Spendley said idling diesel vehicles, not HGVs or buses, were the main cause of the town’s air pollution problem.

The town council is currently pursuing the idea of a town-wide 20mph speed limit to help ease traffic congestion and improve air quality but this would cost £30,000 to implement.

The levels of nitrogen dioxide in parts of Henley are 50 per cent higher than Air Quality England’s target limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

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