Controversial Wargrave road system to be made permanentBy Jon Nurse
January 18, 2013
A controversial road layout to stop drivers mounting the pavement to allow cars to pass them in a narrow village street has been made permanent.
Parking spaces were stripped from Wargrave High Street as part of a trial after a ‘near miss’ when a car drove on the footpath to create space for oncoming traffic.
Despite objections and claims that the new layout was still putting lives at risk, highways boss Keith Baker ruled the experimental laybys had reduced the risk to pedestrians and made the scheme permanent last Tuesday.
The trial, near Manor Cottages, was met with hostility when it started in August 2011, with a 110-signature petition being handed in to the council the following month.
Objectors warned the scheme wasn’t stopping all cases of vehicles mounting the kerb, could increase speeding through the village, and exacerbated the issue of High Street’s lack of parking.
But Cllr Baker, executive member for highways and planning, said: “I’m confident and comfortable we have done everything feasibly possible to minimise the risk.
“Have the issues totally improved as much as I’d like? They never will. Traffic hazards will always be there. But I think we have achieved more than I expected, which is good.”
One High Street resident complained during the scheme: “The increase in safety created by the removal of parking bays is highly subjective.
“This is no Armageddon. We want to maintain Wargrave as a community which is good to live in, not have a High Street where cars and lorries just race through.”
One resident reported her mother was ‘nearly killed’ when a cement truck pulled up beside her.
She said: “Traffic is still driving up the pavement on a daily basis and at a much greater speed than before the parking scheme started.”
Another objector said she felt the scheme had put her children’s lives at risk as she felt it would cause more traffic to travel through the village at speed and encourage larger lorries to use the route.
Cllr Baker added: “We haven’t experienced some of the excesses that were feared by some residents such as increased speeding. We didn’t expect it to because of the nature of the road – but it was a fear.
“There were also concerns they wouldn’t pull in, but I’ve been down there personally and seen that a number of them do.
“Quite a few residents who originally were vocally against the change have said it hasn’t been as bad as they expected.”
Critics of the parking scheme have pointed to other solutions, but Cllr Baker explained that nothing could be done to adjust the height of the pavement and that bollards couldn’t be installed as they would restrict space for prams and mobility scooters.