Call for ‘people’s challenge’ to road closure

A councillor has asked residents to contact Gloucestershire County Council en masse in a bid to re-open a well used Cotswolds road.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (LD, Bourton & Northleach) is calling for the ‘old A40’ near Northleach to be brought back into use after being closed by the Council in 2015. He has tabled a question at this week’s County Council meeting asking if highways bosses are allowing roads to fall into disuse.

The road links villages like Yanworth, Compton Abdale and Hazleton with Northleach and was used as a more direct route to avoid the congested and busy A40. It was temporarily closed under emergency powers after the Council claimed that an initial high level inspection showed that damage to the road was severe enough to cause public harm.

Now, the County Council has formally published its intention under the Road Traffic Act to extend the road closure indefinitely. People have until just 14 September to let Shire Hall lawyers know what they think about this.

Cllr Hodgkinson is asking for as many people as possible to contact Council lawyers urgently:

“Last year I presented a petition with 500 names on it to the Council Leader calling for the old A40 to be re-opened yet their wishes have been ignored. Highways officers promised me that a full geotechnical report would be produced in April with recommendations on how the road could be mended or even partially opened. To date I have still not received any recommendations or proposals. The Council is dragging its feet and I’m fed up with promises being made which aren’t kept.”

“The road is already falling into disrepair and I have been told it is not a priority to open it quickly – I have no faith that it will be re-opened at all.”

“The only way we can get Council bosses to listen is through a people’s challenge to the legal notice which Shire Hall lawyers have issued asking for the road to be closed indefinitely.

“Having taken advice it’s clear that the Council has failed to establish whether the damage to the road is indeed severe sufficiently enough to close it completely, partially if at all. To date and after frequent requests there is still no formal report outlining the severity of the damage. This may lead to potential grounds to challenge outright the extension in full or reduce the current order. For example, to allow one way traffic flow on one side of the road for cars, cyclists and pedestrians.

“I am told that the use of the Road Traffic Act in circumstances where work has not even started or in fact where there are no firm plans or even a timetable to begin work introduces grounds for a challenge. The fact that it took them over 12 months to commission a survey in the first instance and then fail to provide a full report prior to the issue of the legal notice on August 24 infers that Council bosses are deliberately dragging their feet and behaving unreasonably. A challenge may have the potential to force them into scheduling the works within a definite timetable.”

Anyone wishing to make their views known should contact Carrie Denness, Principal Lawyer, Legal Services, Gloucestershire County Council, Shire Hall, Westgate Street, Gloucester, GL1 2TG.

Email: carrie.denness@gloucestershire.gov.uk.

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.”  

 

 

Road safety campaign group issues list of requests

Residents and councilors who formed an action group to campaign for lower traffic speed have now issued a list of requests.

The action group, called the North Cotswolds Rural area Against Speeding Harm (No Crash), is holding a public meeting on 5 September at which it will share its concerns with the authorities.

The group has been troubled by the excessive speeds of some motorists on the A436 and surrounding villages.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (CDC, Churn Valley) is chairing the meeting next month and has issued the list of requests, “The group has put together a number of suggestions which we believe are easily done and sensible solutions. We will be asking the police and Highways for their feedback at the meeting and we hope for a positive response so we can all work together to achieve these things.”

No Crash have called for lower speed limits along parts of the A436 along with better signage for hamlets to alert drivers to points on the road where people live. They are also calling for more visible and regular policing of the speed limits to help reinforce the road safety message.

The group consists of residents Peter Hellyar, Peter Ellis, Amanda Kitson, Robert Buck, Peter Davies and Frank Hemming along with Hugh Piggott from the National Star College and Simon Redmond, Andoversford Parish Council Chairman, Shipton Parish Council Chairman Robin Finch and Cotswold District Councillor Robin Hughes.

The meeting will take place at 7.30pm on Wednesday 5 September at the Andoversford Church Centre.

Pothole hell

After the frosts of the winter, very low temperatures in February dipping to minus -13c in the Cotswolds and recent rain the roads have taken a battering.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson at one of the offending potholes in the Churn Valley

Lots of residents are reporting damaging potholes on roads in the area.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson is concerned about the way potholes are mended, “My observation is that – although Glos County Council Highways repair the damage when requested to – alot of repairs seem to quickly turn back into potholes again.”

Surely in the longer run it would be better value if the Highways crews patched the bigger area around the pothole to make sure it doesn’t crumble so quickly. The patching of areas seems to be much more effective than simply filling the pothole with tarmac.”

If you spot a bad piece of road you can contact Glos Highways direct via http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=8611 or ring 08000 514514.

Alternatively, if you don’t get the response you’re looking for, contact Paul direct and he’ll ask Highways to sort it.


Leckhampton Hill Road Safety Campaigners help with cut-backs

Local road safety campaign group S.A.F.E.R. (Salterley Action Force to Enhance our Roads) today worked with Gloucestershire County Council Highways Department to set up a real example of the ‘Big Community’ by bringing together a volunteer work force to cut back the excess foliage on the sharp bends in the 3/377 Leckhampton Hill road (formerly B4070) between Hartley Lane and Salterley Grange, in order to improve road-users’ visibility.

Paul (2nd right) with Ullenwood residents and Star College employees - all of whom gave their time to make the road safer for drivers.

In recent years, these bends saw numerous serious accidents, but thanks to a concerted effort by S.A.F.E.R., a number of key measures implemented by GCC Highways and a raised media profile in the Gloucestershire Echo, the last 12 months have seen a dramatic improvement.

Now, with the support of GCC Highways, the campaigners set to work to cut back the overhanging shrubbery, branches and dense undergrowth to give improved visibility across the bend and along the road from the Hartley lane junction in order that drivers can be more aware of on-coming traffic and take extra care.

“We are really pleased that the number of incidents has reduced so significantly over the last 12 months, – but we must strive to keep it that way” said Duncan McGaw, Coberley Parish Councillor and S.A.F.E.R. member. “And as we move into the winter months, we must remind drivers of the need for raised awareness and extra caution. We believe better lines-of-sight are key factors to a safer driving environment”. “S.A.F.E.R. volunteers can provide the labour to get the job done with Highways providing health and safety guidance as well as the necessary traffic management signage. A great co-operative effort!”

And Paul Hodgkinson, Cotswold District Councillor and part of S.A.F.E.R. added, “From the outset, this community has been determined to see improvements in safety on this road and the fact that it has been prepared to get physically involved to achieve it, speaks volumes. I hope that drivers using this road get the message they are sending out, respect it and keep their speeds down”.