County Council To Reconsider Town Weight Limit Restriction and Agree to ANPR Study

Campaigners trying to obtain an environmental weight limit to restrict large HGVs using Henley as a short-cut are pleased that Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) have committed to a budget of £100K to carry out ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) study in Henley.

In October 2022 OCC launched a new transport plan that went out to consultation which outlined a county-wide zonal highways plan with recommended suitable routes for HGVs and no town weight-restrictions.

Amanda Chumas from the Henley HGV Weight Limit Campaign said, “We put in a considerable amount of effort both assisting Henley Town Council (HTC) in preparing their submission for the consultation process and preparing one on behalf of the Campaign to dovetail with HTC’s submission. It’s clear that the gallery photographic evidence and letters citing concerns about this issue provided by Campaign supporters were critical in gaining OCC attention.”

OCC have now concluded that the concept of zonal highways plan will not work and have agreed to develop plans for studies, data collection and options analysis which is due to last from now until April 2025.   Cameras will be placed on routes used by HGVs and data will identify the routes that vehicles are taking.

Amanda added, “From the studies, OCC may initiate an experimental weight limit trial in order to prevent this. Until there is a legal restriction in place, satnavs and route planning software will continue to send large HGVs through Henley in order to minimise journey time. The weight restriction would not prohibit large HGVs having genuine business in Henley or its immediate surrounding area.”

The campaign is also looking at the bridge’s condition and structural capacity and is recommending that an independent assessment is required.  The last OCC report on the bridge was done in 2012 and they have identified some shortcomings.  A report is anticipated to cost between £5,000 and £6,000, with a further £2,000 for sonar studies below the water line to assess foundations.  Historic England will be asked to enter discussions on this and at the HTC Transport & Strategy meeting it was agreed that County Councillor Gawrysiak should recommend to OCC that HTC, OCC and Wokingham Borough Council to share the costs of the proposed independent study, as well as requesting access to the biennial interim structural reports.

Amanda explained, “Periodic visual inspections have taken place since, but current recommendations are that detailed structural analyses be undertaken on a six yearly cycle, especially as the bridge has cracks under some arches.”

The campaign are keen to continue sending photographic or video evidence to OCC which demonstrates the problem of through HGVs. So, they are asking residents to keep your mobiles handy and snap away when you see large HGVs causing intimidation within the town, examples of bad driving or obvious long-distance HGVs particularly those with foreign number plates to henleyhgvwatch@gmail.com

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