Kier and their lack of attention to detail

As a member of the district council’s planning committee you get used to hearing the people’s concerns and sometimes even their anger about proposed new development. 

However, once the public concern has died down, most if not all of those issues resolved and the development built, there can be details that come back to bite you.

The pictures below show such minor details within much larger areas of development at Wygate Park.

The first 3 photos are shocking, both visually and potentially, literally.  How anybody could think it made sense to place a utility box, with a mains electrical power feed in the direct path of vehicles entering and leaving a heavily used residential car park, escapes me. 

Having done so, how can they then consider that two cheap wooden planted tubs, already falling apart, are an adequate form of protection against moving vehicles weighing up to 3000kgs?

The second set of photos are of an issue that I thought I’d already addressed, when I found the original bollard lying on the ground, due to the bodge job that had been carried out installing it the first time – how long did they expect 4 long wood screws in plastic plugs normally used in brickwork to last in Tarmac?.  With the help of the our planning enforcement officer, I got the bollard refitted with bolts instead of the wood screws used originally – who do these people employ?  Even then the refit was poorly done, but at least it was more secure than the original amateur job.

Imagine my shock then when I visited the site again sometime later, only to find that the bollard had now disappeared completely.  It appears to have been displaced in favour of new Tarmac and a services cover.  The location still has plenty of space for a correctly positioned bollard, using a nearby lamp post and low wooden fencing to block off the path that would otherwise allow vehicles to pass through easily.

The first photo in the second set show where the bollard is now, notice anything?  That’s right, it’s now in a completely useless position.  It now serves no purpose whatsoever, because vehicles can drive around it with ease, using the Tarmac area serving the properties to the left and drive over the gravel strip as shown by the white tyre marks in the second photo and continue on along the nice new Tarmac footway.

I had considered approaching the site manager directly rather than via our planning enforcement officer about both these issues.  I’ve already tried this with the utility box and planters. This has been met with a deafening silence and I was only asking for the name and contact details of somebody within Kier management.

Ignoring these seemingly minor issues, prior to new development being handed over to the council – the formal term is adopted – stores up problems for the future.  The utility box is of course the dangerous one; I don’t even know what it does, but if it gets hit and badly damaged, the residents will expect somebody’s help getting things sorted out and one things for sure, it won’t be Kier doing it, especially if the car involved is a hit and run.

The useless drive around bollard will very definitely end up in the district council’s complaints box.  Those living beyond the far side of Minsmere Close and wanting to get to and from the school in a hurry, are soon going to starting using this footway as a rat run.  This will be followed by residents in properties along that footway becoming justifiably very unhappy and complaining to the council and their local councillors.  This means that, unless this ridiculous situation is resolved now, local council taxpayer will be footing the bill to fix it instead of the developers.

Therefore, given the silence to date on the utility box, I’m using this unsubtle approach and going public (not that I’ve really got much public to go public with), to see if that gets me anywhere.

Location – access to residential parking court
Utility box logo and DANGER warning 
One of the disintegrating planters ‘protecting’ the box
The new and useless bollard (Spalding Academy School in distance)
Tyre tracks of those already using the shortcut
Location where the bollard was and should still be installed

Then just as I was about to post this article, what should appear in today’s Daily Telegraph. Nothing but empty promises in my opinion when they are coining it in as in the case of Persimmon. Until we have a much larger pool of developers seeking our business and greater range of housing for buyers to choose from, these sharks will keep knocking out their photo-copied designs and building them as cheaply as possible.


Daily Telegraph 4 March 2019

Update

I’m very please to be able to offer an update to this sorry tale, having now been able to make contact with somebody at the right level. However, the answer I received could so easily have come from the site manager had he bothered to respond.

The electrical box and its associated crumbling planters, are apparently remnants from the old sale office that was in that location as the site was being developed out and should have been removed at the same time as the sales office.

The lonely and ineffective bollard is another piece of unfinished business by the onsite team. This one is about the installing of something called a knee rail. This would be a low level fence along the length of the narrow graveled strip to the left and designed to prevent vehicles crossing over.

