A new project to help promote safer speeds in our villages kicks off next month.
Many residents in the Churn Valley feel strongly about the speed of traffic along our roads, especially the A435 and A436.
Now, the police have joined forces with the local community to put the spotlight on the areas where speed is still an issue.
A ‘Community Speed Watch’ meeting is to be held on Wednesday 10th August 2011 1900hrs at Elkstone Village Hall. The meeting will agree how to tackle ongoing speeding problems in the area’s ‘hot spots’.
Paul Hodgkinson welcomed the initiative, “Speeding and Road Safety comes up so often when people talk to me – it is a real concern for residents in the Churn Valley, so this new project has to be good news. Everyone is welcome to attend and make this successful.”
Residents of the Churn Valley and Stratton turned out en masse yesterday to hear about the work completed on the safercycle and walkers route.
60 people came to the North Cerney Memorial Hall to hear how a group of volunteers has been working since 2008 to provide a safer route for those on foot, bike and horse to go between Cirencester and North Cerney.
Mike Barton (standing) talks to residents at the North Cerney Memorial Hall
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson set up a team of residents, councillors and GCC/CDC officers three years ago to look at the viability of a safe route along the Churn Valley. Now, the route has been fixed as following the River Churn. Residents at the meeting heard how the volunteers have worked with landowners and the Bridleways officer at GCC, Mike Barton, to bring the existing bridlepath up to the correct standard.
Paul took residents through the ‘story’ of how the group had worked voluntarily and with a very small budget to make the project come to life, “It’s a real story of the Big Society in action. What we’ve achieved here is a safer route for people to use, replacing worn out gates, making the surface more even and clearing undergrowth. There’s still more to do, but residents left the meeting enthused about what has been done. I would like to thank the volunteers for working so well together for the good of the community.”
GCC Officer Mike Barton showed residents ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of the route and maps were on hand for people to view.
Now, the next step is to find a way for the route to be extended to Rendcomb so that villagers there and College students can benefit too.
Following a serious accident on 9 March 2011 which sadly resulted in a person being taken to hospital and another accident the same evening, the Salterley Action Force to Enhance our Road (S.A.F.E.R.), set up to campaign for improved safety on the Leckhampton Hill 3/377 road, is appealing to drivers to take extra care and abide by the advisory ‘Max speed 30’ signs on the dangerous bends near Salterley Grange.
After working closely with the Highways Department and prominent coverage by the Gloucestershire Echo, S.A.F.E.R. was delighted that safety improvements were made in November 2010. These included the installation of ‘Max speed 30’ advisory signs at the north and south approaches to the ‘S’ bend and some patching to damaged areas of the road surface. Highways also relocated and improved the ‘junction ahead’ sign to the south of Hartley Lane junction.
Following this work, and despite the poor weather and road conditions over the winter months, the group has been pleased not to hear of any incidents through that period. However, in addition to the 2 accidents on Salterley bends on Wednesday 9th, it is understood there was also an incident on the previous day, 8 March, at another danger spot, the junction with Hartley Lane.
“It is very saddening that having come through some terrible winter weather without incident, we now have three in a row” commented Coberley Parish Councillor, Duncan McGaw, who lives nearby. “We really need drivers who use this road to remember the message and take great care at these potentially hazardous spots, particularly when the surface is wet – the signs are there to help make this road a safer place for them, as well as other road users.”
The S.A.F.E.R. group continues to talk with Highways for a review of the road surface and camber on the bends. “It’s a narrow carriageway and a very sharp bend, – the surface needs to be as skid-resistant as possible and the camber needs adjustment to help drivers keep to their own side better” said Cotswold District Councillor (Churn Valley Ward) Paul Hodgkinson. “We do appreciate the financial pressures on the Council, but we must work together to find a cost-effective solution that will address this problem.”
The Salterley Action Force to Enhance our Road – S.A.F.E.R – has welcomed the prompt actions taken by the Highways Department to improve safety on two of the danger spots of the 3/377 Leckhampton Hill road (formerly B4070).
And, to promote better understanding of S.A.F.E.R.’s aims, the issues with the 3/377 and provide a contact point for information and support, the group has launched a website: http://sites.google.com/site/safercampaign
In a major step towards improving road safety by alerting drivers to the dangerous bends at Salterley, advisory signs stating ‘Max speed 30’ have been placed on the north and south approaches to the ‘S’ bend by GCC Highways Department. “The S.A.F.E.R. group is delighted that GCC Highways has listened to our case and acted so quickly” said Coberley Parish Councillor, Duncan McGaw, “We feel it is vital to get the ‘30’ figure into drivers’ minds. We must now make sure that drivers understand that it makes sense – and respect it! We believe it just isn’t safe to take that sharp bend at anything over 30 mph – and even then, when the weather and road conditions are poor, it needs to be less”.
S.A.F.E.R. will monitor the outcome from these improvements but will continue its campaign for other safety improvement reviews. This small country road is a major commuter route from Swindon/Cirencester and Gloucester directions. Latest Police surveys on traffic volume on this road show the total two-way flow is over 48,000 vehicles per week.
Commenting on progress to date but with an eye to future needs, Cotswold District Councillor (Churn Valley) Paul Hodgkinson said “I’m delighted that we’re already seeing some encouraging movement from Gloucestershire Highways as a result of our campaign. The advisory speed limit signs are a good reminder to drivers how dangerous this stretch of road can be if not negotiated at lower speeds. However, as the latest fatal accident nearby shows, we can’t let up on our desire to make the road safer. There may well be more fundamental issues to do with the camber of the road at the bends, and we will be pushing to make sure Highways investigate this thoroughly and take appropriate action if it’s needed. We’re equally concerned to have the 3/377 junction with the A436 reviewed and made safer.”
Summarising the achievements to date, Paul concluded, “What this campaign has already shown is that where a group of people feel strongly about something they can actually make a difference. Local residents and commuters who use the road have combined to send a powerful message which we all hope will save lives and prevent accidents.”
Eight inches of snow fell in the Churn Valley yesterday, leaving the area carpeted in a Christmas scene.
Despite the wonderful wintry views, the snow has caused problems for many residents. The A435 was impassable for most vehicles and snowploughs tried their best to clear the road – a sight rarely seen in the area since 1990, but the last three years have witnessed a ‘snow comeback’.
Some elderly residents have been running out of heating oil, others need food as they can’t get to the shops.
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson said, “The bad weather makes it difficult for all of us, but elderly people need to be remembered. From my own temperature records, which I keep every day, this month will be a record breaker. Let’s make sure Christmas is a warm enough one for everyone locally.”