On the afternoon of Tuesday 13 December, a vehicle collided with the premises of Snippit’s Barbers at the top (south) end of Hungerford High Street with such force that serious structural damage was caused to several properties and the gas mains.
Video footage from a doorbell camera opposite shows how lucky it was that pedestrians were not hurt and the full impact of the collision on the property.
As a result, the residents had to be evacuated and on the advice of West Berkshire Council’s Building Control team and in the interests of public safety the northbound side of the High Street remains closed along the affected section with a traffic-light controlled contra-flow. On 4 January, West Berkshire Council announced that the traffic lights are expected to remain for up to nine months until the repair work of the buildings is completed.
“The impact of this accident is shocking,” says Hungerford Mayor Helen Simpson. “Our thoughts are with the residents who had to be evacuated just before Christmas.”
This is by no means the first such traffic incident on the High Street. The matter was discussed at the Hungerford Town Council Meeting on Tuesday 3 January and the aim was discussed to create a policy with West Berkshire Council covering traffic and road-safety across the whole town. In the meantime residents concerned about speeding are urged to respond to the survey below.
Liz and Angie from Snippit’s thank everyone for the overwhelming support they have received since the collision which was terrifying for Liz who was in the salon at the time, waiting for a client to arrive. They have been very kindly supported by their bookkeeper Jon Shatford who offered them temporary office space and they have generously been offered workspace at Layers Hair Design in the courtyard behind Hungerford Bookshop. It looks like they will be working out of Layers for at least the next six months. They can still be contacted on their landline 01488 680692 which is being diverted to a mobile.
West Berkshire Council response
Penny Post contacted West Berkshire’s Highways team on 15 December about the incident. “Building Control colleagues are in constant contact with the structural engineers,” Service Director Jon Winstanley told us, “and we are hopeful to have some clarity of the initial measures that can be taken to make the buildings safe soon. We can then look at safely reopening the road. Clearly we would like to open the road as soon as we can, but safety of the travelling public has to be our priority. I would like to thank the residents and businesses of Hungerford for their patience.”
On 16 December 2022, West Berkshire Council issued the following statement: “The High Street in Hungerford will have a single carriageway open from around 7pm after remedial works could be arranged sooner than expected. Traffic lights are currently in place between Park Street and Atherton Crescent and will remain until it is safe to open both carriageways. Further work is required before an assessment can be made on when the road can be completely opened. We’d like to thank the local community for their patience whilst this situation is resolved.”
Action you can take
West Berkshire Council is currently conducting a town-centre strategy for Hungerford. More information can be found in this separate post. The consultation will remain open until midnight on Sunday 9 January 2023 – if you are concerned about any aspect of traffic speeds or road safety in the town, please take part in the consultation and make your points known. If you have already replied to it, you should be able to re-visit your submission and edit it.
In addition, Hungerford Town Council has agreed to look at the issue as a matter of urgency and to work with West Berkshire Council to effect some positive change. Please contact Hungerford Town Council if you feel you might have anything to contribute to this process.