Liberal Democrats Welcome Changes to Parking Charge Plans

Liberal Democrat councillors have welcomed proposed changes to Calderdale Council’s plans to increase car parking charges.

Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr James Baker (Warley) told us: “The original plans for parking charges caused uproar when they were first announced in September. Liberal Democrat councillors pressed the Labour Cabinet to think again and it now looks as if they have come up with a scheme that will have more widespread support”.

“If a paper to be discussed by the Council’s Cabinet is approved next week, some increases in charges will be smaller than previously proposed and a free parking period will be allowed where new parking charges are introduced.”

“I’m also pleased that the Council is to agree to review these charges every two years, rather than waiting much longer and then proposing a large increase that upsets everyone”, said Cllr Baker.

The Cabinet will be discussing the issue of parking charges at its meeting on Monday 12th December.

Lib Dems Call for More Council Action on Dangerous Driving

Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat group is calling on the Council to take more effective action to stop dangerous driving. The issue will now be debated at next week’s Council meeting.

Councillor James Baker (Warley), leader of Council’s Liberal Democrat Group says: “Traffic accidents cause tremendous personal grief and immense expenditure by the public sector. We believe that the Council can and should do more – on its own and by working with others – to tackle this problem.”

“This is a very important, and growing, issue for communities across Calderdale. It affects a wide range of people: pedestrians trying to cross roads; parents worrying about their children playing outside; aggressive driving and tailgating is making the lives of motorists a misery, and high insurance rates are hitting our purses.”

“Figures from the Department for Transport suggest that over £2m could be saved for each fatal accident that is prevented. Much of this falls on the Police and the NHS and it could be better spent on other things.”

“We believe that local councils are well placed to take more effective action on dangerous driving, especially on speeding, which has been shown to lead to more, and more severe, accidents. As well as taking action itself, the Council should also ensure that it is working with others – particularly the police – to clamp down on dangerous drivers,” said James.

The motion submitted by James for discussion at the Council Meeting to be held on 29 September 2016 reads:

Tackling Dangerous Driving

This Council notes that:
a) Traffic accidents cause immense personal grief and trauma to those involved and to witnesses;
b) The Department for Transport estimate that the financial cost of accidents can be enormous: over £2million for a fatal accident; around £25,000 for even a ‘slight’ accident;
c) Nationally, the cost of all reported road accidents is estimated to be over £16billion. Some argue that the true cost may be twice this amount;
d) Much of this cost falls on the public sector, especially on the Police and the NHS, and
e) Driving at high speed increases the number and the severity of accidents, and is a matter of real concern to many Calderdale residents.

This Council believes that reducing incidences of dangerous driving (including speeding) is a matter in which it should play, along with its partners and local communities, a significant role.

Council therefore resolves to:
a) Reaffirm that tackling the issue of dangerous driving is important to this Council;
b) Support, wherever possible, requests by local communities for the provision of speed cameras;
c) Use its position as a multi-functional local authority to ensure that Public Health, Highways and Education departments (and others) are working together effectively and consistently to reduce dangerous driving;
d) Request that the Leader (or relevant Cabinet member) explore with other interested partners the possibility of the proceeds of traffic offence fines and vehicle seizures being retained locally solely to fund increased activity aimed at reducing dangerous driving, and
e) Request Cabinet to consider a report on these matters, including the extent and effectiveness of inter-departmental and inter-agency working, before the end of this municipal year.

Additionally, this Council calls on the West Yorkshire Police, and the Crime and Police Commissioner, to ensure the provision in Calderdale of a permanent police unit charged with reducing dangerous driving, and that all Calderdale’s neighbourhood policing teams equipped with, and trained in the use of, mobile ‘speed guns’.

Lib Dems Slam Proposed Parking Charge Increases

Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat group has slammed proposals to increase car parking charges throughout Calderdale.

The matter was discussed by the Council’s Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel at a meeting on Thursday 8th September, and will be discussed again by the Council’s Cabinet on Monday 12th.

Councillor James Baker (Warley), the leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat Group said: “Yet again the Council seems determined to upset local residents, shop-keepers and business owners by introducing hefty increases in parking charges.”

“Although increases are planned for towns across Calderdale, Hebden Bridge seems – again – to be being singled out for particularly harsh treatment. It is already the only town in Calderdale where charges are in place for seven days a week, but now there is a suggestion that on-street charges could be increased from 40p an hour to £1. It is too much. No wonder people think the Council is treating Hebden Bridge as a cash cow.”

“It is particularly annoying to be told by Labour councillors that increased charges have been known about for some years. When concerns were raised previously, we were told that it wasn’t just about putting up prices. I feel that we have been misled.”

“We have previously suggested that a free half-hour could be introduced to aid shoppers who just want to buy a newspaper or a snack, but nothing seems to have come of this. Calderdale Council needs to sort out its parking issues, but at the moment it doesn’t look as if it will”, said Cllr Baker.

Speeding Traffic Letter

The Halifax Courier has today published this letter from Cllr Ashley Evans.

Speeding traffic is causing increasing concern to residents of the Warley ward and I am frequently contacted by people expressing anger and frustration at this dangerous and anti-social behaviour. Through the Ward Forum and other community meetings my colleague James Baker and I have begun to address the problem.

