Safety fears as lorries 'bypass' M4 in Berkshire and 'mount kerbs' in Henley-on-Thames

  • ITV News Meridian's Juliette Fletcher spoke to residents in Henley-on-Thames

People living in an Oxfordshire town say they do not feel safe walking down the street due to the number of lorries using the town as a cut through to avoid the motorway.

Residents say the number of HGVs travelling through Henley-on-Thames is making it dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, with claims that some vehicles are even driving over pavements.

Oxfordshire County Council says it is putting up cameras to monitor the extent of the problem.

More than one thousand large lorries travel through the town's historic streets every day.

In some places, the roads and pavements are narrow leading residents to worry about their safety as well as pollution levels.

David Dickie, Henley resident, said: "I bought an electric bike during Covid, to cycle around the town, but I don't come down into town anymore, it's too dangerous.

"At the corner of Bell Street and New Street, they go over the kerb several times a day and I've seen prams there and women have to get out of the way as lorries can't get round.

"Here lorries go right out across the road and anyone walking across the bridge is in real danger."

Last year Oxfordshire County Council carried out a weight restriction survey and identified the town as an area that needs investigation. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Campaigners accept that some vehicles need to come through the town to reach local destinations, but what they would like to stop is those using the market town as a cut through to reach locations further afield.

Rhys Williams, Road Haulage Association, said: "These vehicles could be delivering in the town.

"There's industry in the town, supermarkets, pubs and filling stations, which all require HGVs to deliver goods to them.

"Before we can say they are using it as a rat run, we need to have evidence."

Last year Oxfordshire County Council carried out a countywide weight restriction survey and identified Henley-on-Thames as an area that needed further investigation.

A spokesperson for Oxfordshire County Council said: "Oxfordshire County Council adopted a Freight and Logistics Strategy in July 2022 to provide more detail about the challenges associated with the movement of goods in the county.

"The first action completed was a countywide area weight restriction study between January and June 2023.

"The study identified some areas where action may be required and recommended that further investigation would be beneficial.

"We are now conducting these more detailed studies in two areas, Henley and the Windrush Valley.

"The Henley HGV study work involves additional data collection using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to better understand HGV movements in the area.

"Following data collection and analysis, county council officers will work with a range of stakeholders to develop and appraise potential options."

Oxfordshire County Council says it is putting up cameras to monitor the extent of the problem. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The county council has set aside £100,000 for the project and councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, who represents Henley-on-Thames, hopes an 18 tonne weight limit will be introduced for lorries passing through.

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, Town, District and County Councillor for Henley-on-Thames, said: "It would mean that big lorries delivering to local business would still be allowed but the ones going from Slough to Didcot would be fined if they came through the town.

"We want the lorries just to go on the appropriate routes, dual carriageways and motorways, not Henley's streets.

Cameras will be placed in Henley-on-Thames, Maidenhead, Wallingford and Marlow.

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