Tue, 21 Jan 2020
WEST Berkshire Council was accused of “kicking the can down the road” after a bid to reduce the speed limit on the A4 near the Henwick fields was passed on.
Council chairman Graham Pask (Con, Bucklebury) recommended that Jeff Brooks’ (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) motion should not be debated and passed to the council’s speed limit review group instead.
The task group, which comprises council officers, local councillors and the police, meets once a year – in November.
Disappointed, Mr Brooks said: “This road is too fast, this road is dangerous.
“I get a lot of residents, we all do, come up and say ‘are you going to do something about this road, there’s going to be an accident’.
“And I’m quite calm and measured in my response to those, but this one I think they got right and there are accidents happening already.”
Mr Brooks referred to an accident covered by the Newbury Weekly News in which an eight-year-old girl had her foot run over as she stepped out of the cycle lane.
He said: “It is urgent that we do something about this. It is anomalous. You have people attending the sports field crossing that busy stretch... you have children crossing that busy stretch to go to Trinity School.
“This is a matter of concern and about a year ago about 400 people put their name to a petition saying something needs to be done.”
Mr Brooks said he was grateful that crossing points had been installed, but added: “Since then we have had this accident with this young girl and since then we don’t believe that that road should be at 40mph.
“It is not treating this with a high degree of urgency to kick the can down the road to November for the next speed limit review group.”
Turning his frustration to the council’s executive member for transport, Richard Somner (Con, Tilehurst South and Holybrook), Mr Brooks said: “This should be accelerated as urgent, councillor Somner, and I’m looking for you to help me with this rather than go back to the people of Thatcham West and tell them that you are going to spend 11 months before you look at this.
“That is not good enough.”
And not finished yet, Mr Brooks added: “I’m looking at you to expedite this more urgently than that; because I will go back and I will tell all those residents that you are dragging your heels by simply referring it to the speed limit task group which frankly should meet more regularly than annually.”
Mr Brooks added that reducing the speed limit would add around 15 seconds to a vehicle journey time along the stretch of road.
Again turning to Mr Somner, he said: “I invite you to come and stand on that road and observe the dangerous speed that traffic is going along there, including a lot of heavy goods vehicles.
“Come and have a look and you will agree that it needs to be tackled urgently”.
Mr Somner thanked Mr Brooks for his speech, before adding: “Frankly you didn’t need to make it quite that passionately.
“This is something that I’m quite happy to have a conversation with you about and it’s something I’m quite happy to take forward with my officers.”