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/

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.

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.

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.”

County Council backs Air Balloon ‘experiment’ despite residents’ opposition

A proposal by the Highways Agency to change the junction lay out at the notorious Air Balloon roundabout has provoked an outcry from local residents. Gloucestershire County Council has confirmed it supports a trial change and is part funding it.

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L to R: Road safety campaigners Nigel Robbins and Jane Edwards with Cllr Paul Hodgkinson at the Air Balloon roundabout

A combination of air pollution and gridlocked traffic has prompted the Agency to come up with an ‘experimental layout change’ at the junction. The change would mean that traffic coming from the Cirencester and Swindon directions will only be able to turn left to Gloucester, with barriers preventing it going to the Leckhampton Hill and A436 exits.

Cars coming from the Gloucester direction will have free unimpeded access onto the roundabout, meaning that it will be free flowing. The experiment is understood to last for 6 months.

Many local residents have reacted to the news with dismay. Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley) has received over 100 emails and letters from people opposed to the scheme, “It’s been incredibly difficult getting hold of the Highways Agency to let them know the depth of feeling about this proposal. However, I’m due to speak to them shortly to let them know how people feel.”

“The cost of this experimental scheme will be £100,000 but from the HA’s own modelling air pollution will only show a slight decrease whilst CO2 emissions will rise along with journey times on other roads. All this for a projected saving of just 1 or 2 minutes for those using the A417!”

Nigel Robbins, road safety campaigner and ex principal of Cirencester College, is concerned about the impact on nearby villages, “This proposal – if it goes ahead – will lead to drivers using villages like Elkstone, Birdlip, Coberley and Winstone as rat runs to get to their destination. Traffic trying to get out of the A436 onto the roundabout will also cause longer tailbacks.”

We will keep you updated on the latest developments on this issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Air Balloon madness

Proposed changes to a notorious roundabout have been branded ‘madness’ by a leading councillor.

Air Balloon proposals

The Air Balloon roundabout has become infamous for accidents and bottlenecks as the A417 dual carriageway reduces to just one lane in each direction at Birdlip. Now, in an attempt to cut air pollution and solve the gridlock, the Highways Agency have come up with a ‘trial’ scheme.

The scheme would allow only traffic from Cirencester to turn left at the roundabout (towards Gloucester). In turn, traffic coming up the steep hill from Gloucester will have unimpeded access onto the roundabout.

Now, local residents are up in arms over the proposals. 

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley) has described the proposals as ‘madness’,  “The Highways Agency does not plan to consult on their plan which is crazy. This could have a major impact on villages surrounding the Air Balloon and the A435 as drivers try to find other ways of getting to their destination. For example,  traffic from Cirencester may well use the A435 to get to Cheltenham instead of the A417.

“The HA’s own figures say that there would only be a slight reduction in air pollution at the roundabout if this scheme were implemented. They also say that CO2 emissions would actually go up!

“What about the people who live along the A436? Won’t their air quality plummet as cars are stuck for ages trying to access the roundabout?

“I’ve already had 100 emails and letters, of which all but 3 are opposed to this. The very least we should expect is a full consultation with those whose lives will be impacted on. We can’t possibly  have a situation where this scheme goes ahead regardless of public opinion.”

Cllr Hodgkinson has now written formally to the Highways Agency listing his concerns and pressing them to consult. A public meeting is likely in January to enable residents to have their say. More details to follow.

New figures show thousands of speeding vehicles on Cotswold road

Residents and councilors who formed an action group to campaign for lower traffic speed along a Cotswold road have been astonished by a new set of police figures.

Paul Hodgkinson and the No Crash group

Data collected from six points along the A436 between the Air Balloon Roundabout and Bourton on the Water shows a large number of vehicles travelling at over the speed limit.

The action group, the North Cotswolds Rural area Against Speeding Harm (No Crash), held a public meeting in Andoversford in September at which 50 residents voiced their concerns over road safety. The group was set up to combat the excessive speeds of some motorists on the A436 and surrounding villages.