As well as firing blanks this time, he’s also got his eyes shut!

 

Independent election candidate, had his eyes closed when he came up with this.

Independent election candidate, had his eyes closed when he came up with this.

Below is the text of a letter I have sent to The Lincs Freepress / Spalding Guardian, in response to an extraordinary letter sent by one of my independent opponents.  You can take a look at what he’s got to say for himself here:  http://www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/news/latest-news/politics-a-community-is-built-by-giving-people-choices-1-6696891

I have to say, I couldn’t buy this sort of publicity, well I could, but the price would be a bit steep and probably break the rules on election expenses!   As mentioned in my previous post about the independents election leaflets, this candidate has a personal axe to grind with me on this issue.

Looking at the impressive list of things he’s inserted himself into within the district, he clearly feels robbed of the opportunity to add management of the Wygate Park community centre to it.  Far be it from me to suggest that he was angling for the job of centre manager, given his current employment status, but there must be more to his anger, than a simple difference of opinion with me.

 

Choice – exactly what’s on the table

In response to the letter about the community survey currently underway in Wygate Park, Spalding.  Clearly, the writer has allowed emotion to cloud his ‘view’ and has failed to read the covering flyer, or even the survey form itself.

Both of these documents refer to ‘a community facility’ not a building, although that is indeed an option.  The documents were drafted and approved by Community Lincs and South Holland District Council respectively, not by me.  As a courtesy, I was supplied with a draft copy of these documents, but I had no involvement in their drafting.  I also supplied maps of the area and lists of roads within a 10 minute walk time of the potential site for any facility.  On behalf of the highly professional officers from both organisations, I believe the writer owes them a public apology, for questioning their integrity, impartiality and professionalism.

Despite his previous profession, the writer continues to ignore the legal framework that made both the land and the financial contribution available in the first place.  A legal agreement, a section 106, was signed between South Holland DC and Allison Homes, the original developer.  Allison Homes agreed to build a community centre, on part of the public open space, adjacent to what is now the Wygate Academy School – nothing else. A new legal agreement would be needed to use the actual money for anything else; something that Kier, the new developer, can choose not to do.

The steering group was formed in the hope that the community would, either agree to seeing the proposed building managed by South Holland Community Church, for and on behalf of the community, or decide to form their own community group, to take on the task.

For various reasons, the first option is now off of the table, in part at least, because of the written hostility of the letter writer in emails he circulated.  I also believe that this aggression played a significant role in reducing the group’s membership.

The second option is still available to anybody, including the writer, wishing to take up the challenge.  The results of the community survey will become valuable evidence for any group when bidding for the additional grant funding, essential to making the project a success.

Finally, if you live in Wygate Park and are one of the 1435 households to receive a survey, please take the time to read it carefully and make up your own mind as to whether, or not a building is the only choice available.

Once you’ve seen for yourself that it isn’t – so there’s no need to spoil your ballot paper on the 7th May  – please do complete the survey and leave it outside your front door for collection on 9th May.  There are also details about how to complete the survey online.

Flyer delivered to 1435 properties by Community Lincs.

Flyer delivered to 1435 properties by Community Lincs.

Independent candidates fire blanks

bazookaThe two independents candidates, standing against myself and Christine Lawton on 7th May in the district council elections, have delivered their first election leaflets.

As always, leaflets from the opposition are essential reading, if only to understand where they are coming from campaign wise. In the case of these two, there are few if any surprises. There are however some clear misunderstandings when it comes to what can and cannot be achieved as a district councillor, but given that they are new at this, it’s understandable. I am however, not so understanding as to allow them to pass without comment, this is after all politics and there’s an election to win.

I’ll deal with their suggested policies first, before dealing with the ever present irony that is the ‘Independent Group’, to which they have attached themselves.

These are from the first ‘independent’ candidate’s leaflet.

1. A temporary cut in business rates to encourage small businesses.

Setting the business rates is not a district council function and cannot be done. The best we can do, is offer discretionary relief to a limited range of activities, such as the only pub in a village, a small village shop, or a non-profit making social club venue.

