Monday, 01 March 2021

School finally wins campaign for new pedestrian crossing

School finally wins campaign for new pedestrian crossing

A PEDESTRIAN crossing is to be installed on a busy road in Henley after more than a decade of campaigning.

Staff and parents at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, off Greys Hill, have been calling for more than a decade for a zebra crossing in Greys Road, which is used by pupils to walk to and from school.

Now Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, has approved the idea.

The crossing will be located a short distance from the “pram walk” at the top of Makins recreation ground and almost immediately opposite the Takhar Wine Mart and should be in place by February.

Public consultation was carried out in July and 129 people, many of them Sacred Heart parents, were in favour of the crossing.

They said they had witnessed a number of “near misses” involving children and teenagers and that drivers often exceeded the 30mph speed limit. Amardeep Takhar, the owner of Takhar Wine Mart, was among five people who objected, saying the crossing would mean the loss of several parking spaces outside his shop, which would negatively affect his business.

Other opponents said the crossing wouldn’t deter drivers from parking nearby and reducing visibility, while forcing drivers to slow down would increase air pollution.

A meeting convened by the county council’s transport member Yvonne Constance last week accepted officers’ recommendation that the crossing was approved.

The officers carried out a 12-hour traffic survey in the area and found that 4,660 cars had passed while 356 people, a third of them children or teenagers, had tried to cross the road.

Rachel Gavin, headteacher at the school, told the meeting: “We are extremely fortunate that, to date, no major accident has occurred on Greys Road as children have been travelling to and from school.

“However, given the speed at which the cars travel and the sheer volume of traffic, I fear that it may only be a matter of time.

“There are currently no crossings at all on Greys Road, which provides access to several schools and other facilities.

“Crossing is currently difficult due to parked cars blocking visibility, including those pulled over on double yellow lines when visiting the Takhar shop. Commercial needs should not be put before safety.”

The county council will now seek quotes for the work, which has been estimated at about £37,000.

Henley Town Council has agreed in principle to pay and the county will pay for the road resurfacing.

Henley town, district and county councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, who campaigned for the crossing, said: “I’m extremely pleased with the result as there is a demonstrable need which was clearly acknowledged.

“This will also benefit people using the recreation ground, the skate park, Trinity Primary School and more. I’ve always thought it’s important to put pedestrians before vehicles.”

Councillor Gawrysiak is campaigning for two more crossings near the entrance to Swiss Farm in Marlow Road and in Gravel Hill.

A speed survey has been conducted at the first site and one will be carried out in Gravel Hill once a 20mph speed limit has been implemented in the town centre, which is expected shortly.

Cllr Gawrysiak said: “We don’t want to ban cars but people should be able to cross the road without letting 50 cars pass before there’s a gap.”

The town council is expected to fund the crossings using statutory contributions from housing developers.

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