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Bid to slow down traffic in Thatcham

'Calming Benham Hill' want to improve safety on the A4

Bid to slow down traffic in Thatcham

THATCHAM residents have launched a campaign to tackle traffic on a stretch of the A4, in a bid to stop people from being injured.

Calming Benham Hill is calling on West Berkshire Council to slow down traffic and improve safety between Henwick Lane and the Tull Way roundabout. 

The campaign was launched following a collision between a car and a motorbike at the junction of Pound Lane last year, in which a 17-year-old sustained serious leg injuries. 

Group co-ordinator Keith Bright said: “We stood there and thought ‘this can’t go on’. 

“We just want to stop having to go out to injured people and do what we can to help that.” 

Residents have been going door-to- door with a petition, which has racked up more than 400 signatures. 

Professor Bright said that the number of names showed a “considerable level of concern among local people and desire for traffic calming”.

The campaign is calling on the council to extend the 30mph limit from Henwick Lane to the Tull Way roundabout and to install crossing islands on Benham Hill, near the Pound Lane junction, to increase safety for pedestrians and to prevent overtaking in the cross-hatched area.

Supporters also want to change Pound Lane to a stop junction rather than a give-way junction and install a speed camera along the stretch of road.

Residents carried out their own traffic survey to support their campaign, as they say that the last one conducted by the council was back in 2007.

That survey recorded 2,459 vehicles travelling in both directions along Benham Hill between 7am and 9am on April 10, during the Easter holidays and when residents said traffic was lighter than usual.   

The data showed that 307 vehicles used Pound Lane and that four of the 11 motorbikes recorded used the crosshatch section for overtaking.

Prof Bright said that the existing crossings, at Henwick Lane and the garden centre, were not appropriately placed for people using Pound Lane or catching eastbound buses.  

He also said he believed the requests were not expensive, adding that the group was trying to arrange a meeting with the council and police to see what could be done. 

Calming Benham Hill’s petition will be presented to West Berkshire Council’s executive next month.

To find out more, or to sign the petition, email calmingbenhamhill@gmail.com     

District councillors for Thatcham West Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con) and Jeff Brooks (Lib Dem) have both pledged their support for the campaign. 

Mr Brooks said: “They’ve got quite a good little campaign. I think it’s really on the money. 

“I’m personally nervous about pedestrians crossing from Henwick field to the south.

“They won’t walk along to the roundabout, they will just try and go straight across the road, where there’s fairly fast traffic. 

“The first thing should be a speed survey. Let’s get some data and see what we can do.

“The most important thing is to take it down to 30mph, but the officers are not convinced about that.

“Two pedestrian islands would have a calming effect on that area, that would be my main expectation. 

“I personally think we need to go past the roundabout to the lights as you are coming up from Newbury.” 

Mr Ardagh-Walter said: “In general, I’m absolutely sympathetic. Safety is something we shouldn’t be complacent around.

“I’m aware of at least one accident involving a motorcyclist at Pound Lane.

“With rising traffic, and unfortunately a minority of motorists driving too fast, it’s a problem that needs to be tackled.

“I’m confident that something can be done in the near term to balance the saftey of different users.” 

Both councillors said they had been talking to highways officers about the campaign and its requests. 

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Article comments

  • Ihavenonickname

    30/05/2018 - 14:02

    So there has been a non-fatal motorcycle injury at the Junction of Pound Lane with the A4 and four of eleven motorcycles caught using the hatched area for overtaking. No mention of pedestrian injuries and no mention of serious RTA's causing death or serious injury. Seems like a perfectly safe section of road warranting the current 40 MPH speed limit.

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  • NewburyLad

    30/05/2018 - 09:09

    Why not target "the minority of motorists driving too fast" and make their lives an absolute misery with draconian penalties instead of blanket targeting everyone?

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  • mjkpio

    30/05/2018 - 09:09

    "have been going door-to-door with a petition" - well they didn't go very far. I live in that area and haven't heard anything about this. Agree that traffic can go quickly along that part of the road, but equally I have had to avoid pedestrians who do not look before crossing and school kids who wander or run out in front of cars. Perhaps we could look at ways to improve pedestrian safety without impacting the reasonable 30 into 40mph limit stretch.

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