No Crash – one year on

Residents and councillors who formed an action group to campaign for lower traffic speed are celebrating their first anniversary by issuing a report on progress.

The action group, the North Cotswolds Rural area Against Speeding Harm (No Crash), was set up to combat the excessive speeds of some motorists on the A436 and surrounding villages. The road is one of the busiest in Gloucestershire and runs between the Air Balloon and Bourton on the Water.

Paul Hodgkinson (right) with residents and councillors from along the A436

Paul Hodgkinson (right) with residents and councillors from along the A436

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (GCC, Bourton & Northleach) is chairman of the group, “Last August we launched this campaign in the face of ongoing concerns from Cotswolds residents over road safety in rural areas. Since then we’ve met with the authorities regularly and have lobbied them to take action. Gloucestershire Highways have been very helpful although there is still a desire for lower speed limits along part of the road. The police have committed to speed checks following their survey last November which recorded a staggering 92,000 vehicles speeding in just one week.”

Information was collected by the police from ‘speed data recorders’ in October and November 2012 along the road and showed the number and speed of vehicles. The highest speed recorded was 136mph at the old restaurant near Andoversford. In total, just over a quarter of a million vehicles were recorded, of which 92,000 had broken the speed limit.

Peter Hellyar, who lives on the busy road near Shipton is group secretary: “Speeding is now referred to by some as anti-social. Those of us who live along the A436 are literally in the firing line of traffic. The initial response from the police was reassuring. The tests they carried out backed up our view that there is a real speeding problem. However, we do feel frustrated and what we now need is a very visible and high profile speed check campaign by the police which will remind drivers of the speed limit.”

Hugh Piggott works at the Star College and lives near to the Air Balloon roundabout: “I’ve received a renewed request from members of our golf club to push for a 40mph limit on this stretch of the A436. That is what I want to see in place.”

The group has listed the road safety improvements achieved to date:

  • Hamlet signs have been put up to flag to drivers that they’re approaching some houses
  • Andoversford – ’20 is plenty’ temporary signs have been put up in the area around the school to alert drivers to the hazards there and to protect children. Highways have now confirmed that a ‘school safety zone’ will be out in place in the next 6 months (this would include yellow flashing lights at key school times and roadmarkings near to the school)
  • Lorry companies have been contacted by the group to alert them to some of their drivers exceeding the 40mph limit on the A436.
  • Shipton has launched a Community Speed Watch group in the village to check vehicles speeds.

Cllr Hodgkinson thanked Highways and police for the actions they’ve taken so far but added a word of caution, “We can see some real progress over the last year as a result of our campaign but more needs to be done. This is clearly a long term campaign!”

Now, the group is calling a public meeting for October to allow residents to see the progress made and let the authorities know what they would like to be tackled. Full details will be released next month.

See the press coverage here: http://www.cotswoldjournal.co.uk/news/10639291.Work_to_be_done_say_campaigners/

Call for urgent action on notorious traffic blackspot

The saga of traffic gridlock at the notorious Air Balloon roundabout in the Cotswolds took another turn this week.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson is calling for urgent action at the Air Balloon roundabout

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson says enough is enough at the Air Balloon roundabout (photo courtesy of Wilts & Glos Standard)

Gloucestershire County Council’s Environment Scrutiny Committee has written to the Highways Agency asking for progress to be made on the A417 ‘Missing Link’ and finding a solution to the traffic and pollution problems.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton & Northleach) is a member of that committee and helped to create the letter with other councillors on the committee.

He led the campaign earlier this year against a proposal to stop drivers turning right at the roundabout and now wants a long term solution:

“After the debacle of the ‘no right turn’ suggestion earlier this year, we are left with ever-increasing traffic jams at the Air Balloon, air pollution issues and a blot on the local economy.

“What this letter is doing is asking the Highways Agency to come up with a proper solution and to engage with councillors and residents. We have waited too long and patience has run out.

“One of the residents at the Air Balloon has moved out, having sold their property for a song. They had had enough of bad health caused by the pollution. The Highways Agency has a duty to act quickly for the sake of the other resident who is left there.”

