A MAJOR route through Thatcham will be closed off during Remembrance Sunday in order to cope with high attendance on the day.
The number of people attending Thatcham’s parade, which goes from the Broadway to the war memorial on the A4, has increased year on year.
Indeed, last year’s service saw more than 700 people parade through the town and more than 2,000 in the crowd.
Lane restrictions and rolling road closures had managed to cope, but councillors and community organisations have now deemed it necessary to close the A4 on Sunday, November 13.
But there was disagreement over spending £2,000 on hiring a traffic management company to oversee the closure.
Speaking at a Thatcham Town Council meeting last week, deputy leader Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said he wouldn’t be happy spending the money.
But his wife and town mayor Ellen Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said: “We did have a near miss last year. People were filling up the pavement and traffic was still whizzing by. We simply can’t take that risk again.
“The reason for closing it is not just to suit the parade, it’s safety.”
Town council leader Jason Collis (Con, Thatcham North) said: “The numbers attending have gone up year on year. It’s one of the biggest civic events we now have.
“I share councillor Crumly’s concerns, but in the interest of public safety we have to listen to advice we are given by professionals.”
Nathan Gregory (Con, Thatcham South and Crookham) agreed, saying that the closure would respect the reverence the event deserved.
The funding will come from £1,420 in earmarked reserves plus an £88 underspend from another event budget. The £492 shortfall could be found from reserves.
Mr Crumly voted against the spend.
Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Crumly said: “The town council appreciates that these road closures will cause disruption to people in the town. This is a very important occasion and the number of residents attending is increasing each year.
“Drivers passing the memorial during the service have been very considerate in the past, but we have reached the point where we need more space for the public.
“There is now an additional cost to cover the equipment and contractors that are required for the new road closure, but it is felt that this is a justifiable expense to ensure the safety of those attending.”
The A4 will be closed between Park Lane and the Catholic Church from 10.30am until noon, with through-traffic being diverted to the north of the town via Tull Way and Floral Way.
The route and road closures is available at www.thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk