Wygate Park traffic calming build out – a response from LRSP

Below, is the email I sent to Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership based on residents’ concerns about the traffic calming build out on Wygate Park, between Mariette Way and the Hayfields.   Below this, is the response I have just received back from one of their highways engineersImage.   

From: Roger Gambba-Jones
Sent: 06 October 2013 16:33
To: Stayingalive
Subject: Wygate Park, Spalding – Traffic calming build out

Dear sir,

Sometime ago you were kind enough to review the safety of a traffic calming build out located on Wygate Park.  On that occasion the build out, at the Monks House Lane end of the link road known as Wygate Park, was considered to be safe – a decision I agree with.

Unfortunately, local drivers have recently raised concerns with me regarding the build out located at the other end of Wygate Park, between Mariette Way and The Hayfields.  My position on this build out and indeed all of the build outs, has always been the same; it’s not the build outs that are at fault, it’s the attitude of the drivers using the road.

Having done some research myself, using an in car safety camera, the build out referred to appears to be at the optimum position, as it requires drivers to be travelling at a slow speed that would allow them to stop safely at the give way line, should they see a vehicle approaching from the other direction.

Despite posting a number of images on my blog, these residents still see this build out as dangerous and claim that it is only a matter of time before there’s a head on collision.  To the best of my knowledge, there have been no RTCs, or injuries associated with this section of road, but their view remains the same.

Obviously, as the local district councillor, I feel duty bound to do my best to address the concerns of residents, even when I don’t agree with them.  Therefore, can you please advise me on the design philosophy behind this particular build out and its specific location on Wygate Park.

Assuming it has not been done recently, would it be possible for one of your officers to take a look at this build out, in action so to speak, to see if there is something needed in addition to the existing signage, in order to get drivers to negotiate it in a safer manner than many do currently.  Thank you for your assistance.

My best regards,

Councillor Roger Gambba-Jones, SHDC, Spalding Wygate ward 

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Dear Cllr Gambba-Jones

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the resident’s safety concerns at the build-out on Wygate Park.

I have spoken to a colleague within Highways Division South who oversees this area and, although I have not actually managed to visit the site as yet, I have taken a look at the location on Google Maps Streetview (images from 2009). We are both of a similar opinion to yourself. The build-out seems to be more than adequately visible, with the appropriate signing and road markings. There is good forward visibility through the feature as well, so that oncoming traffic has more than enough time to adjust their speed accordingly.

I have queried our accident database which has records of personal injury accidents dated back to 1985 and is correct to 31/07/2013. Within the proximity of this feature there has not been any injury accidents recorded; with the nearest injury occurring at The Hayfields junction.

From our stance, I would suggest that there is nothing wrong with the road design at this point and in light of recent directives from the Department of Transport to reduce sign “clutter” that any additional signing or markings would not be advised. If the problem persists and is down to driver behaviour where they may not be adhering to the give way control then I would suggest that there could be a possible enforcement issue for the local Police.

I am sorry I cannot help you further, but unfortunately you have assessed the situation very similarly to myself and without drastic measures to force drivers to comply there is not a great deal we could proposed without “over engineering” which would be less desirable for all.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you need to discuss this further.

Regards, Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership

 

 

Spalding Primary School expansion plan problems

Up to now I, along with my fellow ward councillor, have attempted to be as helpful as possible in respect of the county council’s attempts to increase primary education provision in Spalding. A s106 that gave LCC 1.5 hectares of land and £1.3m towards the provision of a brand new school, was due to terminate in 2013, meaning that the county would of been left with no means of increasing the education provision, other than by raiding its own rapidly diminishing coffers. Loss of these funds and the associated land would leave the county council with an ever increasing number of children to accommodate, but no money to do it with – hence our very qualifed support.

The county council have moved very quickly from the provision of a new school on the s106 land, to using the associated money to expand Spalding Primary School. The school already suffers from significant issues regarding traffic congestion and parking. My attempts to offer a radical solution to both the existing and the inevitable future parking and traffic problems have apparently not found favour with the county council. Also, having now seen the architect’s plans for the so called extension, my support for this plan is melting away faster than the latest fall of snow. Not only has the extension become a totally separate building, of virtually equal size to the main body of the existing school, the traffic and parking solutions being suggested are, in my opinion, nothing of the sort and will not offer any relief from the daily misery visited on residents.

Unfortunately, the county council is able to give itself planning permission for such schemes and given their remote and too often high-handed attitude to local issues, I am fearful that the residents concerns will be over-shadowed by ‘the greater needed’, or worse still, ‘the bigger picture’.

Lincolnshire County Council education department have gotten themselves in to this mess by failing to forward plan and build on the opportunity presented by having a large area of land available and a £1.3m pot of money. Had they started budgetting from the moment the planning application was approved, I am sure they would of had a significant pot of money to add to the index linked sum now about to become available to them. Instead, they have chosen to use only the s106 money to squeeze what is effectively a 210 place infant’s school, on to the same site as an already full to capacity junior school.

in an urban location, where many of the children would be taken to and from school by either public transport, or Shanks’s Pony, this type of over-development might be acceptable, because whilst the school might be very busy, the roads and streets around it would be little affected by the comings and goings of parents and children. Unfortunately for LCC, this situation does not apply at Spalding Primary School and a large number of children are transported there by private car, all of which must find space to manoeuvre and park in the streets around the school.

