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Drivers risking lives at Headley Ford shortcut

A339 roadworks last week exacerbated problem

Jane Meredith

Reporter:

Jane Meredith

Email:

jane.meredith@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886637

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ROADWORKS on the A339 near Headley tempted drivers to risk their lives taking a short cut through the notoriously dangerous Headley Ford last week.

With winter weather and flash floods on the horizon, a Headley villager has again highlighted the dangers of driving through the ford.

Excruciatingly long traffic delays, due to a week of roadworks at the A339  Thornford Road junction, and associated three-way traffic lights, had tempted drivers to drive through Headley Ford on Thornford Road, which straddles the Berkshire and Hampshire border.

According to Headley villager, Simon Hiscock, the vehicles of several drivers had been spotted stranded in the ford during the roadworks.

He said: “They have been using the ford and getting stuck left, right and centre.

“A Mercedes Sprinter van was stuck in there.”

Middlesex judge Jonathan Gammon was swept away and drowned at the Thornford Road ford following flash floods in April 2012 after following sat nav instructions.

The ford was closed following an inquest into Mr Gammon’s death in October 2012 and remains officially shut to traffic – except for local access – following a prohibition of driving order, made on December 16, 2014.

Inadequate barriers on both sides of the ford mean that drivers are continuing to risk their lives driving through it, simply to save time.

The West Berkshire side of the ford, he continued, did not have any barrier, while the barrier on the Hampshire side could be lifted aside.

Businessman, Mr Hiscock, owner of Headley Plumbing and Heating Services, said he could totally understand drivers’ frustrations at the long delay.

He said: “We lost 16 business hours waiting in traffic last week – and the times you went past and no-one was working there...”

Headley parish councillors have previously pointed out dangers posed by different river bed levels at the ford.

Depths range from just over one foot at the sides to three feet in the centre, where the river bed drops suddenly away, with fast-flowing currents.

Earlier this year, a 20-strong group of villagers, including several farmers, met Hampshire County Council’s head of highways, Adrian Gray, at the ford to discuss the issue.

At the time, Mr Hiscock who was at the meeting, said some residents wanted the ford to be locked up, after being designated a permanent no-through road, with access for local farmers.

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