Speed Indicating Devices

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:

Whittington PC January 2017 Minutes

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?

Starting Point
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.

Graham Williams

GERALD’S FEB 2017 BLOG

What a happy occasion the Arkholme Pensioners Lunch Club Party was – a very well- cooked traditional Christmas dinner, very neatly served by the school children, followed by some very good carol singing, again by the school children, making it a lovely start to the Christmas season. Thank you to everyone who helped to organise it, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Church carol service was well attended. We love singing those old traditional carols and hearing the Christmas story once again. It brings back so many happy memories of families and days long gone.

I suppose there was a good reason to renew the street lights. It certainly hasn’t improved the quality of illumination. In fact you almost have to shine a torch to see if they are on. The new lights might have worked if the lamp posts had been ten feet taller and the light spread wider. I just think this is progress going backwards.

The next dance in the Village Hall is on Saturday 4 February when Dennis Westmorland is back playing, raising funds for Lupton Church.

It is seventy years this month since the big freeze of 1947. As an eleven year old at Arkholme school, I remember it well All the becks and ponds were frozen as well as the river Lune, lots of snow for sledging, and great fun sliding on the frozen ponds. Not much fun for our parents though, food was scarce, there was a shortage of coal, and every house then was heated by a coal fire. The miners were threatening to go on strike to make matters worse, and the dockers’ were holding up deliveries of fresh food on the docks. We just do not know what it is like to see shops selling food having empty shelves nowadays do we.

Gerald Hodgson

Conservation Area

A number of references have been made to the Whittington Conservation Area.  Megan Atkinson, Conservation Officer, Regeneration and Planning, Lancaster City Council has very kindly provided a map of the actual conservation area.

You will see that the area in which the planned 3 dwellings are proposed to be built are outside the Conservation Area.  The “Barn” conversion, on the other hand, is within the area.

We must remember that it is not a “Barn”.  It was originally a stable.

John Keegan

Public Phone Box Update

  1. Consultation

Ofcom require BT to notify local councils of their intention to remove a public phone box and suggest that the local council, in our case Lancaster City, should notify the affected Parish Councils who might then raise objections.
I have been advised by the Planning Department that the City Council do not take any action to notify affected parishes.

  1. Information

The Notice inside the phone box is dated 31 August 2016 and gives a 42 day consultation period for objections to be raised with the local council.
The Lancaster Guardian dated 4 November 2016 gives a list of phone boxes which are to be removed, Whittington is buried in the list and is shown as having two phone calls made in 12 months.

  1. Parish Council

It is possible that the Parish Council is aware of the situation and has already made representations to the City Council over a failure to keep then informed.

No doubt we will learn more in due course.

Graham Williams

The Village Blog