20 mph speed limit needed on our residential streets

Living Streets is a national charity that campaigns to make our streets and roads safer places for us all to use. Their strap line is, ‘putting people first’ and they have just launched a national campaign to encourage more councils to introduce a 20 mph limit in residential areas.

This is something I have been trying to get the county council to consider for sometime now and the more public support there is, the more likely it is LCC will give it some serious thought. If you would like to make the streets safer for our children, please go to the Living Streets website and take part in their ‘Show You Love 20mph’ campaign.

There would also be a further benefit to making the 20mph speed limit legally enforceable in Lincolnshire. Many of our schools have what is currently only an advisory 20mph speed limit on the street outside of them. This advisory status means that even when a driver is spotted exceeding it, the most they will currently get from the police is a ticking off and advice on being a more responsible and considerate driver.

Halt attacks or lose our support, council leaders warn No 10

Copied from Daily Telegraph 23 Jan 2012
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
By Robert Winnett, Political Editor
MORE than 30 Conservative council leaders [Including Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council] have written a private letter to David Cameron warning that grassroots support for his re-election bid will be withdrawn unless ministers stop attacking local government.
They warn of anger about the “nature and tone of constant criticisms” directed at councils and urge the Prime Minister to stop “patronising language” being used to attack those “who work extraordinary long hours for our communities”.
The four-page letter sent to the Prime Minister, which has been leaked to The Telegraph, warns: “It is important that you understand how disappointed and even angry local activists are and how many might not be there when we need them as electoral foot soldiers.”
Those who have signed the letter include the Conservative leaders of Derbyshire, Warwickshire, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and Durham county councils. In total, 31 senior local councillors, mostly council leaders, have signed the document.
Ministers have become increasingly angered by the resistance of many local councils, including those run by Conservatives, to government cuts and calls for restraint on pay and pensions.
Senior figures including Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, and Grant Shapps, the Conservative chairman, have made outspoken attacks over the cavalier use of taxpayers’ money by some local authorities.
Many authorities are preparing to defy central government by increasing council tax bills.
Some are suspected of attempting to blame ministers for the expected fall-out in forthcoming local elections.
In the letter to Mr Cameron, the council leaders say: “We believe it is essential to bring to your attention our concerns regarding some government policy affecting local government, the rhetoric that accompanies it and the effect it is having on our people.
“Importantly, it is not only the substance of such policy but also the nature and tone of constant criticisms of their work by Conservative ministers that is most worrying.”
They add: “To be clear, we are open to genuine feedback where it can be evidenced that we have fallen short in some way. Our issue is with ill-informed and anecdote-based general criticism and sometimes highly inaccurate personal attacks.”
The council leaders express particular anger at attacks on the pension arrangements of councillors and complain, “there seems little recognition of the efforts of our members”.
“By contrast, members of parliament (including those with other employment), police and crime commissioners and mayors are accorded a status worthy of pensions. This position was not helped by criticisms of the unanimous recommendations of the all-party select committee on local government on Radio 4’s Today programme by the party chairman which appeared to compare council leaders to volunteers running scout troops.”
The leaders also express dismay over the “apparent constant criticism” of local government for hindering economic growth. They say: “Sometimes the criticisms even seem designed to deflect criticism from Whitehall departments.”
The council leaders – who also include the Conservative heads of Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Kent, West and East Sussex councils – say they have written to Mr Cameron to urge him to take action.
“We are also worried in the widest context about the impact for the party of any continued weakening in the relationship between the parliamentary leadership and the party’s active local members.”

Wind Farm Noise does damage

Wind farm noise does harm sleep and health, say scientists
Wind farm noise causes “clear and significant” damage to people’s sleep and mental health, according to the first full peer-reviewed scientific study of the problem.

