Fears about Henley’s chances of getting a weight limit to prevent its use by HGVs as a through traffic corridor have been raised by two recent events:
First, on 14 December OCC Councillors unanimously passed a motion put up by Goring Councillor, Kevin Bulmer “to implement an agreed Cross County wide network of HGV routes”. He was also recorded on BBC Oxford TV Local News, which aired the night before, saying, “previous notions which just say “I don’t want them (HGVs) in Henley or I don’t want them in wherever, is nimbyism: whereas I’m saying let’s look at it as a whole and decide where the best routes are for these lorries.”
Second, last week OCC Councillors revoked Burford’s Temporary Traffic Restriction Order (TTRO) which for the last 18 months had given them respite from through HGVs. This was done despite the fact that in the Current Local Transport Plan 2015 to 2031 “Connecting Oxfordshire” para17 it states that OCC “will consider environmental weight restrictions across the County, particularly in areas which are subject to significant levels of HGV traffic, prioritising the towns of Burford, Chipping Norton and Henley-on-Thames.”
Burford was the first town to apply for TTRO which was funded by £130,000 of mostly private money raised locally. Burford was seen as the pioneer paving the way for Henley’s application. Consequently Burford’s loss is seen as a grave blow to Henley’s chances of getting its own Weight Limit to stop long distance HGVs using it as a river crossing.
Just before the last County Council elections in 2021, Henley’s Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak’s proposed a motion which agreed that OCC would complete the necessary studies for an environmental weight restriction for Henley in the event that funding to cover the whole cost is secured through development and/or by local communities, businesses and town/parish councils and would not fall on OCC. After that motion was passed by OCC Stefan declared, “It is a major milestone in our campaign to limit through HGVs. I want to stop HGVs using Henley as a rat run, I want to keep them on the Strategic Highway Network. ANY HGV legitimately delivering to Henley will still be allowed in. So supply to Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsburys will be allowed BUT ASDA lorries who do not need to come through Henley will be stopped. I want this ban to protect our natural assets and limit the effects on young, old, Mums, Dads and children. In doing this we will make Henley an even better place to live.”
However, since then, Stefan has been waiting for draft paperwork from OCC Highways outlining the proposal for the environmental study. He gave an update at the Town Council’s Transport Strategy Committee Meeting in December and confirmed that a meeting of the HTC Transport Strategy Committee would take place on 24 January 2022 and would be devoted to the matter of HGVs.