Traffic in Ivinghoe FAQs
These FAQs provide answers to the most common questions we receive about road and traffic issues in the Ivinghoe area. These particularly focus on problems with Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs), damage to Brownlow Bridge and our plans to tackle the issues.
What is happening about damage to Brownlow Bridge?
As a result of damage to Brownlow Bridge, the Canal & River Trust (owner of the bridge) undertook a structural assessment. They advised that, for health and safety reasons, the bridge should no longer carry traffic weighing above 18 tonnes until it is repaired. It was our responsibility as the local highways authority to take immediate action and we introduced a temporary weight restriction of 18 tonnes on the bridge, which will remain in place until the necessary repairs are complete. This work was scheduled for January 2020 but due to nesting bats, ecology law prevents us from starting work until later in the year, so we plan to start works autumn 2020. Funding has been set aside for this work and contractors appointed to start in January, so the delay is not ideal for us but is unfortunately unavoidable.
How are you going to prevent Brownlow Bridge being damaged again after it’s been repaired?
Once repairs have been made to strengthen the bridge, it will be stronger than before. The bridge will be capable of taking the weight of vehicles of up to 44 tonnes with no damage to the structure. Any weight restrictions we might apply would not primarily be for structural reasons, it would be to prevent HGV traffic from easily entering the Ivinghoe area and accessing local roads unnecessarily.
We want trucks out of the villages and off country lanes. The temporary weight restriction on Brownlow Bridge has really helped. Why don’t you make that restriction permanent?
Recent surveys we’ve carried out in the area confirm significant reductions in the number of HGVs travelling through Ivinghoe since the temporary 18 tonne weight restriction was put in place. And we are determined to tackle the problems caused by HGV traffic using inappropriate routes permanently. However, a blanket ban on these vehicles won’t work for everyone. This is because we need to consider the needs of residents but also the needs of local businesses. We must enable local businesses, shops, services and community facilities to operate, employ local residents, grow and bring income into the county. We have set out our commitments in the Buckinghamshire Freight Strategy 2018, stating that we will:
- promote the use of suitable routes for large and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs)
- ensure HGV traffic stays off unsuitable roads
- minimise negative impacts on residents and the environment
- support local business needs
What happens when the bridge has been repaired and the temporary weight restriction comes to an end?
We have spoken with some local residents, organisations and businesses already to get a feel for what local people would like to see happen to tackle the traffic issues. There are 4 options to consider and these are summarised below.
- Do nothing, allow access to all vehicles over Brownlow Bridge and all roads in the area
- Put in place a permanent 7.5 tonne weight restriction on Brownlow Bridge only but have no other restriction on roads in the local area
- Put in place a permanent 7.5 tonne weight restriction on Brownlow Bridge and a 7.5 tonne environmental restriction zone around roads in the local area with no exceptions
- Put in place a permanent 7.5 tonne weight restriction on Brownlow Bridge and a 7.5 tonne environmental restriction zone around the area with an exception for local traffic
How would a 7.5 tonne restriction work?
A 7.5 tonne weight restriction on Brownlow Bridge and all roads within a restriction zone would mean all vehicles weighing up to 7.5 tonne could use local roads. But any vehicle over 7.5 tonne would have to use alternative routes outside the area. This would be extremely problematic for local deliveries and business needs.
If there was an exception for local traffic it would enable direct access to homes and businesses within the zone. This includes vehicles for deliveries, collections, waste removal, emergency services, winter road maintenance, public transport and agriculture.
A weight limit would be clearly signposted on Brownlow Bridge and around the restriction zone. Thames Valley Police and the Council’s Trading Standards department would be responsible for enforcing the order. The maximum fine that can be applied to a driver or operating company is currently £1,000.
We would also work with businesses and HGV companies to highlight the restriction and promote more appropriate routes. We would continue to monitor HGV movements in the area and follow up issues with relevant companies to prevent future problems. We would also want to work with the local communities to help us monitor and address issues as they arise.
What difference do you think it will make if there’s a 7.5 tonne weight restriction on roads in the area?
Based on our discussions with Central Bedfordshire Council and Hertfordshire County Council who have introduced similar restrictions, we believe that HGV traffic on local roads could reduce by up to 80%. We would need to work proactively with local businesses and freight companies to communicate the change, especially at the outset. This would make a significant improvement to residents’ quality of life. Of course, this figure can’t be guaranteed, but we’re sure residents will notice the difference.
What about HGVs accessing the airfield?
The airfield would fall within the proposed 7.5 tonne environmental weight restriction zone, so HGVs accessing the site would be classified as local traffic and the exception would apply. The airfield is an important employer in the local area with over 400 employees, 357 of which live in local villages. We will continue to work with the airfield and support them to be a considerate neighbour to local communities, ensuring freight traffic for their business is driven responsibly.
What can you do about local hotspots where HGVs cause most problems, including speeding?
Speeding HGVs are no different to any other speeding vehicle and should be treated in the same way. Speeding vehicle details are captured by the local communities and problems reported to Thames Valley Police. Where local residents have identified HGV hotspots, in the majority of cases they are locations where drivers fail to give proper consideration to potential hazards such as road narrowing, twisty bends, parked vehicles, no pavements or the school run. Reducing the number of HGVs in total will reduce the problem. And the risk is reduced even more if there are less HGV drivers who are unfamiliar with the roads because they are just passing through. If the option to allow local HGV access is chosen, the same companies and drivers will be using local roads regularly, and be prepared to deal with these hazards. In that situation if there continues to be problems we will have been focusing our communication with local companies and their HGV operators so we can address issues as they arise.
What’s being done about damage to other bridges across the canal?
The Canal and River Trust own bridges that span the canal and is responsible for monitoring their structural safety. We will continue to work with them on any future issues that arise on other bridges. As the Highway Authority, we are responsible for maintaining the road surface over the canal bridges and have a duty of care to help ensure that these bridges remain capable of carrying the types of traffic permitted to cross them.
What can you do about HGVs speeding in the area?
The proposed vehicle restriction won’t address the issue of speeding trucks, or any other vehicles exceeding the speed limit. Speeding is an issue that must be reported to and dealt with by the Thames Valley Police.
Many of the local roads are in a poor condition what are you going to do about it?
We know the condition of roads is a concern for people across the county, even though Government figures show our roads are in better condition than many other areas in the South East. We have an ongoing programme of road maintenance works throughout the year and we are continually assessing road conditions and prioritising those most in need of repair. This does mean, of course, that some roads will take longer to get round to than we would like. Any concerns about the condition of roads, or any maintenance issues, should be reported using Fix My Street - doing so will make sure we assess the needs and schedule works accordingly.