When I moved into the Parish I anticipated that the Parish Council would strive to understand the needs of the Parish and its residents and then attempt to meet those expectations. After all the Parish Council imposes a levy on residents when it sets the level of Council Tax it feels that it can justify.
Sadly, with the passing of time, my hopes have faded and I thought that nothing would surprise me until I read the Draft Minutes of the January Parish Council Meeting which are available at:
If you read these minutes, particularly minute 1296, you will see that the Parish Council has decided to purchase one or more “Speed Indicator Devices” and in order to do this has raised our level of Council Precept to £3,995 for the coming year.
From the minutes, the Precept for the 2016 financial year has not been referred to but I understand that it was £3,630
Not a major increase, only 10.00% nonetheless I feel that it ought to have been justified rather than nodded through with two of our councillors missing and without this business item having been included on the agenda.
Because of the lack of information, I decided to investigate the nature of the discussions which have taken place in the Parish Council and the extent to which these discussions had been communicated to the Parish.
A trawl through the PC minutes showed a worrying lack of discussion which is hardly surprising as there is little evidence to show that the Parish Council had even produced any information to support the case for the installation of “Speed Indicator Devices”.
So how might our PC have approached the concept of installing Spids?
A logical starting point would be to determine the extent to which the existing speed limit is being broken. The PC minutes show that in the past a few unidentified residents have expressed their concern about the speed of traffic through the village.
Consideration of the Facts
The PC minutes show that speed measurements have been taken periodically in the village, these have neither been presented nor discussed but the minutes do record that a police survey had only found two vehicles which had exceeded the speed limit and in neither case was the excess sufficient to warrant pursuing prosecution.
The only accidents reported, other than at Newton, were not speed related.
How Effective are the Proposed Spids?
There has been no recorded discussion of the effects of installing Spids, anecdotally a police traffic officer has said that there is a suspicion that motorists see them as an endorsement that 30mph is safe and acceptable.
Presumably, there is factual information about their effectiveness.
Is 30mph a Safe Speed Through The Centre of the Village?
Given the lack of serviceable footpaths and the risks associated with several access points the majority of road users seem to travel at less that the existing speed limit. But there is no record of this having been discussed.
What Alternatives Might be Available?
Speed bumps must be ruled out because of the interference to adjacent properties, even if current regulations would allow them to be installed.
A 20mph speed limit would potentially be a benefit as it would more accurately reflect existing traffic speeds, however, the published guidance indicates that a 20mph limit might not be granted for Whittington.
There is no indication from the minutes that the advice of either the police or highway authority has been sought to see if an exceptions could be made for the village.
Finally, How Much Will It All Cost?
In July 2006 the cost of two speed indicators was quoted to the Parish Council as £7,100. There is no mention of what this figure might include or what the costs of maintenance could be.
Does This Make Sense to You?
It would seem therefore that our Parish Council are agreeing to an increase in the precept this year alone of some £365 in connection with a device for which there is evidence of the likely costs, all done without any consultation with villagers.
Do you believe this decision has been subject to fair democratic scrutiny? Please post any comments you have on the Village blog.