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We have objected to plans by the Henley Festival for the temporary closure of the Thames Path National Trail in July 2017.
Every year since 1998 the Festival has applied to Wokingham Borough Council, the highway authority, for the temporary closure of the path during the Festival, and the council has agreed. The Open Spaces Society, Remenham Parish Council, the Ramblers and others have consistently objected because the closure is unnecessary. The organisations argue that the Festival should rearrange its activities to keep the path open.
We are dismayed that once again the Festival proposes to ride roughshod over the path’s users—they include visitors from this country and overseas, as well as local people wanting a quiet walk by the river.
For many years the Festival operated successfully without closing the path for such long periods.
We have told Wokingham Borough Council that the Thames Path National Trail, which is of international importance, should not be interfered with merely for a private event. The council must “have regard to the safety and convenience of alternative routes”, but the proposed alternative route is not a public highway and therefore users do not have the necessary protection. The only alternative highways are ones which result in people walking a considerable extra distance, or risking Remenham Lane which is longer and dangerous.
The council should say no to the closure and then the Festival would have to organise its activities so as to keep the Thames Path open at all times.