2. Waste and recycling collections to stay weekly

This has been the Conservative group’s position since it took control in 1999 and this has not changed.   Neither can it change in the near future, as we accepted grant funding from central government on the basis of retaining weekly collections for at least 5 years and we’ve no intention of giving back the £1.7m received!

3. A really good garden waste collection to serve gardeners in the town.

You wouldn’t intentionally offer a really bad garden waste collection, would you?

Only in the town, what about everybody else? What about every other town come to that?   This independent candidate is beginning to think and sound like a parish councillor already.

We are already working on a paid for green waste collection. This needs a significant outlay in capital and a more detailed survey, to identify potential users, will be carried out soon.

4. Make our environment as litter free as we can …….not just in run up to election…

Can you call a campaign that has been running for nearly 9 months, an election ploy? I think not. Had central government confirmed the local government finance settlement at the normal time and not the eleventh hour and 59th minute, as they did, we would have been able to start the South Holland Pride campaign some 12 months ago. This was the plan, but we could only find enough funding to appoint a part time enforcement officer at that time.

5. Better community policing

Yet another area over which the district council has no control. Lincolnshire Police raise their own precept via the council tax. This year that was increased by 1.9% to £197.64 SHDC’s council tax take was reduced by 0.5% to £154.84 for a band D property.

6. Better value for money when looking at provision of services….

I’d love to comment on this one, but I haven’t got a clue what its referring to!

7. More thought to planning applications, so that they benefit the town and not just the applicant…..

This is another one that’s got me guessing at to its meaning, let alone its ambition. The planning system isn’t there as a way of getting goodies, from the people who apply for planning permission, unless those ‘goodies’ are essential to making the application acceptable in planning terms.

Moving on to the second ‘independent’.

This one makes some pledges which reflect some double standards and a clear misunderstanding of what the overall role of a district councillor is.

1. I will not have any hidden agendas

My personal experience says otherwise.

2. I will work with any councillor…………..acting in the best interests of Wygate Park and Spalding!

Just because the ward is called Spalding Wygate, doesn’t mean it just covers the Wygate Park area, where this candidate happens to live.

As well as being limited to half the ward, the horizon of this independent only stretches as far as the boundaries of Spalding it seems.

As a district councillor, your role, first and foremost, is to represent the interests of all South Holland residents, not just those who voted for you, or happen to live in the ward you represent. This applies even when a decision might have a negative impact in your ward.

Some of the issues this candidate will support.

3. Pride in South Holland. My answer to this claim is the same as for the other independent and our manifesto actually contains a commitment to continue the campaign.

4. Highways – poor state of some pavements. This is a county council function. You don’t need to be a district councillor to get these fixed. Just report them on line, I do so regularly.

5. Road safety – road markings. Again, a county council function, not the district.

I submitted a defect report on these makings over 12 months ago. The answer from highways was very clear. It is not their policy to maintain any form of road markings within residential estates, when those roads only serve residents and have no other purpose, as this would not be a good use of their limited budgets. The road marking in question were put there by the developer, during initial build and were never a requirement of the detailed plans approval, or of the highways adoption process.

6. Community – Support for events…………Nothing new here, as all Spalding councillors have made financial contributions to such events.

7. Traffic – Stating the blindingly obvious here.  Again, something only the county council can rectify. Spalding Town Forum are already extremely active in pressing for a solution.

8. Planning – local services must keep pace.  Nothing offered here, other than a statement of wishful thinking. The planning system has no powers to require developers to provide funding for local services as a matter of law. Everything we achieve, outside of the planning policy requirements, is done by active negotiation and persuasion.

9. Licensing policy changes – another piece of wishful thinking, without any consideration of the reality. Like planning, the licensing system is controlled by national laws and policies, that offer the district council little leeway when it comes to resisting the granting of new licenses.

Now turning back to the various claims made about being unfettered and un-whipped independents.

The back of both very similar looking leaflets, has the same heading and the same piece of text, ‘A message from Angela Newton……..Independent Councillor and Leader of South Holland the Independent Group.’ ……………….

