“Get the road signs cleared!”

A call has been made to sort out our area’s road signs.

C8G2TM Road sign obscured by shrubs, UK

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson has asked why road signs are unreadable and overgrown and has called for them to be cleared across the Cotswolds.

He met with Gloucestershire Highways and the Amey road contractors this week:

“We drove up and down one of the roads in my county council division (the A435 between Cirencester and Cheltenham) and I pointed out the signs which were either totally invisible or partly obscured.

“I’ve had a commitment that there will be major cut backs of vegetation in the next 7 weeks.

“I’ve noticed many signs across Gloucestershire are unreadable or only visible when you are on top of them – which can be too late if you are looking for something.

“The A429 on the approach to Northleach from Bourton is particularly bad – big signs are almost totally covered by overhanging branches. Clearing them is a no brainer to me as money’s been spent on the signs in the first place and it helps people who don’t know the area to navigate safely. At this time of year there are a lot of tourists driving round our area.

Cllr Hodgkinson feels it’s also about a clear and professional approach:

“There’s also something here about civic pride in having a clean and having a well maintained road network.”

Review of A429 called for

Following last week’s two deaths along the A429 in the Cotswolds, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton and Northleach) is calling for the County Council to urgently set up a task group to get to grips with issues along the road.

accident

He has called today for the Council’s Environment Scrutiny Committee to look at the issue at its September meeting:

“The issue for us locally is that the Cotswolds continues to have the worst accident record in Gloucestershire. There were still 10 deaths in the district last year – that is 10 too many with the impact that has on families and friends of those who lost their lives. Now we have ben blighted by a further 2 on the Fosse Way. I get repeated concerns from residents about the state of the road and its dangers. It’s now time to act.

“Working with other councillors in the Cotswolds I am calling for the Council to set up a working group to come up with some recommendations to deal with safety and also to work out how to ease the increasing gridlock which Stow, Moreton and Bourton all now face regularly.

“This road wasn’t built for a massive increase in traffic – the whole thing needs looking at.”

Cllr Hodgkinson has submitted a ‘councillor call for action’ which requires the Council to now consider what action it should take.

You can hear Paul’s interview with Radio Gloucestershire about this issue here:

https://audioboom.com/boos/3480054-paul-hodgkinson-calls-for-action-over-the-a429

Businesses asked for views on noisy road

An action group from along the A419/A417 is asking local businesses for their views on the noisy road.

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The issue of noise from the dual carriageway has been a running sore for residents since it was first built in 1998. Various attempts to reduce the sound have been made over the years without success so far. The action group, calling themselves A419NAG, was formed in 2012 and is made up of local residents and councillors who live in the Cotswolds and North Wiltshire. It surveyed 500 residents last year and the findings showed that the road is having a real impact on people’s lives and health.

The research findings were published in a report called ’The Social Consequences of Road Noise’ and found that from 500 respondents 97% said they could hear the noise from the concrete section of the dual carriageway. 88% said it was disruptive to their everyday lives.  Many reported loss of sleep and headaches, others stress and anxiety.

Now, the group is taking its campaign one step further by seeking feedback from businesses near to the busy highway.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (GCC, Bourton & Northleach) is chairing the group and says the aim of the new survey is to find out whether the road noise is impacting on the local economy:

“Last year’s report made uncomfortable reading for the authorities. Highways England have taken it seriously and met with us but have said that it is the economic impact which could help push the Government to act.

“So now we want to find out how the road noise affects businesses located close to the concrete section of the A417/A419. We’ve set up a pilot online survey and have approached some firms along the stretch of the road to see if the noise is also an issue for them, their staff and customers.

“Once we’ve got the results of the pilot we will roll out the survey out to a wider area along the dual carriageway and will publish the findings in a report later this year.

“Our aim as always is to show that there is an issue here with this road which needs addressing. It must be solved before the improvements to the Air Balloon roundabout come on stream as those much-needed changes will inevitably lead to more traffic along the whole stretch of the road further south.”

 

The survey can be accessed at: www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/A419NAGBusinessSurvey/.  It will be available to complete online until July 31st 2015.

Pull your socks up, roads contractor told

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson received cross-party support yesterday for a call to monitor more closely Gloucestershire’s highways contract with Amey. He also received backing to continue imposing financial penalties if performance targets are not consistently achieved in the upcoming 2015/2016 financial year.

The long awaited debate coinciding with World Pothole Day regarding the condition of Gloucestershire roads was finally discussed with contributions made from elected members across all political parties.

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Shadow Cabinet Member for Highways and Flood, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (LD: Bourton-on-the-water and Northleach) who led the call said that:

“This debate has been a long time coming, but I’m pleased that elected representatives have finally had a chance to voice in public their concerns and frustrations regarding the county’s highways contract with Amey.

“The very fact that my request for closer monitoring of the contract and for financial penalties to be imposed if they don’t keep up with high performance has received such support from all sides of the chamber tells me that there are still many problems that need addressing.

“I’m particularly pleased that the Cabinet Member for Highways has finally taken off his ‘rose-tinted spectacles’ to see that something needs to be done. It is time that Amey pulled up their socks and get on with the job that Gloucestershire’s residents, businesses and visitors all deserve.

