Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Crashes on 'northern distributor road' continue - Unacceptable!

Yet another vehicle loses control, demolishing a road sign and hitting a brick wall belonging to a resident in Bowling Green Road.

Fortunately the wall did not fall down causing further damage to the residents property, but two large cracks have appeared in the wall and this means that it will have to be replaced at considerable expense.
Another crash in  Bowling Green Road.

Garden Centre Roundabout.


Tull Way.

A car mounted the grass and headed for the lamp-post in BGR!

Tull Way.

So it had to be replaced!
Ford Ka collided with pedestrian refuge and rolled over in BGR.

Just when you think you have seen it all, a resident will tell you about another crash that has taken place!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

How fast is traffic moving in Bowling Green Road?

Tuesday morning 15 October between 10am -12am, I met up with Cllr Brian Barnes and Cllr Phoenix Dewdney from Thatcham Town Council, to record vehicle speeds in Bowling Green Road. Brian & Phoenix are qualified to operate the Speed Indicator Device (SID).

I was particularly surprised at the speed of some lorries and delivery vans, some were hitting 36 mph! The highest speed for vehicles eastbound was 45 mph and for westbound it was 40 mph!

Many drivers slowed down when they saw the Speed Indicator Device flash up their speed and hopefully the next time they come through Bowling Green Road, they will remember to keep to the 30 mph speed limit.

Local residents continue to express their fears about the speed of vehicles and the number of crashes taking place in the area. These speeds are far too high for the safety of other road users, pedestrians and children, especially when parents are walking their children to school along narrow pavements.

I have repeatedly asked WBC to install 24 hr speed enforcement cameras on Bowling Green Road and requested the attendance of the council funded Road Safety Constable, to use a laser gun to catch speeding motorists but all this has fallen on deaf ears.

Monday, 30 September 2013

A brief look at my Ward work and Shadow Executive Member for Highways & Transport work.

Letter sent to parents asking them not to park on residents garage forecourt when taking their children to Whitelands Park Primary School.  
From time to time, I take a look around the ward of Thatcham West, to see what has been done and what needs my attention! Taking photos is a handy reminder and when I get back to the office I can simply download the photographs from my mobile and email them to the relevant department for the appropriate action to be taken. Here is a selection of photographs showing what local residents have asked me to do for them.

Drains cleaned in Bowling Green Road.
Replaced old road name plates with modern ones.

I arranged for this new lamppost to be moved to the left because the resident couldn't get her car into the drive very easily, and neither could I.
The wires are showing, so the pole needs replacing.
Just checking on the condition of the footpath network near Humber Close. The footpath was converted from a dirt track to tarmac to make it safer and cleaner for pedestrians to use.
Filled hole left by contractors with soil and grass seed for elderly resident.

Cutting back branches overhanging a house.
Planteda tree in Elmhurst Road.
A staggered junction sign that is actually staggered in BGR!
Cleared branches to get some light in.
Cut back the hedge along Bowling Green Road pavement..
Installed new concrete corners to stop vehicles damaging the grass.

Whitelands Park Primary School gets 20 mph speed limit

The resident's petition presented to West Berkshire Council in 2011, has resulted in the installation of parking restrictions outside the school, and just introduced is the 
20 mph speed limit which is operational when the school patrol flashing lights are on.

Will anyone come forward to take up the job of 'Lollipop Person'? You are desperately needed!
Looking south toward the school on Sagecroft Road. Note the flashing lights and sign saying 20 mph when lights show!
Looking east on Sagecroft Road with the new 20 mph sign

Who Dunnit?

The hedgerow bordering the east side of Tull Way, was planted at the same time as the road was constructed. Certainly the idea behind planting the hedge was to give the residents living in Bowling Green Road, protection from the noise and the visual impact of passing traffic.

Looking east from Tull Way across the field to Bowling Green Road
Having returned from holiday, I was quite shocked to see the hedgerow cut to shreds, opening up the whole vista across the field. The Countryside & Environment Department at West Berkshire Council was inundated with complaints, and letters appeared in the local paper. 
I immediately called in to see the department and established that the council was not responsible for cutting the hedge. The hedge in fact is located on highway land belonging to the council.

 I spoke to the owner of the field, Mrs Caroline Graham and she confirmed that she had cut the hedgerow. Having cut the overhang into her field, she thought that it made the rest of the hedgerow look untidy and continued cutting back the remainder.The remains of 9 dead cats were discovered in the hedge after the cutting took place. I have given Mrs Graham my mobile number to contact me first, before cutting any more hedgerow belonging to the council.The hedge will grow about one foot a year depending on the weather. Let's hope the weather is kind to the hedge!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Rush job!

This new highways rush job to improve the flow of traffic at the Thatcham level crossing by introducing a right turn lane into the Sorting Office, has in the view of local observers created a more dangerous road layout.

The bus lay-by is not wide enough to fully accommodate the bus, forcing passing vehicles into the path of traffic using the right hand turn lane into the sorting office. This in turn creates a queue of traffic back over the level crossing northbound. 

If of course you are in a hurry and cannot wait for the barriers to come up, then you can take an alternative route!

Heading toward the barriers southbound to beat the queue!

Or you could wait for the barriers to go up and then be on your way again!!

As a reminder, the study cost £13,300 and was paid 50% from a members bid and 50% from S106, a developers contribution. The cost of implementing the right hand turn lane is approximately £70,000, which would be paid from existing S106 contributions. Whilst undertaking improvements the condition of the carriageway on the approach to the level crossing would also be looked at with a view to possible resurfacing.