So, having declared themselves as intending to be, ‘Independent Councillors’ (sic) and not tied to any Political Party (sic) (they do like their capital letters don’t they!), they willingly attach themselves to somebody stating that, they are actually the leader of a group of independents. Using the word group and independent in the same sentence is an oxymoron isn’t it?

Splitting hairs, you could argue that Angela Newton is not leading a recognised political party, but it is very clearly a group involved in politics, making it, at the very least, a political group and therein lies the irony of the claims trotted out be these so called independents.

Just to add insult to injury. This non-group, group of independents, hold group meetings before full council meetings, in exactly the same way as the Conservative group do, but somehow they manage to make them last even longer than ours and there’s only twelve of them compared to 25 of us!

It must be all the effort required to be totally independent of each other, that makes their ‘group’ meetings last so long.

As forecast, first public comment was a negative

Spalding Common

Spalding Common

I had a bet with the blokes putting up the first one, about what the tone of the first public comment would be, regarding the new Welcome to Spalding signs. Being a fully paid up member of the cynical B’s club, I bet on it being critical, negative and tinged with an element of spite – and I was right! Pay up guys.
I suppose we should be thankful that at least somebody has not only noticed them, but has taken the time to put pen to paper, given the lack of interest displayed by many when it comes to local issues – apart from planning applications that is.
The writer of today’s letter in the Spalding Guardian, is a regular contributor to the page.  He obviously missed the postage stamp sized story on these signs, the first time around, or I would have expected to see his critical appraisal published back then.
No, the signs are not made of Perspex (a trade name for acrylic) Mr Sadd, they are aluminium, with the image printed on – durable vinyl material, designed for this use.
The signs are as temporary as you want them to be Rodney. If you can find the several thousands of pounds, probably as much as £10,000 would be my guess, to commission, design, manufacture and install something similar to the wooden signs that Spalding once had, I’m sure we would all be very pleased to see these signs replaced.
My guess is, that there isn’t anybody out there already writing the cheque for this work and that these signs will remain in place for at least as long as the embarrassing ‘lollipops’ that they replaced – come on prove me wrong for once, I dare you. That’s not an invitation to go and nick them by the way.

Why 20mph speed limits, in residential streets, are a must

Driving on a local road this afternoon, on my way to deliver public meeting flyers. Suddenly, from behind a parked car appears a football, followed by a young lad, who luckily saw me and stopped chasing his ball.

If I was doing the legal speed limit and hit him, would it make me feel any better at all, that I was ‘in the right’ and he was silly enough to run out in the road without looking? Absolutely not!

The problem these days, is that far too many drivers see 30mph as a target to be aimed for, as opposed to the absolute maximum if, all road conditions are absolutely ideal – and that’s a very big if.   Parked cars, junctions, narrow roads and the strong likelihood of children out playing in a residential street at the weekend, especially if it’s not raining or very cold, all this means that 30mph on most residential roads, is unacceptable, legal or not.

Too many of us become selfish and blinkered when they get behind the wheel of the car, determined to get where we’re going, as fast as we can and with the least amount of slowing down, let alone stopping. You only have to witness the way so many drivers launch themselves at the traffic calming build outs, to see just how reluctant drivers are to have slow down if they can possibly avoid doing so.

I’m not claiming that my, ‘old-man in a flat cap’ driving technique, saved this child from serious injury or death, given that he put his breaks on when he saw the car. However, if the boy had continued to charge on, with only ball recovery on his mind and I had been doing 30 mph, the injuries sustained would have been far greater and far more likely to cause death, than if I had been doing only 20 mph or less and that is something I defy anybody to argue with.

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 

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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

 

 

Wygate Park intentional(?) blind spot identified

1. Approaching the build out obviously sweeps left, out of sight, requiring drivers to slow down because they are unable to see if it’s clear to drive around the build out.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

In these two final shots, you can see the road beginning to open up more, as I arrive at the exact location of the give way line on the road.  Clearly, if the driver is to proceed safely, they will need to be going slow enough at this point to make a decision as to whether or not to stop on the line.
Image