Minutes of Extraordinary Parish Council 6th November 2013

Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Parish Council

Held in the John Lampon Hall on 6th November 2013 at 7.30p.m.

Chair John Gili-Ross
Parish Councillors Present Jenny Church, Murray Harlow, Rosemary James, Andrew Savage, David Short, Harry Stone, Bob Tyrrell, Phil Walby, Rachel Young
Parish Clerk Val Walsom
Borough Councillors Councillor Harrington, Councillor Willetts
Present: Brian Butcher
13 residents of New Church Road
1 resident of Church Close

Traffic Safety Plan

Receive Apologies

Apologies were received from Essex County Councillor Anne Brown and Chris Stevenson.  Chris Stevenson advised that had he attended the meeting he would have had to immediately declare an interest due to his work interests including directing the Local Highway Panels and administering their organisation; overseeing the Local Highway Panel budgets and programme; advising the Cabinet Member; being a senior employee of the Highways Department.  As such he would be unable to enter into any aspect of the debate.

John Gili-Ross welcomed all those present to discuss the revised Traffic Safety Plan before the Parish Council voted on accepting the plan.

Harry Stone made the following opening statement:

I Hope you have all seen a copy of the proposed plan from the Parish Council Working Party so I do not intend to go through each point in detail but will happily try to answer questions later.

As a village we are fortunate to have a successful school and a thriving shop among other valuable assets.  Unfortunately, this brings more traffic to the village, especially at key times, and with it drivers who do not always act responsibly or sensibly, particularly over parking. This creates safety problems, sometimes for drivers themselves, and certainly for pedestrians and in particular our children.

This plan is about recognising and trying to manage those problems before something serious happens.  The heart of it is to try to redress the balance in favour of pedestrians.  This is a chicken and egg situation to make journeys to school safer, encourage more to walk to reduce the number of cars and so reduce the problems.

No one measure alone will achieve this and so this plan is in 4 parts.

We do not believe that drivers will park and behave responsibly without guidance and restrictions.  I know it is said that yellow lines will be ignored and so that is why the North Essex Parking Partnership has to approve these plans (this could take at least 3 months) and then enforce them.  It is up to the Parish and Borough Councillors to see that it happens.

Surely for pedestrians to cross each end of New Church Road without the obstruction of cars will be safer.  At the Lexden Road end we need to make it more enticing to walk from the Orpen Hall car park.

Surely being able to cross the junctions with School Lane and Church Close without weaving through parked cars must be safer for our children on the way to school.

Surely on the exit from the Mumford Close footpath having a clear view down the road will make it safer to cross.

The second part of the plan is about raising awareness.  Drivers need to think more carefully about the potential dangers in the vicinity of a school.  Something needs to be different and all research suggests that some sort of change, be it road surface or signage, is needed to do that.  Hence the suggestion that a strip across the road about 10 metres in will make a statement which defines the area.  Then to emphasise this further a 20mph speed limit (not necessarily because drivers at school time are speeding) will further raise awareness. This is something not yet approved and funded by the Local Highways Panel and so is a measure to apply for but we are more likely to gain approval if the other measures are already in place.

Thirdly we come to the part the school might play in making this plan work.  The school has already signalled its agreement with the plan.  Simultaneously with the above measures coming into place the school needs to launch a campaign with pupils and parents to change behaviour. (You might ask ‘Why not before?’ – attempts have been made but they will not impact without the physical measures)

A new look at the Travel Plan needs to encourage more to walk or cycle.  A new appraisal of staff parking arrangements is needed. A way to promote better use of existing spaces such as at the Orpen Hall should be part of the campaign.  The hope is that this will be spearheaded by a joint working group involving school, Parish Council and local residents.

Finally the Parish Council has a pivotal role to play as a catalyst to ensure the plan works.  Enforcement has already been mentioned.  Also we will need to work with the school to reduce unnecessary use of cars and to promote walking and cycling. Ensuring that existing drop off areas at the Treble Tile and Orpen Hall are used more fully and effectively with measures to make walking from these points as safe and easy as possible (a path has already been established at the edge of Poors Land).

