Inside the Council: Speed is vital for road safety plan

20mph sign in Garstang
20mph sign in Garstang

From Foxcroft to Field Lane, Lords Lane to Longroyde, Carr Green to Close Lea, you don’t have to look far in Rastrick to find parking, speeding and other highways issues.

The Rastrick Big Local consultation to date bears out people’s real concerns about safety and transport, as do the Ward Forums and my case load as a councillor. Rastrick residents contact me almost every week about existing or new areas of concern with the same true for my ward colleagues, as well for Brighouse and Hipperholme and Lightcliffe wards.

I was incredulous to discover on becoming a councillor three years ago that we had no parking policy in Calderdale which effectively meant that little or no progress could be made with any new schemes. Then incredibly frustrated to find it taking three years before we even had a policy in place.

No wonder then that we now have in excess of 140 outstanding requests for parking restrictions across the borough for officers to review.

If only it was a matter of painting new lines! Unfortunately, as ever, things aren’t that simple. Implementing Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) is a legal process apparently costing between £3,000 and £5,000 with local consultation clearly being a vital part.

‘Blanket’ schemes such as the introduction of 20mph around all schools or residential areas can be implemented as a single TRO and so bring significant savings.

Your local Conservative councillors are currently surveying your views on 20mph areas and are receiving an excellent response, and welcome more.

The Highways department are currently developing a scoring matrix and once it’s agreed by cabinet all requests on the waiting list will be looked at against this prioritisation system.

It will take into account the number of people affected, 
the location and type of road affected, the impact on the 
local economy, safety implications, any accident records and the wider effect of any changes.

Once all requests have been assessed, work will begin to programme the highest priority schemes into the 2014/2015 programme of works, providing funding is available.

Fair in principal – but again a frustratingly lengthy process. Experiencing daily issues around parking for instance is bad enough, but there is public safety at stake here in many of these outstanding cases.

It will be our group’s priority to do all we can to ensure funding is indeed available and that Rastrick, Brighouse, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe’s most pressing highways issues are addressed as soon as feasible.

An unusual invitation............

Not a stranger to unusual invitations as a Councillor … but a ‘Speed Matching Event’ was somewhat more intriguing than most!

Turned out to be a great evening in the company of new Rastrick High School Head Teacher Steve Evans, ‘selling’ the virtues of Rastrick to (hopefully) persuade representatives from the businesses present to help us make Rastrick an even better place by volunteering their time and skills in our area.

Like many other households, we’re enjoying the insight into secondary school education provided by the current channel 4 series ‘Educating Yorkshire’, and seeing the fascinating leadership-style of the head teacher and its impact on the school.

Whilst Mr Evans has the unenviable challenge of following in the footsteps of the well-respected Mrs Helen Lennie, his enthusiasm and passion for ‘Educating Rastrick’ shone through - and it’s re-assuring to feel that our secondary pupils are in great hands with Mr Evans and his team.

Feedback on feedback

Last year the Council’s Preferred Options for its Core Strategy – the plan for future development in Calderdale - were available for comment between October and December.

It was proposed that 10,500 new homes were needed throughout Calderdale by 2029, aside from the 6,300 already in the planning process. 2,100 were proposed for greater Brighouse ie including Rastrick, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe.

1,200 individual comments were received and have now been published along with officers’ responses.

Anyone wishing to view these can now do so on the Council website (search ‘consultation preferred options’) or at Libraries, Council Customer First Offices or the Planning Offices in Halifax.

By Councillor Christine Beal