Information was collected by the police from ‘speed data recorders’ in October and November along the road and shows 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.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (CDC, Churn Valley) is chairman of the group, “These figures do underline the extent of the problem. Whilst some spots show that the average speeds recorded were within the limit they also show just how many people ignore it. We always knew that speeding was a real issue, not just perception. Now, we are asking for regular action over the long term to promote road safety.”

“Last night we met with Inspector Clifford and he has committed to targeting areas along the A436 where the data shows that there is a particular speeding problem. Some checking will also take place near to the school in Andoversford where safety of children is a concern. This is a real step forward, but it is just the start.”

The meeting with the police was also attended by Simon Redmond (Chair of Andoversford PC), Robin Finch (Chair of Shipton PC), Hugh Piggott of the Star College and other Parish Councillors.

Peter Hellyar spoke at the meeting and is a resident along the A436 who has been frustrated by speeding cars and bikes for many years, “The police carried out a high profile check on traffic last month along with other checks in our villages – we thank them for that. However, we would like this problem resolved. Only regular enforcement of the speed limit along various parts of the road will show drivers that it’s unacceptable to use the road as a race track.”

The group is also lobbying Highways for changes to speed limits and features to promote road safety and will meet with them in the New Year to assess progress.

Cllr Hodgkinson added, “So far, our campaign has led to a greater awareness of policing on the road and that can only be good. We’re in this for the long haul and have signaled on behalf of the local community that we are very serious about this issue and our aim is to prevent accidents and save lives.“

See more about this story at: http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/Drivers-speeding-100mph-thousands-breaking-limit/story-17532496-detail/story.html

and

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-20632238

Road safety campaign group meet authorities

Residents and councilors who formed an action group to campaign for lower traffic speed have now met with police and Highways to lobby for their list of requests.

The action group, the North Cotswolds Rural area Against Speeding Harm (No Crash), held a public meeting in Andoversford last month at which 50 residents voiced their concerns over road safety.

The group was set up to combat the excessive speeds of some motorists on the A436 and surrounding villages.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (CDC, Churn Valley) is chairman of the group, “We’ve now met with the authorities and have lobbied them to take action. The police have committed to one major speed check along the road before Christmas. They have also conducted a check in Andoversford village where parents have been worried about speeding cars near the school. Another check is planned in November near to the Cowley crossroads on the A436.”

“This is all good news but we want to ensure this is an ongoing operation by the police. I would like to mirror the good work that’s been done along the nearby A435 where accidents have dropped by three quarters in 4 years. That’s been achieved through year in year out enforcement of the speed limit. That’s where we want to get to.”

The group has also met officers from Gloucestershire Highways today who have committed to the following:

  • Cleaning signs along the A436 and cutting back vegetation where appropriate – by Christmas (this work has already started)
  • Putting up signs to flag to drivers that groups of houses are coming up – signs for Hampen have been ordered and will be erected on the A436 in the next few months as this has been a speeding hotspot for local residents
  • Speed data – data from 6 sites along the A436 will be collected on the speed of traffic. This will then be used to assess whether a reduction in speed limit at various points along the road can be justified
  • 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 are also looking into whether a ‘school safety zone’ is viable (this would include yellow flashing lights at key school times and roadmarkings near to the school)
  • Potential closure of the road through Andoversford – Highways and the parish council are exploring whether closing the rat run through the village – forcing traffic to use the A436 to reach the A40 – is practical. More news on this will follow.

Cllr Hodgkinson thanked Highways for the actions they’ve taken so far but added a word of caution, “We want to have a constructive relationship with Highways, but we must see some more concrete actions on their part to answer the concerns so forcefully expressed by residents. This is clearly a long term campaign!”

Also attending the meeting with Highways today were Simon Redmond (Chair of Andoversford PC) and Robin Finch (Chair of Shipton PC).