The County’s Environment Committee is hoping for a positive response to the latest initiative.

New safety zone on the way for village

Gloucestershire Highways is looking to make improvements to the School Safety Zone on the A436 by Andoversford Primary School.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson with Andoversford resident and mum Emma Bowen who have both been pushing for greater road safety

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson with Andoversford resident and mum Emma Bowen who have both been pushing for greater road safety

The aim of the scheme is to try to increase driver awareness, reduce vehicle speeds and create a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists on Gloucester Road in the village during peak school times.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson has been chairing the ‘No Crash’ campaign (North Cotswolds Rural area Against Speeding Harm)  for greater road safety along the A436 and in surrounding villages:

“We have been pushing for added road safety measures and its great to see the possibility of safer roads around the school and along this busy road which runs though the village.”

The proposed scheme will feature new signs indicating ‘Max Speed 20 when lights flash’ and a school warning triangle sign which will notify drivers of their entry to the School Safety Zone. These will be supplemented by flashing ‘wig-wag’ lights that will operate at the beginning and end of the school day.

Glos Highways is also suggesting red patches on the carriageway with SLOW markings.

Consultation on these proposals is now taking place with a view to the scheme being introduced in the next year.

Call for cash injection into roads

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson is calling for a big investment in Gloucestershire’s roads to sort out the potholes which have plagued the area.

PaulPothole

The move is made in a notice of motion and a question being put to the full meeting of the County Council on June 19.

Gloucestershire’s roads have featured in lists of the worst highways in the country and have led to the County Council paying out money in compensation to drivers. Numerous potholes have developed due to the cold and wet winter and spring.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Paul Hodgkinson is concerned that much more needs to be done to bring the roads back to a safer standard: “Potholes can been very damaging and something needs to be done as soon as possible. They are really bad news for drivers and have become a huge problem in Gloucestershire, with some repairs to vehicles costing as much as £1,000 due to pothole damage.”

“The Council has reserves which it should use immediately to give Highways the boost in resource to fix our roads. We are looking to make these repairs ones that last. Too many of the repairs we see just ‘wash out’ after a few months – that can’t be good value for money! The whole process by which roads are mended needs looking at radically.” 

“This is an issue which goes across both rural and urban areas. Some roads in the Cotswolds have been riddled with craters and holes and, despite a lot of work being undertaken recently, we need a proper injection of cash to really bring our roads up to standard. It is the matter which people raised consistently on the doorstep during the recent local elections and it is our duty to act decisively to repair our roads properly.”

Notice of Motion

“This council notes that the number one issue on the doorstep in the recent County Council elections was the number of ‘potholes’ and other road damage found on Gloucestershire roads. That in order to address this number one issue and show the Council is listening, Cabinet immediately releases £4 million from Council reserves to be spent over the next two years on road repairs.”

Question from Cllr Paul Hodgkinson to Cllr Vernon Smith:

‘We all know the depth of feeling amongst residents over the state of our roads. The present system of marking up potholes to be fixed and then filling them with tarmac on a separate occasion does not inspire confidence, especially as many then have to be filled again after a short period. What changes are you going to make to the current flawed system to really address this problem?’

Consultation starts for safer road crossing in Bourton

After an 1100 name petition and support from Bourton’s parish council and new County Councillor, a controlled pedestrian crossing in Bourton is set to be in place this year.

Ginie Moss and Paul Hodgkinson at the Station Road location.

Ginie Moss and Paul Hodgkinson at Station Road.

The crossing – in Station Road, Bourton-on-the-Water – was the brainchild of local teacher and resident Ginie Moss. She campaigned along with Cllr Paul Hodgkinson to call for a safer way for pedestrians to cross the busy road. They went to Shire Hall last May to present a petition to the County Council.

Now, Gloucestershire County Council is writing to consult residents on the proposed provision of the controlled crossing.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (GCC, Bourton and Northleach) said, “The proposal is to provide a puffin crossing on Station Road between Bridge House and 160 Roman Way. The proposal is supported by The Cotswold School and Parish Council. The crossing is intended to help people cross Station Road. This location is busy with pedestrians, particularly at the end of the school day.”

