Wed, 15 Aug 2018
WEST Berkshire Council said it is committed to exploring the possibility of a bridge over Thatcham’s railway line.
The council’s executive member for highways, Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft), said it would form part of its transport plan.
On the delays at the level crossing, she said: “We understand how frustrating this can be and we hear the arguments for a bridge.
“We have committed to evaluating this option as part of a wider Thatcham study as we work towards a local transport plan.”
Mrs Clifford was responding to questions about air quality at the congested crossing from the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition Alan Macro (Lib Dem, Theale).
She said that the monitoring station that had been based at 159 Station Road had been moved.
“Each year monitoring stations are assessed to see if they are best located to give us valuable data,” she said.
“Three years ago we reviewed the readings of nitrogen dioxide here [at Station Road] and as they had been routinely low over a number of years, we made an informed evidence-based decision to move that monitoring station.”
However, she assured residents in Station Road that this did not mean the council was not aware of their concerns about traffic.
She said: “To sum up, one – we want to assess and respond to traffic issues in Thatcham, including those that arise because of the rail line.
“Two – our monitoring does not indicate an air quality issue at Station Road, but be assured if there is evidence then we will monitor again and we’ll do that quickly.
“I hope people waiting at the level crossing in Thatcham observe our sign ‘cut engine, cut pollution’.”
Mr Macro replied: “Could I ask that you review that sign and I hope there’s more than one.
“I actually couldn’t find any...”
Mrs Clifford interjected: “Well, it’s there, by the level crossing.
“I can show you a photograph.”
Mr Macro finished: “Could we make sure it is far more obvious and just try to persuade people to turn their engines off?
“According to Friends of the Earth, about a third of people either turn them off or their cars turn off automatically.
“But that means that two thirds are running and idling.”
The discussion follows the Colthrop Village Consortium proposing 950-homes and a bridge over the line connecting the development to Pipers Lane.
The consortium is planning to submit its scheme to West Berkshire Council as a new housing site in its updated local plan.