Research has proved there windfarms can have a direct impact on sleep and mental health (GETTY)

By Andrew Gilligan Daily Telegraph
Saturday 3rd November 2012

American and British researchers compared two groups of residents in the US state of Maine. One group lived within a mile of a wind farm and the second group did not.
Both sets of people were demographically and socially similar, but the researchers found major differences in the quality of sleep the two groups enjoyed.
The findings provide the clearest evidence yet to support long-standing complaints from people living near turbines that the sound from their rotating blades disrupts sleep patterns and causes stress-related conditions.
The study will be used by critics of wind power to argue against new turbines being built near homes and for existing ones to be switched off or have their speed reduced, when strong winds cause their noise to increase.
The researchers used two standard scientific scales, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, which measures the quality of night-time sleep, and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, which measures how sleepy people feel when they are awake.
“Participants living near industrial wind turbines had worse sleep, as evidenced by significantly greater mean PSQI and ESS scores,” the researchers, Michael Nissenbaum, Jeffery Aramini and Chris Hanning, found.
“There were clear and significant dose-response relationships, with the effect diminishing with increasing log-distance from turbines.”
The researchers also tracked respondents’ “mental component scores” and found a “significant” link – probably caused by poor-quality sleep – between wind turbines and poorer mental health.
More than a quarter of participants in the group living near the turbines said they had been medically diagnosed with depression or anxiety since the wind farm started. None of the participants in the group further away reported such problems.
Each person was also asked if they had been prescribed sleeping pills. More than a quarter of those living near the wind farm said they had. Less than a tenth of those living further away had been prescribed sleeping pills.
According to the researchers, the study, in the journal Noise and Health, is the first to show clear relationships between wind farms and “important clinical indicators of health, including sleep quality, daytime sleepiness and mental health”.
Unlike some common forms of sleep-disturbing noise, such as roads, wind turbine noise varies dramatically, depending on the wind direction and speed. Unlike other forms of variable noise, however, such as railways and aircraft, it can continue for very long
periods at a time. The nature of the noise — a rhythmic beating or swooshing of the blades — is also disturbing. UK planning guidance allows a night-time noise level from wind farms of 42 decibels – equivalent to the hum made by a fridge.
This means that turbines cannot be built less than 380-550 yards from human habitation, with the exact distance depending on the terrain and the size of the turbines.
However, as local concern about wind farm noise grows, many councils are now drawing up far wider cordons. Wiltshire, for instance, has recently voted to adopt minimum distances of between 0.6 to 1.8 miles, depending on the size of the turbines.
Dr Lee Moroney, director of planning at the Renewable Energy Foundation, said: “The UK noise limits were drawn up 16 years ago, when wind turbines were less than half the current size. Worse still, the guidelines permit turbines to be built so close to houses that wind turbine noise will not infrequently be clearly audible indoors at night time, so sleep impacts and associated health effects are almost inevitable.
“This situation is obviously unacceptable and creating a lot of angry neighbours, but the industry and government response is slow and very reluctant. Ministers need to light a fire under their civil servants.”
The research will add to the growing pressure on the wind farm industry, which was attacked last week by the junior energy minister, John Hayes, for the way in which turbines have been “peppered around the country without due regard for the interests of the local community or their wishes”. Saying “enough is enough”, Mr Hayes appeared to support a moratorium on new developments beyond those already in the pipeline.
He was slapped down by his Lib Dem boss, Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, but is unlikely to have made his remarks without some kind of nod from the top of Government. George Osborne, the Chancellor, is known to be increasingly sceptical about the effectiveness of wind power, which is heavily subsidised but delivers relatively little reduction in carbon dioxide.
Wind farms generate about a quarter of their theoretical capacity because the wind does not always blow at the required speeds. Earlier this year, more than 100 Tory MPs urged David Cameron to block the further expansion of wind power.
Whatever the Government decides, however, may not matter.
The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that the EU will shortly begin work on a new directive which may impose a binding target for further renewable energy, mostly wind, on the UK. There is already a target, which is also Government policy, that 20 per cent of energy should come from renewables by 2020.
But Brussels is considering imposing an even higher mandatory target to be met over the following decade, according to Gunther Oettinger, the EU energy commissioner. “I want an interesting discussion on binding targets for renewables by 2030,” he said earlier this year.
Two weeks ago, a senior member of his staff, Jasmin Battista, said that Mr Oettinger was “open to” forced targets, though no decision had been made.
The European Parliament has voted for mandatory increases in renewables by 2030 and Mr Davey has also said he favours them. The issue will be considered at a European Council of Ministers meeting next month.
Politics
© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2012