 

Bin the litter!

A call is being made to keep the Cotswolds cleaner.

Paul Hodgkinson collecting bag fulls of rubbish with local resident Christine Watson

Paul Hodgkinson collecting bag fulls of rubbish with local resident Christine Watson

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for the Cotswolds) is calling for Cotswold District Council to be more proactive in clearing the area of unsightly rubbish.

At present, the Council picks up litter in some areas regularly but many rural roads face long waits between visits by waste collectors.

Cllr Hodgkinson (CDC, Churn Valley) believes the time is right for the Council to keep the Cotswolds cleaner:

“At this time of year the verges are clear of leaves and you can see the litter strewn everywhere. Fast food cartons, coffee cups and plastic bags make our unique area look like a tip. What message does this send out to visitors and residents who want to enjoy the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

“Because the Council’s litter collections are so infrequent people are taking the matter into their own hands and doing litter picks themselves. I’ve been out with local residents and we brought back bags laden down with wine and vodka bottles thrown out of car windows. It was pretty shocking to see what the verges are full of.

“I know many people take huge pride in the Cotswolds and want to see it kept clean and tidy. I’m saddened by the amount of litter along the verges of our country roads and lanes and it’s time to take some action.”

Now, Cllr Hodgkinson is proposing a motion to Cotswold District Council which calls for a more proactive approach to litter picking to be taken so that A and B roads in the Cotswolds receive more regular, programmed clear ups than is currently the case. The motion will be heard at the Council’s meeting on 24 February.

The call is being backed Cllr Joe Harris (Cirencester Park): “It’s not just the rural roads which are a problem. Crisp packets and sweet wrappers thrown down are also spoiling our towns. I organised two litter picks recently around Cirencester with students from the Royal Agricultural University who did their bit to make the area cleaner.

“It’s not asking for much to get the Council to act on this issue and I hope the Conservatives will see sense and join with us in literally clearing up the mess. “

Road noise levels double – shock findings

An action group from along the A419/A417 have published startling new figures which show a dramatic increase in noise levels.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (left) with members of A419NAG

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (left) with members of A419NAG

The issue of noise from the dual carriageway has been rumbling on for residents since it was first built in 1998. Various attempts to reduce the sound have been made over the years without success so far. An action group, calling themselves A419NAG, was formed in 2012 and has been lobbying on behalf of residents all along the infamous road.

Now, the group is taking its campaign one step further by publishing noise readings taken at two locations along the highway.

Measurements were taken at Latton in Wiltshire and Cerney Wick in the Cotswold district. They show that the noise has doubled since the road was built 17 years ago.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (CDC, Churn Valley) is chairing the group and believes the new figures give firm evidence that action should be taken at last:

“Our readings show that noise levels have doubled since the road was built in the late 1990’s. For residents living anywhere near the dual carriageway it’s not a surprise but it’s still shocking nonetheless. This pollution is more than an irritant – excess noise has been proven to impact on your health and well-being.”

“Now, as we are making public these figures for the first time they make uncomfortable reading for the authorities.”

Ray Brassington, a member of the group, took the readings using equipment supplied by Cotswold District Council. He was retracing his steps as he did the same thing in 1998 when the road was first built: “I was employed by CDC in 1998 as an Environmental Health Officer and undertook an extensive noise survey along the length of the A419/417 and one of the monitoring locations was in Cerney Wick. The readings then were taken at the exact same location as now and over a same 15 minute period.

“What I’ve found is that the noise level has doubled in that time.”

The World Health Organisation states that to protect the majority of people from being seriously annoyed during the daytime and evening the outdoor noise level should not exceed 55dB. At night time sound levels 1m from the facade of house should not exceed 45 dB so that people can sleep with windows open. The WHO has also stated that prolonged exposure to noise above 55dB can trigger raised blood pressure and even heart attacks.

Ray added: “The noise levels at this location have increased by 9 dB over the 16 years the road has been in operation and are now almost twice as loud. I also took readings at Latton in Wiltshire and these were also almost twice as loud as stipulated by the World Health Organisation.

Now the group is contacting DEFRA to arrange a meeting in order to present its findings.

Cllr Hodgkinson is certain this new information will help residents: “This is about righting a wrong – since the completion of the dual carriageway, people living along this section of the road have told us they suffer excessive noise pollution. Now we know for sure that this is a real problem backed up by data. We now call on the authorities to take the action they should have taken years ago.”

“We will let the findings speak for themselves and drown out the sound of the traffic.”

Air Balloon – cash at last!

 

Today it’s been announced that £250 million funding has been given by the Coalition Government to solve the issues at the Air Balloon A417.

Paul Hodgkinson (centre) with local councillors Iain Dobie and Nigel Robbins.

Paul Hodgkinson (centre) with local councillors Iain Dobie and Nigel Robbins.

