Friday, 12 August 2022

'Persuade drivers to park out of town'

PERSUADING drivers to use car parks outside Henley town centre would help tackle the town’s traffic and air pollution problems, says an expert.

Traffic consultant Ben Hamilton-Baillie suggested that shoppers and visitors could be encouraged to park at the station or Henley Rugby Club and that having better signage would help drivers unfamiliar with the town.

He was speaking during a closed meeting with councillors on Thursday last week after he was hired by the town council at a rate of £850-a-day to suggest ideas for reducing congestion and vehicle exhaust fumes.

Mr Hamilton-Baillie, who is based in Bristol, spent the day cycling around Henley and taking pictures before the evening meeting with
members of the council’s transport strategy group.

Other ideas that were dis cussed included introducing mini-roundabouts, removing traffic lights, creating mixed pedestrian and traffic areas and scrapping excess signage.

The group has already discussed removing street furniture, creating shared spaces and introducing a 20mph speed limit.

Councillor Julian Brookes, who attended the meeting, said: “Mr Hamilton-Baillie introduced us to schemes which have been introduced elsewhere in the UK and Europe and opened our mind to different ideas.

“One thing he did say was you can’t just move a particular scheme from one town to another as each town is unique. You have to think it through carefully.

“He thought we could improve the uptake of parking at the station and rugby club by making the walks from those car parks to the town centre pedestrian-friendly.

“I found it very useful and thought-provoking.”

Mayor Kellie Hinton said: “It was interesting. The guy knows what he’s doing and made a presentation with some really valid points.

“The kind of things he was suggesting could work in Henley but he admitted they might not.

“The idea of mixing pedestrians and drivers is something that doesn’t sit right with me. There have been several terrorist incidents this year, admittedly not in Henley, and I was brought up with pedestrians on the pavement and cars on the road. There are hundreds times more care on the roads now.”

The meeting was also attended by representatives of Harpsden and Remenham parish councils.

John Halsall, chairman of Remenham Parish Council, said: “Ben Hamilton-Baillie only did a limited survey as he was looking at our issues with completely new eyes. It was a fresh and exciting approach.”

Mr Hamilton-Baillie originally qualified as an architect before moving to work in housing, transport and planning. He founded his company in 2003.

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