Too many drivers speeding where we live

Below is the detailed report from Lincs Road Safety Partnership, following the traffic speed surveys I requested on Wygate Park and Park Road in Spalding. Although the numbers of speeding vehicles is relatively low compared to the overall numbers checked, it’s still extremely disappointing to see the numbers in the hundreds. R U 1 of these?

I now have the results of the Archer survey carried out on Wygate Park and Park Rd at Spalding.

In relation to Wygate Park a survey was carried out on Wygate Park near the junction with Law Court monitoring traffic flow in both directions.

Over a five day period a total of 13,713 vehicles were checked 9,992 of these vehicles were travelling towards the town centre. Of vehicles travelling towards the town centre 442 vehicles (4.4%) were travelling at a speed where a speed awareness course would be an appropriate course of action. 189 vehicles (1.9%) were found to be travelling at a speed where prosecution would be an appropriate course of action.

Vehicles travelling towards the A151 21 vehicles ( 3.4%) were travelling at a speed where a speed awareness course would be an appropriate course of action. 25 vehicles (0.6%) were found to be travelling where prosecution would be an appropriate course of action.

In relation to Park Rd the survey was carried outside 214, Park Rd monitoring traffic flow in both directions. Over a five day period a total of 26,095 were checked 10,479 were travelling towards Spalding town centre and 15,616 travelling towards Pinchbeck Rd.

Vehicles travelling towards the town centre 107 (6.1%) were travelling at a speed where a speed awareness course would be an appropriate course of action. 36 vehicles (2.1%) were found to be travelling at a speed where prosecution would have been an appropriate course of action.

Vehicles travelling towards Pinchbeck Rd 286(11.0%) were travelling at a speed where a speed awareness course would be an appropriate course of action. 189 vehicles (7.1%) were travelling at a speed where a prosecution would be an appropriate course of action.

I realise the survey results may not support your impression of vehicles speed using these roads indicated by your correspondence. However, I deal with many complaints relating to speeding and I find ‘Speeding’ is both a very emotive and perceptive subject. To one person speeding may simply mean exceeding a given speed limit,when to another speeding may mean travelling too fast for the conditions whilst staying within the speed limit.

An indication of whether drivers are using a road too fast for conditions is its collision history. I have checked the collision database of all collisions recorded on Wygate Park and Park Rd with eight slight injury collisions on Park Rd and two slight injury collisions for the last three years and out of the ten slight injury collisions none can be attributed to speed.

The aim of the Lincolnshire Road Safety is to try and reduce the amount of fatalities which is distressful for those involved, however caused in the county but we put our resources into the area’s that have high collision figures and a high recorded data in relation to drivers ignoring the speed limit for the road their on. With the ultimate aim to make the roads safer in the whole county.

I will pass on the results of the survey to the local neighbourhood policing team for them to take any action that they feel is necessary during the the course of their patrol.

Could a town council be fit for purpose AND affordable?

Some very pertinent comments and observations on the subject of a town council for Spalding, but there is a need to always keep in mind the cost of this. Are the people of Spalding prepared to see the charge of £23, currently identified as the Spalding Special Expenses, double, just for the pleasure of saying, ‘we have a town council’?

