More flood warnings

Constant updates are now unnecessary. This is a national story.

The Thames in summer, winter, hot sun, rain or snow is exciting and worth a walk. But this is a rare period (it may be more than a week) when walking is not sensible even if possible.

There is a severe flood warning on the River Thames from Eynsham Lock to Day’s Lock near Dorchester-on-Thames. The towpath is covered around Oxford and Abingdon.

However there is serious flooding upstream at Kelmscot. Water is rising at Newbridge whilst inland to the north Standlake residents are fighting the rising River Windrush which flows into the Thames at Newbridge.

There is now a fear of craft being ripped from moorings.

There are flood warnings as far east as Hampton Court and these may be upgraded.

Flood fears

This may not be a good time to be walking the Thames Path as there are numerous reports of flooding and public transport is disrupted.

A severe flood warning has been issued by the Environment Agency in the Oxford area between Kennington and upstream Eynsham.

There are also 17 flood warnings from as far east as Teddington. Tributaries in the Upper Thames are reported to be at flood level which means that the River Thames is likely to see further flooding.

Two roads in Oxford were closed this morning.

Walkers should remember that swimming can be dangerous in fast moving water and the Thames in flood can be very dangerous.

At Maidenhead water is being diverted into the recently dug Jubilee River which rejoins the Thames opposite Windsor’s Home Park.

Henley towpath closed ‘for a week`

The towpath opposite Henley has been closed without notice. There is no diversion notice and walkers face a confusing situation.

High barriers were erected early on Monday although Henley Festival had only obtained permission for closure from 5.45 tomorrow Wednesday 11 July.

Henley Festival has consent, under section 16A of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, to close the path during the evening on Wednesday to Saturday this week and 11.15am to 3.30pm on Saturday.

The Open Spaces Society’s local activist David Parry has called for the towpath to be opened immediately.

“The Festival obtained consent from the Government Office South East for a temporary closure order for the path during the performances over five days, starting at 17.45 pm on Wednesday 11 July” reports David. “However, the consent was conditional upon Wokingham District Council, the highway authority, ensuring ‘that the footpath is not obstructed and public safety is not endangered by construction activities when the footpath is open outside the periods of closure imposed by the order’.

“This condition was imposed because of our strong complaint last year when the path was illegally blocked for two extra days during the construction period. But Wokingham Council has breached the condition because the path has, once again, been obstructed during the construction period”, David continues.

“The Festival knew full well that it had no consent to block the path before 15.45 pm on Wednesday 11 July this year, but it pig-headedly went ahead regardless and, by 7.30 am on Monday 9 July, the path was obstructed by a wire fence, vehicles and notices telling people to keep out.

‘When we complained to the council, it immediately made an emergency order to close the path on grounds of health and safety. But such orders should only be made when there is a genuine emergency and they normally require a notice to be published seven days ahead. The Festival has known for many months that it planned to carry out construction work here, but made no arrangements for protecting the path and its users. Instead it expects the public to walk an unsightly metal gangway between the metal fences, rather than the lovely route beside the river.

“And Wokingham District Council, which has a duty to assert and protect the rights of the public on public paths, has connived in this malpractice.

“Since the council and the Festival have breached the conditions in the closure order, the Government Office should declare that order null and void. Deplorably, it refuses to do so.

“In blocking the path, the Festival is putting its fine reputation at risk. Its arrogant disrespect of public rights is a self-inflicted slur.”

David adds: “The Open Spaces Society strongly urges it to reopen this much-used path without delay, and only to close it during the periods for which it had authority.”