Initially, SID (the Speed Indicator Device) was deployed and, despite its high visibility, it recorded speeds of up to 40mph in the new 20mph zones and speeds over 40mph in 30mph zones. The police, with the help of local residents, seized one Quad Bike and reported the driver. This was a step in the right direction but the dangerous driving continued. James and I decided enough was enough.

I e-mailed the local Police Commander and received a very positive response in under an hour. Senior officers were tasked with dealing with the problem and keeping us informed of actions and results. Extra funding was provided for a targeted operation (covering Warley and other parts of Halifax) that quickly issued 16 fixed penalty notices and seized two expensive and powerful cars – a good start, and well done to all those involved. This increased level of enforcement must be continued and James has written to our Police & Crime Commissioner asking him to make tackling speeding traffic a higher priority in his work and that of the police.

We very much welcome this action but it must be combined with more community-based approaches. The police agree and they intend to tackle the ‘culture’ behind anti-social and dangerous driving through both education and ‘enhanced enforcement’.

We will also support and work with the local Ward Forum Team who wish to set up a Warley Action Group involving the Police, the Fire Service, Road Safety officers, local schools’ representatives and the wider community. We will pass on local views on the success of this.

A combined approach may be the way to tackle this problem and it could be extended across Calderdale.

Cllr Ashley Evans

(Liberal Democrat, Warley Ward)

Speeding Traffic Concerns

PB and SIDResidents’ concerns over speeding motorists in parts of the Greetland and Stainland ward have led to the Speed Indicator Device (SID) being used to get a more accurate picture of the problem.

Cllr Paul Bellenger (Liberal Democrat, Greetland and Stainland) says: “I take these concerns very seriously, so I visited the areas myself to get a clearer indication of which roads were more of a hotspot. I passed this information on to Council officers and requested the deployment of SID, which was set up in Greetland and Sowood on a number of dates during July.”

“The results were very interesting. Having watched SID in action monitoring vehicles we noticed that our perceptions were often very different to the SID results. Vehicles that we thought were travelling way above the speed limit were actually often close to it. What looks like speeding to someone on foot often isn’t.”

“However, the speeds of some motorists in some areas were too great and this information has been passed onto West Yorkshire Police. I hope they will be taking action to bring speeds down to a safe level.”

“Speeding traffic is a concern in many communities and we will continue to work with the Council and the police throughout the ward and do what we can to make it safer” said Paul.

Overgrown vegetation on Churn Lane

Following a few complaints about local residents concerning overgrowing vegetation on Churn Lane I contacted the Highways department. I’m pleased to say they have written to residents with regards to getting some of this vegetation cut back.
Thanks to those of you who live on Churn Lane for helping to cooperate with this, if we keep back any trees and vegetation we might have that overgrows onto paths, lanes and roads then it helps keep things running smoothly.
Further to your e mail regarding overhanging vegetation on Churn Lane 10/09/2015:

We e mailed you in September to let you know that residents had been written too regarding this matter and I can now confirm that we have had contact from two residents who will be beginning the process of clearing vegetation from property which they own, quotes are being obtained and works are being planned.  Second letters have been sent to properties which have not responded.

Our Enforcement Officer continues to monitor the situation.

Update on Brow Foot Gate Lane

Ashley

Lib Dem campaigner Ashley Evans

We have been campaigning for the Council to take action on the traffic problems around Brow Foot Gate Lane for a fair amount of time now. Having continued to raise this issue at various Council meetings it seems we are getting somewhere. Copied below is the latest response we have been given by the Highways Manager at the Council.

Brow Foot Gate Lane is one of the schemes that will be progressed. Owing to the complexity of BFG Lane and the surrounding roads there are likely to be a number of options that will generate local interest and involvement. After discussion with legal colleagues we consider that an experimental traffic regulation order (TRO) would be a good way to identify local concerns and requirements and help in identifying the best solution for everyone in the quickest time.

I have attached a link (http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06013/SN06013.pdf )  to a briefing paper about TROs that includes the following text about experimental TRO’s:

Making an experimental order as a precursor to a permanent order can have material benefits, specifically it can truncate the requirements as to consultation, notice of proposals and objections, providing other requirements have been met (see Regulation 23). This can be a more cost effective and flexible approach (allowing e.g. for immediate feedback and minor changes) than a permanent order or a temporary order

We will need to carry out some feasibility work to identify what the experimental TRO will consist of and carry out technical surveys and consultation. This work has not started yet but I will ask my colleague, Roger Archer-Reeves, to advise you when the feasibility work starts.

Meanwhile we continue to push for small improvements, having requested the Council gets around to repairing the steps at the bottom of Kelvin Avenue, and working to try and get vegetation on Churn Lane cut back.

 

Enforcement of 20mph zones

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A lot of residents in Warley ward are rightly concerned that there is very little enforcement of the new 20mph zone that has been introduced. This is despite an assurance from the Police and Crime Commissioner that these 20mph zones would be enforced.

I’m currently chair of Calderdale Council’s Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel. The Panel, as part of its work programme for 2015/16 has agreed to take a detailed look at the introduction of and the on-going roll-out of 20mph speed limits in the Borough and to hear from Council Officers and other interested parties in this regard. The meeting will be held on Thursday 12th November, 2015 at 6.00pm at Halifax Town Hall.

There will be an opportunity for members of the public to contribute to this meeting with evidence, or examples of their own personal experience. Feel free to turn up to the meeting, or if you can let me know before hand if you are planning on coming along.