The combination of an enlarged school and inadequate traffic and parking solutions, means that residents will very likely have to endure even greater problems should these plans go ahead.
We have organised a public meeting at the school on 5th March at 7pm, so that the public can come along, hear more about the plans and most importantly have their say.

Shortfall of 450,000 primary school places

Figures have revealed that the English school system will need to provide more than 450,000 primary school places by September 2015. The LGA responded by calling for better forecasting methods for future demand to identify where the big increases are likely over five to 10 years.

This is particularly relevant for us in Spalding Wygate, given the county council’s proposal to extend extend Spalding Primary School. Shouldn’t the county council show more foresight and actually build the new school on Wygate Park rather than just extend an existing school that is already too big for its available parking area?

Opposition is awake, but not with it!

It’s seldom a good idea to offer your opponent any free publicity.  However when they make inaccurate, ill-informed and in one case, a statement that would be libellous if it were made about a individual and not the council, they must be challenged.

I don’t know the person in question and none of my comments are based on an opinion of him as a person.  They only relate to the glaring inaccuracies in his election leaflet and seek to challenge the vague promises he has made – these are detailed in the italics below, with my responses in bold text.

All of his typographical and grammatical errors have been retained, to ensure that I cannot be accused of changing or censoring his words.

“………. I am your Independent candidate for the Woolram Wygate Ward.” 

The name of the ward is Spalding Wygate!

“The next few years will see more housing constructed towards the end of Woolram Wygate / Monks House Lane and this has an opportunity for great things, I would work with the developer to ensure maximum community benefit.”

The new development will be taking place on land at the Monks House Lane end of Wygate Park, nowhere near Woolram Wygate.

Negotiations regarding community benefits such as a very large area of open space, a community centre, along with land and money for a new primary school, all took place back in 2001.

“In addition there are large sums of money coming into the council from housing developments and the power station. Previous sums which should have been used to transform Spalding have been used to support the general workings of the council.”

“This must stop— money claimed for Spalding should be spent on facilities for all effected by the development”.

There are NO ‘large sums’ of money coming in from housing development.  All the benefits to come from development will be within the area being developed i.e. community centre, play equipment, large public open space area.

The money to be paid by the power station once built, apart from £100,000 for Pinchbeck parish council, has been identified for specific purposes within Spalding.

It is illegal to spend a financial contribution from a developer on anything other than what was detailed in the legal agreement.

The underlined accusation is particularly disturbing.  Not only is it completely WRONG, it appears to make an unfounded accusation of fraud against the district council.

“Those of you near the railway will have noticed night works to prepare the track for freight. These have the potential to cause massive disruption to traffic and an obvious potential risk for emergency vehicle access. I would work with the train companies to ensure this disruption is kept to a minimum.”

Concerns regarding the impact on Spalding are the subject of long term and detailed discussions with both the rail operator and the county council.  We have also raised our concerns with central government, assisted by our local Conservative MP, Mr John Hayes.

“I believe that the council needs change in order to properly represent local views and not be influenced by party politics and government directives.”

Low levels of council tax and weekly refuse and recycling collections are both Conservative Party policies we are proud to promote in South Holland.

Government directives are the basis for almost everything local government does and cannot be ignored whatever the council’s political colour.

“With building land becoming so scarce the green belt between Pinchbeck and Spalding must be preserved.”

Building land is NOT scarce in South Holland and we have a more than ample supply as detailed in the South Holland Adopted Local Plan.

The land between Pinchbeck and Spalding is not designated as Green Belt, a term used to protect green areas around cities from urban sprawl.  In Lincolnshire we call it open countryside.

Parishing Spalding  “There has been talk for many years regarding this issue. I support any measure that gives people more say in their neighbourhood and believe the small initial additional cost would reap huge rewards”.

As well as the so called ‘small initial cost’ (potentially £25,000 to £50,000), setting up a town council for Spalding would require a large increase in the ANNUAL precept charged to the residents, in order to provide ongoing administration, staffing and accommodation for the town council. 

No hint is given as to what these ‘huge rewards’ will be.

“Parish councils can apply for grant and lottery funding for major projects which the council legally cannot.  In addition the new localism bill will allow parish councils to challenge for existing service, resulting in an overall cost saving and improved efficiency.”

“The potential savings would protect us all form additional council tax rises and ensure that all services were run at maximum efficiency”

The district council is NOT prohibited from applying for grant funding from appropriate sources and assists many local organisations in doing this.

Any town council wishing to take over a council service would have to increase its resources to manage that service properly.  Much of the cost would simply transfer from the district council tax to a town council tax. 

“Many of you have children at the pri­mary school, I would welcome any form of partnership working with the school board and governors to ensure it gets the help it deserves”

School board AND governors? Or does he actually mean the Board of Governors?  The primary school already controls its own budget.  Given that its other funding is provided by the County Council, what exactly is the help it deserves from the district council?

“Ensuring the Green space between Pinchbeck and Spalding”

Ensuring it’s what?  This area is already protected by the development boundaries detailed in the South Holland Local Plan.

“Work with train operators to ensure minimal disruption to the level crossing”.

The train operators do not suffer any ‘disruption to the level crossing’.  It is the traffic crossing the level crossing that is disrupted when the gates are closed to allow a train to pass.  We are actively working with the county council to seek a long term solution to the planned increase in rail traffic through Spalding.