“It’s important that people feedback on this proposal so that it can be located in the best place to promote road safety.”

The crossing location is close to The Avenue footpath that links Station Road to High Street. This is a busy path along which are The Cotswold School, Leisure Centre and Bourton-on-the-Water Primary School.

Residents have been asked to comment on the proposals by Monday 17th June 2013.

County Council election this Thursday May 2!

A councillor from the Cotswolds has made election history by producing a video for his campaign to be elected to Gloucestershire County Council.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley) is standing for the Northleach & Bourton area this Thursday May 2. The ward also includes the Chedworth, Withington, Andoversford, Shipton and Brockhampton areas.

The video – filmed in Bourton, Northleach and along the A436 – is a personal account of Paul’s record of action. He talks about the campaign to reduce speeds along the A435, A436 and through our villages as well as the problems of over development and the need to bring empty properties back into use.

Paul says, “No other council candidate in Gloucestershire has made a video of this kind. It’s a different way of getting a message across and it just brings to life the issues I’ve been campaigning on already and which I feel strongly about.”

 

No Crash group making “good progress” in bid to reduce speeds on A436

A stop speeding campaign to cut the number of deaths and collisions on a notorious road near Cheltenham is making good progress, say leaders.

Paul Hodgkinson with residents and councillors who formed 'No Crash' last year.

Paul Hodgkinson with residents and councillors who formed ‘No Crash’ last year.

Members of action group North Cotswolds Rural area Against Speeding Harm (No Crash) say they have made some initial breakthroughs in calls for improved signage along the A436 and surrounding villages.

The group was formed last year after residents voiced concerns over speeding on the route between the Air Balloon roundabout and Bourton-on-the-Water. Alarming figures released in December showed that 37 per cent of motorists broke the speed limit along the stretch with some travelling at up to 130mph.

Councillor Paul Hodgkinson, (Churn Valley), who is chairman of No Crash, said following meetings with police and Gloucestershire Highways, several improvements were planned.

They include:

·         A school safety zone in Andoversford to make it safer for children crossing including flashing signs to alert drivers.

·         Clearer warnings of upcoming junctions for motorists travelling along the A436.

·        Two new signs for the Hampen village hamlet to alert drivers that people live along the road.

·         A survey in Andoversford to look at the flow and direction of traffic through the village with a view to establishing whether traffic for the A40 should be diverted away from the village.

·         Gateway features for Shipton village to reduce speed at the entrance and exits.

Mr Hodgkinson said the moves were a good start to tackling issues on the road, which has been the site of numerous collisions over the years. Only last month there was a nine-car pile-up with two vehicles flipping onto their roofs.

He said: “Given that we only set up the group last summer we feel we are making good progress, but there is still a lot to do.

“We are still concerned about speed along the eastern parts of the A436 – in particular on the way to Bourton.

“Police have confirmed they have carried our regular speed checks along parts of the road, focusing on the old restaurant site near Andoversford.

“Quarry lorries have been seen regularly going over the lorry speed limit by our group members so police and Gloucestershire Highways are now also aware.

“Overall it’s good news so far. Progress is being made and tangible steps are being taken to improve safety.”

The No Crash group’s next meeting will be in April.

Proposal to slash parking charges rejected

An alternative Cotswold District Council budget which proposed slashing car parking charges was rejected by the ruling Conservative administration.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (front) with residents and councillors outside CDC offices.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (front) with residents and councillors outside CDC offices.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson made the formal suggestion at the Council’s annual budget meeting, backed by 40 residents who turned out to hear the debate.

Paul said, “We have listened to the voices of Cotswolds residents and businesses to prepare budget proposals that reflect their needs and wishes. This is a forward-looking budget inspired by the people of the Cotswolds in tough times. We have identified areas where we can really help put money back in people’s pockets whilst stimulating the local economy.”

