Wed, 25 Sept 2019
A CAMPAIGN to advise drivers stuck at Thatcham’s level crossing to switch off their engines is being explored by councillors.
A suggestion for more anti-idling signage near the station also sparked a call for greater enforcement against HGVs at a recent town council meeting.
Proposing the additional signage, deputy leader Jennifer Walker (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) said: “It may be a benefit for schools as well.
“It reduces emissions and improves air quality.
“Seven minutes spent idling is equivalent of one mile of driving.”
Addressing councillors, resident Mr Murray said that the money spent on the proposed signs could be better spent on enforcing the weight restriction on Crookham Hill.
He said that lorries, some from local firms, were using the route, and that councillors should try and clamp down on it.
Speaking from experience, he said that writing to the companies to remind them of the restriction would be best, as the council and police had not acted on his concerns.
Agreeing that the weight limit should be better enforced, Richard Foster (Lib Dem, Thatcham Colthrop & Crookham) said that the district council should be asked to step in.
But he added: “I wonder if we can go further and actually organise somebody or a group of people to take pictures, when the gates are down and traffic is stationary.
“The right thing to do is say “we have taken your number and will be contacting your transport manager and if it happens again we will contact the police’.”
Mr Foster said he would like to see more no anti-idling signs.
“There is some, but it’s so tiny that nobody sees it,” he said.
“I would like to see large signs, compatible with the climate emergency and people need to realise that every little bit matters.”
Aiming to spread further awareness of the polluting effects of idling engines, deputy mayor John Boyd (Lib Dem, Thatcham Colthrop & Crookham), suggested signs could be placed outside schools.
He said the town council could hold a poster design competition, with the winners work being posted around the town.
“If we can take the lead on this and take it forward others might come on board and it might escalate through the schools. If we can get the children involved they can nag the parents about the issue of engine idling.”
But Mr Foster said it would be quicker to write to the district council.
“If we ask now we can get action relatively quickly but to do a competition it could take a year and I think that’s inappropriate,” he said.
Simon Pike (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) added: “I think if we put them on a road away from a school it would appear to be an advert rather than a road sign.”
Town council leader David Lister (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) concluded: “I fully support this.
“I think it’s important that we have signs for the rail crossing.
“There will be an increase in rail movements between London and Newbury and it’s not clear whether it will benefit Thatcham at all or if it will lead to the crossing going down more often.”