I say double, because even though the SSE stands at £209,000 and doubling it would take it to £418,000, which seems excessive, one has to use a worse case scenario, in order not to get a very nasty shock once any town council is established. I would anticipate the need to employ at least three full time staff for a town the size of Spalding. Given that one of our towns has just employed a new parish clerk at a cost of some £27k, to which they will need to add 20% at least, to cover employment costs, it doesn’t take much to see that the numbers roll up very quickly.

I also have a suspicion that, once any town council was in place, SHDC non-Spalding members would soon start to identified items of Spalding based expenditure, that they felt should be on the town council’s books and not on South Holland District Council’s.

Don’t get me wrong, when I first joined the district council, I was amazed to find that Spalding was unparished and that the district council controlled everything via the SSE. As I was in the privileged position of being the chairman of the newly resurrected STF, I did ask for the possibility of a town council to be explored. Even back then, a figure of £40k had been spoken of previously. This on a SSE, at the time, of approximately £85k. This figure was however questioned by some members, who believed that SHDC had manufactured that number as a scare tactic, in order to kill off the process. This at a time when the council was controlled by independents – I’ll leave it at that.

Recently, I did look at this issue again and even wrote to several town councils in the area, asking if they could give me some idea of their running costs. Unsurprisingly, none of them wrote back – parish and town councils have a reputation for being less than transparent in such matters. One council I did look at more closely, in order to draw some parallels, was Sleaford. According to their master plan, Sleaford has a population of around 17000, approximately half that of Spalding – Sleaford Town Council has a staff of SIX and 17 elected members. I don’t know how much SHDC would wish to charge a town council for office space, but I do know that it would not be free.

Wimbledon is showing on the TV as I type this, so I could be tempted to claim game, set and match on this question, simply based on affordability. However, things are never that simple. One has to accept that the will of the people could well outweigh purely financial considerations, especially if the right question is asked of them.

Instead of looking for conventional solutions to this perceived democratic deficit and given the financial depression most taxpayers find themselves faced with, is there another way to achieve the desired outcome? The Localism Bill introduced a right to challenge, perhaps a group of local people should start looking at ways of using this as a cost effective way of addressing this issue, in part at least.

South Holland a dangerous place for young drivers

Lincolnshire roads are some of the most dangerous for young drivers, with the roads in South Holland apparently the most dangerous of them all.

I’ve no doubt people of a certain age – mine – will be making the same comments about this story as they always do, it’s not the roads, it’s the drivers! That is of course true for the most part. I have yet to hear of a road actively injuring, or killing a driver, passively yes, but actively no, that requires the intervention of a bad, but not necessarily young, driver.

Watching a news item on Look North tonight on the subject of our dangerous roads, I saw them teaching some young people to control a car on a skid pan, with the kids involved very much enjoying the experience. I don’t wish to be a killjoy, but the purpose of the exercise was supposedly education not enjoyment. Given the basis for the news story, slipping and sliding around the relatively safe environment of a skid pan, doesn’t wasn’t even educating the kids in the right way.

I won’t be the first to point out that it isn’t the mechanics of driving the car that’s the problem for young drivers, many pass their test first time and with a minimum of professional lessons – the biggest problem with young drivers is their attitude. This could be described as over-confidence, arrogance, bravado, showing-off in fact, all of these and more. Bad attitude from young drivers is on display nearly everyday of the year and also on many summer nights, in Sainsbury’s car park, let alone out on our public roads. Until we tackle this aspect of young driver training, we will continue to see hundreds of young lives damaged and wasted on the roads of the UK.

Time for Co-op to show leadership on environment

Yet again I find myself both frustrated and angered by the behaviour of some of my neighbours in and around Wygate Park.  As you will see from the photos below, a huge amount of alcohol related rubbish is being left in our public open spaces and much of it seems to originate from the Co-op shop in Clover Way.

I will be writing to the Co-op management to ask them to consider banning the use of free plastic bags and avoid the issuing of till receipts unless actually asked for by their customers.