“We have responded to the issues that affect people everyday while also helping businesses who continue to face such a challenging situation. This Council has more money at its disposal than it anticipated so we must spend some of this – the rainy day is now here and we need to respond to that.”

“We have proposed a big change to car parking charges by making the first half hour free everywhere in the Cotswolds, cancelling the loathed 24/7 charges in Cirencester’s Brewery Car Park and slashing the price of parking for 1, 2 and 3 hour periods.”

“We believe this is a better way forward for the Cotswolds in contrast to the ruling group’s budget which has, yet again, included 24/7 parking charges at the district’s biggest car park, has kept parking charges the same in Bourton and Stow and fails to tackle the massive issue of affordable housing shortages.”

“Sadly, the Conservatives have rejected these proposals today claiming that their parking charges have been ‘a success’.  We wil not give up and will continue to push these reasonable ideas forward until the Council’s administration sees sense.”

The Lib Dem Budget Proposals in full:

  • To make the first half hour free in all CDC owned car parks in the Cotswolds.
  • To cancel the Cirencester Brewery car park pilot in which new 24/7 charges have been levied since the beginning of 2012.
  • To introduce a new car parking tariff across all Cotswold District Council owned car parks as follows:

1 hour – £0.70
2 hours – £1.50
3 hours – £2.20

This would have brought the tariffs in line with the car parking charges for Moreton and Tetbury.

County Council does U Turn at Air Balloon Roundabout

News today that the Conservative administration at Gloucestershire County Council has been persuaded to abandon support for the controversial Highways Agency plans to stop vehicles turning right at the Air Balloon pub roundabout has been welcomed.

L to R: Nigel Robbins, Jane Edwards and Cllr Paul Hodgkinson at the Air Balloon junction.

L to R: Nigel Robbins, Jane Edwards and Cllr Paul Hodgkinson at the Air Balloon junction.

The plans drafted by the Highways Agency were – until now – supported by the County Council, following a meeting last Spring between County Council Leader Mark Hawthorne and Cotswolds MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

Under the plans, vehicles travelling along the A417 from Cirencester would be forced to turn left down the hill towards the A46 Shurdington Road cutting off direct access to the A436 and Leckhampton Hill.

Cotswold District Councillor Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley) has led the campaign against the proposals in the Cotswolds, “I’m glad the County Council has seen sense at last. Many Cotswolds residents will be relieved to hear that the campaign against the trial taking place has made a difference but what is so worrying is that those running the County Council had such little thought for our area when they agreed to back this silly idea.”

“Why did we need to go through all this trouble in the first place? The Council should never have agreed to the proposal nor should it ever have put money towards it.”A

“Now, the Highways Agency need to bite the bullet and drop the scheme. I’m meeting them on Friday February 22 in Bristol and will tell them this in no uncertain terms.”  

 

 

20 is plenty for Andoversford

The campaign to cut excess speeds along the A436 and through our villages is gathering pace.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson with Andoversford resident and mum Emma Bowen

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson with Andoversford resident and mum Emma Bowen

‘No Crash’ (North Cotswolds Rural area Against Speeding Harm) was set up last summer and consists of residents and councillors from all along the A436. Their goal is to make our roads safer, particularly near to homes and villages.

Now, after lobbying police and Highways, some real improvements are happening.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson is chairing the group, “We’ve called for changes to the roads so people can feel safer. Already, Glos Highways have put up 20 is Plenty signs in Andoversford near to the school. This is to alert drivers to the fact that parents and children are walking in that area and that there are alot of homes next to the road through the village leading to the A40.”

Andoversford resident and parish councillor Emma Bowen is a parent and is backing the No Crash campaign. She was as disturbed as the rest of the group to see the results of a road survey last November which saw a staggering 92,000 vehicles breaking the speed limit at various points along the A436.

In total, 282,000 vehicles were recorded in the survey. Paul said, “We always knew that speeding was a real problem and not just perception. One vehicle was recorded at 136mph. The police have carried out a series of high profile speed checks and this will be ongoing along different parts of the A436 and through our villages.”