The Working Party believes that taken together these measures will have an impact.  This will be closely monitored and then, if necessary.  The Parish Council will be prepared to consider what other options are needed to ensure the desired effect.

For all these reasons I ask the Parish Council to approve this plan.  Parts 1 and 2 are delivered by Essex Highways through the Local Highways Panel.  The process which involves formal publication of notices has to start now.  Funds have been allocated but already deadlines have been passed although an extension until this meeting has been agreed.  After this funding will be withdrawn.

I remind you that through the responses to the Neighbourhood Plan there is considerable support for something to be done about the village traffic problems.

No doubt we will hear residents’ views in a moment but I understand that at a recent meeting a vote was taken and there was general support for the measures in Part 1 and the idea of a speed limit.  Parts 3 and 4 are very much ongoing and here we are really seeking the Parish Council approval for further dialogue with residents, school and all other interested parties.

Questions from the floor:

Q.  What measures are being put in place to stop cars parking in different parts of the village if they are unable to park along New Church Road?

A. We will try to reduce the use of cars with help from the school and parents.  There are a lot of cars which don’t need to be there but there are also some from families living outside the village who do need to drive to school.  HS believes that Church Close will not be too affected.  There will be an ongoing process to monitor the impact.  A scheme for priority parking for people who need to use their cars could be introduced.  The situation in this village is not unique but we are one of the first to try to do something about it.

Q. New Church Road has barely changed at all and also borders on ancient heath land.  To change the appearance is the wrong way to go about rectifying the problems.  The time constraints are not giving time to explore other measures with less impact.  Voting for this scheme is voting for a permanent and wrong scheme.

A.  The Parish Council has relied on professionals – Essex Highways, for advice.  Softer measures do exist but the Parish Council believes they would not work in this area.

Q. The residents would welcome the measures if they would make the children safe.  At a meeting the previous week the residents did not back the Plan as it exists.  The measures will push problems elsewhere.  No survey has been carried out so why should the residents accept the scheme.  A campaign is needed involving the school.  Some parents have already said that they will ignore yellow lines.  Yellow lines should be the last measure to be put in place after other options have been tried.

A.  The school needs to step up and be involved.  The school may not be able to influence the parents.  People will abuse yellow lines but we need to look at measures to influence the parents.  The problem is not just the school; it is also around the Co-op and Scout Hut.

Q.  Why don’t the Trustees consider a drop off point on Poors Land?

A. The Trustees have to follow the objective of the Trust.  The Trustees must concern themselves with that and make decisions on the use of the land accordingly.  We need to make the best use of the facilities we have i.e. the Orpen Hall Car Park.

Q.  Why can’t there be restricted parking zones.  The congestion is largely due to traffic trying to move both ways with parked cars restricting the movement.  Why can’t there be a one way system from School Lane to Lexden Road and a 20mph limit.

A.  This has been considered.  However, Essex Highways has advised that a one way system would likely lead to an increase in speed in addition the cost of this would not be within the budget.  A voluntary one way system could be trialled, encouraged by the school.  This may however have an impact on street residents.

Q.  When the Traffic Safety Plan was first started it was dealt with as one problem but it is actually 6 or 7 problems including the Co-op.  Parking on Colchester Road would cause a problem.

A.  Parking on Colchester Road would slow traffic down.  It would be nice to see a footpath on the Poors Land side of Colchester Road.

Q.  Is there evidence/statistics to support the plan.  The Parish Council has not done enough research.

A.  Each year the school demographic is different.  Numerous visual and photographic evidence has been obtained.  The plan has been discussed in various forms with ECC Highways for more than two years.  The dangers to pedestrians are clearly apparent for all to see.

Following the question and answer session it was proposed by Harry Stone and seconded by Rosemary James to adopt the revised Traffic Safety Plan with no amendments.

8 members of the Parish Council voted for the Proposal – Jenny Church, Murray Harlow, Rosemary James, Andrew Savage, David Short, Harry Stone, Phil Walby and Rachel Young

Bob Tyrrell voted against the Proposal.

The meeting closed at 8.25p.m.

Signed:Position on Parish Council: Date:


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