Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Local Politicians Working Together Shocker

For those of you who think local politicians spend all their time criticising each other, I bring news of the Guided Bus southern liaison meeting last week, when Councillors and residents got to grill the heads of the Guided Bus project from the County Council and from the contractors Nuttells. I attended, along with one of our three Labour Councillors (and it always seems to be the same one at these types of meetings - where are the other two? Ooops, I digress...). It has to be said, we again found ourselves in agreement about the management of the Roadworks on Hills Road.

We shared significant concerns about the way Hills Road roadworks are being managed, particularly at the times of single lane working.

The message back was that this operation had been reviewed, they were trying to manage the traffic as best they can, and nothing more can be done. The problem is a health and safety risk raised at a late stage by the piling contractors - despite protection of the equipment, there is a risk of material from the drilling falling onto vehicles on the neighbouring carriageway when drilling is taking place, so at these times the bridge has to be reduced to single lane working.

Local Councillors are heavily dependent on the advice of experts in this situation, but looking at the traffic chaos that occurs at the Cherry Hinton Road junction when there is single lane working, the illegal and dangerous turning manouevres in Homerton Street and the unequal traffic flows from Hills Road and Cherry Hinton Road, we just weren't convinced that more couldn't be done. I'm also sceptical that the overall approach to risk management is very sensible - focusing on a minute risk with limited damage if it goes wrong and causing choas as a result, and ignoring the dangerous pothole in the middle of the Brooklands Avenue junction that has been reported repeatedly for weeks and the crazy driving by some people.

As a result of the meeting:
  • The officers are going to look again at traffic management during single lane working.
  • We are going to request a meeting with a senior police officer to find out why repeated requests for police enforcement action have been ignored.
There are two more spells of single lane working - one from now for a few days, and a further period of 10-14 days towards the end of September. Work on the station forecourt will begin in Autumn 2008 - this could cause some problems there as the short stay car parking will need to be moved. Roll on completion of the project in 2009!

One of the benefits of electing a Conservative Councillor in May was that Labour Councillors are having to raise their game from the complacency of the last 20 years, so it should be a good time for residents to get things done around the ward. Whilst I think many of Labour's policies generally are a disaster for Coleridge (like forcing housing targets and planning policies on us, and trying to blackmail the County Council into accepting congestion charging), there are a number of local ward issues where Coleridge Councillors from different parties agree - lets hope we can continue to work together for local residents in these cases.

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