Is this scheme value for money? Have the highway improvements made any difference to the flow of traffic in the area, or as some have suggested, has this new highway scheme made crossing the level crossing northbound more dangerous because of the bus holding up the traffic?   


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

By jove - I think they've done it!

By jove, I think they've done it!  The Conservative Administration at West Berkshire Council really have pulled out all the stops to reduce traffic congestion around the Thatcham level crossing!
I popped down there to see what was happening and there wasn't a car in sight from any directon!

Looking up Pipers Lane

However, motorists are asking why the crossing has been closed for three weeks. forcing vehicles to take long and arduous alternative routes, only to find that nearby roads are being resurfaced causing even more traffic queues and congestion on the local road network.

Looking up Station Road

The new road scheme at the Thatcham level crossing costs £83,000 in total. The study cost £13,300,
50% from a members bid and £50% from S106 developer contribution.

The cost of implementing the right turn lane into the Thatcham Sorting Office, is approximately £70,000, which would be paid from existing S106 contributions. This includes resurfacing.

Is £83,000 spent on this new road scheme value for money? Well in three weeks time when the level crossing is reopened, we will be able to judge if a right turn lane into the Thatcham Sorting Office, for three vehicles, has made any impact on reducing traffic congestion at the Thatcham level crossing.

Has the Administration pressed the rail company hard, to come up with answers as to how they might free up the level crossing, so that traffic can pass through it more frequently to reduce the long queues?

Monday, 29 July 2013

Hambridge Road - Pot holes & hub caps

Hambridge Road Newbury, has had a long standing road surface problem. Pot holes have been repeatedly repaired but in between time cars have lost their hub caps at considerable cost alone.
Temporary repairs in Hambridge Road.

 These hub caps were revealed after contractors cut back the vegetation beside Hambridge Road.

The government has issued guidance to council's to 'do it right first time'. I have asked for a list of locations showing where the Council is due to repair pot holes on a permanent basis. I would like to monitor the success of permanent repairs. 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Thatcham landscape saved from development.

Plans by a local landowner to build 90 new homes east of Tull Way in Thatcham, have been rejected by a government planning inspector.

In rejecting the housing development, the planning inspector said "the appeal site, being an arable field on the edge of the settlement, retains a rural quality that provides an attractively soft transition between the built-up part of Thatcham and the open countryside beyond, and continued, it would harm the character and appearance of this part of Thatcham, and so would conflict with the objectives of saved Policy HSG.1 of the Local Plan."

Nearby residents supported by Ward Councillor Keith Woodhams attended the planning hearing held at West Berkshire Council offices in Newbury, to raise their concerns over the impact the development would have on the town's infrastructure, wild life and outstanding views across the countryside.

We are delighted with the inspector's decision. Local residents worked really hard to prevent this development going ahead on a greenfield site. I was also delighted to present a 424 signature petition on their behalf to the council Executive in June last year and I feel this added weight to the inspector's decision.

(Excerpts taken from a press release)

Campaign for more speed enforecement on Bowling Green Road continues............

For those of us who live around the Bowling Green Road area, we have known for years that  vehicles exceed the 30 mph limit on that road. But instead of getting on with the job of providing additional speed enforcement, the administration at West Berkshire Council have delayed taking action and gone for another vehicle speed survey instead!

I have provided the council with photographs of crashed cars taken from the garden centre roundabout to the pedestrian refuge outside the Regency Park Hotel. I am proactive whilst the council is reactive!

Let us hope that it does not take a death on these roads to get the council motivated to take action.

Not so much a pedestrian refuge, more a vehicle pinch point. This is where vehicles brake hard when they find they are going too fast to negotiate the narrow road and slight bend.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Abandoned - The drain covers that no one wanted!

I heard a rumour that Northfield Road was due to be resurfaced (many months ago) until the contractor found that gas pipes and electricity cables were dangerously close to the road surface. Had the digger dragged up the pipes and cables, then there could have been a fair wiz and a bang!

This was obviously a case for abandoning the dangerously protruding drain covers near the junction with Sagecroft Road, risking damage to car suspension and tracking and toppling cyclists off their bikes, especially in the dark. This is the worst neglect of road safety I have witnessed in some years. 

What has happened to the supervision of road resufacing that allows this to happen?

                                      Northfield Road looking south with Sagecroft Road on the left.

Sharp edges from this drain cover.
View from the corner of Sagecroft Road
Raised drain left to catch someone out!

Keep Greenham Control Tower for Community Use!

This is our second visit to Greenham Common, inviting visitors to sign the petition to retain the control tower for community use. 

Just seconds before runners set off for the 5km timed 'Newbury Park Run', held at Greenham Common, I take the opportunity to address around 300 with the latest news, with the aid of a megaphone!! 

'Ladies and gentlemen, we are back......... to thank all those who have signed the petition to retain the control tower for community use. You will be interested to hear too that former USAF staff who worked at the base when it was fully operational, have been taking a very keen interest in the future of the control tower as well. I am pleased to tell you that since we last met, we now have over 1,000 signatures on the petition and if there is anyone who wishes to add their signature, we will be pleased to see you after the race'!

Cllr Roger Hunneman and me collecting yet more signatures for the petition, after runners recover from the 5km run.

........and later I got a call to say that the control tower was open for a quick visit!

From the top..what a view looking back towards the south west.............

the south east view........


.......and finally inside where the controllers used to stand and talk to the landing aircraft!