In a raft of funding for major road projects across the UK, money has been allocated to develop a solution to the notorious traffic blackspot which has seen six people lose their lives in the last year.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, who represents the Air Balloon area on the County and District Council, says it is great news after the years of waiting:

“After so much campaigning, so many accidents and the blight of pollution, today’s announcement is music to my ears and to the many people who’ve been wanting this. All the hard work has paid off. 

“I put motions to both the County Council and District Council calling for action from Government and both of these were unanimously approved – these strong messages clearly helped influence ministers to act at last.

“Now it’s important to make sure that this area’s problems get fixed as quickly as possible and that this is combined with measures to reduce noise from the road for communities along the dual carriageway to the north and south of Cirencester.”

 

Wanted: Local Plan

Fields across the Cotswolds are at risk from unplanned development thanks to the Cotswolds Tories.

That’s the latest news, as the Conservative-run Cotswold District Council (CDC) falls behind around 70% of districts which have a draft ‘Local Plan’ in place – the blueprint which dictates where development should go.

Now, in breaking news, the Council has also been criticised by planning inspectors for failing to have enough housing in the pipeline to satisfy demand (called a ‘5 year housing supply’).

Planning bosses in Bristol overturned a decision not to allow new housing in Fairford by waving through another large development there despite opposition locally. Their main reason was CDC’s lack of a proper housing supply.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Prospective MP for the Cotswolds, is leading the fight to protect our countryside:

“When you consider that our area is unique and special, it beggars belief that the current MP and those who run our local Council have allowed this situation to happen.

Paul Hodgkinson (right) is fighting to protect our countryside

Paul Hodgkinson (right) is fighting to protect our countryside

“They knew years ago that a new Local Plan was needed but have put developers in the driving seat by leaving the Cotswolds exposed.

“Instead of allowing – where practical – small-scale developments to be built in villages across the district which have asked for them, the Tories have left the gate wide open.

“Now, our unique communities like Bourton, Stow, Tetbury and Moreton, as well as Cirencester, are faced with lots of extra houses but with no real improvement in services.”

“Whilst thousands of holiday homes have been built in our area by CDC, the housing crisis gets worse. The Cotswolds has the biggest gap between wages and house prices outside London, so something has to change.

“The emphasis now should be on affordable homes in the right places and where they are needed.

“That will help people live near to their families and friends instead of being forced to move away.”

Call for boost to recycling in the Cotswolds

Cotswold District Council is being urged to up its game on recycling.

Paul with councillors and campaigners outside Council offices

Paul with councillors and campaigners outside Council offices

Liberal Democrat Councillors are applying pressure to the administration at CDC to fall in line with many other councils across the country by introducing doorstep collections of Tetrapaks.

Parliamentary Candidate, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley), who proposed a motion to the Council Meeting on 23 September, said: “This is part of our campaign to convince the Council that people want this service and it is the best possible outcome for the environment.”

He claimed CDC is one a falling number of councils in England that fails to recycle juice and drink cartons on the doorstep. Neighbouring councils who have such a service include nearby Tewkesbury and West Oxfordshire. At present, many cartons end up in landfill.

“When we campaigned successfully for plastics recycling it was a big step forward. Now, we want to help empty people’s black bins even more by helping them get rid of cartons in a greener way,” he said.

“Unfortunately, people can’t recycle Tetrapaks on the kerbside and the number of banks for disposing of them has fallen. Added to that is the fact that many think they can throw these cartons into the blue cardboard bags. In fact, if people do this, they contaminate all the cardboard and none of it can be used for recycling.”

“I asked the question on Facebook whether people wanted to recycle cartons and the resounding answer was yes! I hope the Council will now listen to them and get recycling rates back up again.”

 

A united front will keep the pressure on to fix the Missing Link

Local county councillors have joined forces to ask more people to show their support for the A417 Loop solution.

Cllrs Nigel Robbins and Paul Hodgkinson (right) are backing urgent action at the Air Balloon.

Cllrs Nigel Robbins and Paul Hodgkinson (right) are backing urgent action at the Air Balloon.

In May next year central government will make its decision on funding for the A417 Loop, Gloucestershire County Council’s solution for the ‘missing link’. Local county councillors, Paul Hodgkinson, Robert Vines and Nigel Robbins are backing the campaign and reminding anyone who travels this route that there is still time to pledge their support.

Earlier this year the ‘missing link’ was added to a Highways Agency list of roads in the south west that need major improvements because of capacity, safety and environmental issues.

The road’s appearance on the list means it is one step closer to finding funding when the Government allocates cash, but more pledges are still needed to make it known how much local support there is for the scheme.

So far, more than 5780 people and businesses have signed up at www.a417missinglink.co.uk.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, local county councillor for Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach said, “I urge you to join the Gloucestershire residents and businesses who’ve already signed up to finally fix this controversial road. If we join together, we can make the difference.”

Cllr Nigel Robbins, local county councillor for Cirencester Beeches said, “With more than 34,000 vehicles a day, it’s a bottleneck which holds up commuters and business on a daily basis; let’s get it fixed once and for all. Please pledge your support today.”

Local business owners and commuters are encouraged to show their support for the A417 Loop by signing up and pledging their backing at www.a417missinglink.co.uk.