Councils Can’t Agree Who is Responsible for Graffiti on Bridge

The unsightly H graffiti tag that was sprayed on Henley bridge next to Regatta HQ on 1 May last year could still be there for Henley Royal Regatta this year as two Councils (Wokingham BC and Oxfordshire CC) cannot agree who is responsible.

Oxfordshire County Council are responsible for the maintenance and highways of the bridge but have referred the problem of removing the graffiti to the Conservation Team at Wokingham BC who are the planning authority for the Berkshire side of the bridge where the graffiti has been sprayed.  This was stated in Henley Town Council’s Town & Community Committee progress report.

Wokingham BC Cllr Paul Fishwick, Executive Member for active travel, transport and highways, said, “Although roughly half of the road crossing Henley Bridge is our adopted highway, we understand that responsibility for removing this graffiti lies with Oxfordshire County Council, the local highways authority on the other side of the Thames.

“Historically, rather than each of us taking responsibility for maintaining ‘our’ half of Henley Bridge, the county council has taken responsibility for the entire structure while in turn we’ve taken responsibility for all of Sonning Bridge, which lies further upstream and likewise crosses the border where our areas meet.

“However, because of the potentially delicate nature of the cleaning work and the need to avoid damaging the stonework of this important Grade I listed structure, it is believed that Oxfordshire County Council will have to obtain listed building permission before it can go any further.

“We’re therefore in discussions with the county council and searching our own records to determine whether it should be seeking this permission from us, in our capacity as the local planning authority, or our counterparts in planning on the other side at South Oxfordshire District Council.”

Oxfordshire CC spokesperson previously said, “The work will require listed building consent and we have approached graffiti removal companies to carry out this work. Unfortunately the porous nature of the limestone construction of this Grade I listed structure may mean that the damage cannot be easily reversed. It is not possible to give a timescale at this stage.”

We asked The Henley Society Chairman, Geoff Luckett what he thought of this debacle!  He replied, “The people of Henley have no jurisdiction on Henley bridge.  Wokingham and SODC have the say on planning and OCC on the highways.  It is totally wrong that we don’t have any say.  It is totally shocking what is happening.  We are still trying to also sort out the tarmac pavement on the bridge.  The internet cabling company who did the work either lost or got rid of the York paving slabs and OCC say they can’t find slabs to replace them.  We understand that the contractor is being fined by OCC for this but where is the money going? Certainly it’s not being given back to Henley.”

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