Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon Learn more

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Bassingbourn report

 

Bassingbourn Parish Council Februrary 2018 – County Councillor Report

School Crossing:  James Hockley and I have again met the Road Safety engineer who has recorded a number of possible measures that could mitigate safety concerns at the school crossing point on the High St/Brook Rd/South End junction.  I have attached his comments to the end of my report.  The basic principle is a scheme consisting of a number of measures.  Funding wise, these would amount to more than what an LHI could cover.  I have an appointment next week to speak to the council about the possible inclusion of a Bassingbourn scheme on Highways’ medium/long-term project lists, depending of course on what the village and parish council would wish to support.  It could be a combination of funding sources would be needed to fund a scheme.

Greenways Consultation – cycle paths:  ‘Greenways’ seeks to create a multitude of walking/cycling corridors linking up villages and Cambridge – not necessarily contingent on travel to work but rather building up a network for general use.  I’ve suggested that links to Royston need to be included in order to meet people’s everyday needs in the south of the district. There is every opportunity to help shape thinking. There is a consultation event on Jan 25, 5:30-8:00, at the Melbourn Hub (plus others: 30 Jan, 6-8PM, Coton Village Hall; 1 Feb, 5:30-8:00PM, Trumpington Meadows Primary School.)  You can also respond on line: Google ‘Greater Cambridge Partnership Greenways.’

Budget preparations: The council needs to cut £37.9M from its budget for next year, in addition to addressing the current level of overspending. Committees have received proposals for achieving these reductions, but even if all these were to be agreed, £4.3M of savings are still to be identified.   Meanwhile, in a comparison with 26 other similar English counties, Cambridgeshire stands out for its two years’ council tax freeze.  This has had a cumulative impact on base council tax and makes pressures on funding public services that much more challenging.  Just before Christmas Government signalled that a general council tax rise of 3% would be permitted.  The Council’s Budget meeting is on February 6th.

Shire Hall move: A County Council working party is working on proposals to move the council’s HQ out of Shire Hall in Cambridge which is expensive to maintain. Options it is developing for alternative new premises are Alconbury and Northstowe.  With the new Mayor having proposed to review local government arrangements in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, however, it is not clear that there will continue to be a County Council.

Bus consultation extension:   As you know the County Council has been running a consultation on the 127/128 bus; this has now been extended to the end of January.   The proposed changes, which include amalgamating the two routes and bringing Bassingbourn and Meldreth circuits into one, come at the initiative of the operator, and the consultation is being supported by the Cam Vale Bus User Group. Funding is secure until September; the February budget council meeting will determine whether or not that is extended.

Children’s Centre service changes:  I continue to ask the County Council for details of changes that local families can expect from April 1st when the £900K reduction is spending takes effect.  To date I have no new information for arrangements in Bassingbourn, but have a meeting this week and hope to learn something.

Recycling: Visit to Waterbeach Waste Management Park: To find out more about the current state of recycling, especially bearing in mind the many questions asked about the end of the paper caddy and the announcement by China and Hong Kong that they will no longer take UK plastic waste, I’ve liaised with the Park to arrange two open-day visits, the first of which is designed to coincide with half-term:  15 February, either 10-12AM or 2-4PM; and 27 February, 10-12AM.

Invitation: Be a Councillor?  I have booked the Elin Way Meldreth Community Room on Saturday 3 February, 3-5 PM, for an open-house type event:  this is intended as an informal occasion for residents in our general area to chat with past and present councillors at parish, district and county levels, to learn more about what the role might entail.

 

School Crossing notes from Road Safety Engineer:

We had previously discussed the difficulty in providing a controlled crossing on the north-south pedestrian desire line across the Brook Rd (High St end) between North End and South End. This is primarily due to lack of forward visibility through the bend that would reduce conspicuity of any signal and the requirement to vehicular access to properties on the north eastern corner.

 

When we met on site recently,  we discussed measures that may be appropriate to reduce traffic speeds at peak times when school children will also be regularly crossing.

 

Give way features  close to the crossing point would be difficult to site due to the limitations of visibility along the road, although they could be considered as part of a larger system of features where they could potentially be placed at more suitable locations further from the bend.

 

We discussed that on street parking could be used to reduce speeds. At the moment, parking appears to be extensively located on the northern side of High Street. While consideration should be given to residents desire to park close to their properties and avoiding unnecessary crossing when visiting shops, there is a possibility that parking restrictions in this area could be modified to break up traffic flow and reduce speeds.

 

We looked at the feasibility of constructing a junction table at the junction of High St/ Brook Rd and South End, where ramps could be constructed on each approach to the junction with a level platform being provided over the road surface in between. Potentially, different surface materials/treatments may be used which can provide a change in character as well as the physical calming measure of the ramps. Providing a table here would have some engineering difficulty; conventionally such features are 75mm high, with an upstand at the kerb faces of 25mm to channel water to gullies and provide guidance to visually impaired pedestrians. The existing kerb height is possibly less than 75mm in places, which would either require amendments to footway levels, potentially compromise damp proof courses on adjacent properties, or reducing the height of the table, possibly to 50mm, which is likely to reduce effectiveness of table in respect to speed reduction. We have not constructed these features recently, but would anticipate costs to be in the region of £25,000 to £35,000. This will obstruct drainage channels and effect of the movement of surface water depending upon the profile of the road; Costs can therefore be difficult to predict as unforeseen costs for connection of new gullies into existing drainage systems could substantially change those indicated.

 

We discussed that flat topped humps on the approaches to the desired crossing point may be more feasible than a table in construction terms as they would have less effect on footway levels. Since this is a bus route, a 6m long hump would be required to minimise passenger discomfort. I am awaiting confirmation of currents costs for such feature, but would anticipate something in the region of £10-12,000 each. These again would bear the risk of additional costs due to drainage requirements.

 

Traffic calming tends to be more effective where a series of features are used on approach to the location  where lower speeds are desired. To effect a speed reduction over an area, you would expect to have features approximately every 70m, although this could include natural features such as bends.

Flat topped humps could be supported in advance by other physical features such as cushions (raised pads in the centre of the traffic lane). While cushions can be less effective that full width humps (because of the ability of some wider vehicles to span them), they can be placed in a way that requires drivers to check there speed to ensure alignment over them and can still be quite effective. The main advantage of cushions is that they do not obstruct drainage and would therefore be easier to locate on site. Typical cost for construction would be £3000 per pair.

 

In addition to the costs above, you would also need to consider any lighting requirements; It is essential that the features are clearly visible during dark conditions. If the existing lighting is new and the features well placed, additional lighting could be minimal, but you need to be aware of the risk to scheme cost. Signs will also be required on each approach or joining road. at around £250 each.

 

It is not ideal to have physical features located close to bus stops as pedestrians are more likely to be standing after boarding or before alight the bus, and risk falling injury if jolted by crossing a hump. We discussed that it may be possible to relocate the bus stop, although this would incur additional cost, especially if the shelter is to be relocated.

 

Formal consolation is required for the implementation of road  humps and I would strongly recommend early consultation with adjacent properties before any scheme is progressed. Physical traffic calming features are not always popular as they can generate noise when vehicles cross them (especially empty lorries) and are sometimes accused of causing ground born vibration and even damage to adjacent properties (usually when located close to older properties with shallow foundations). We have had situations recently where cushions have been requested but subsequently removed after local complaints, so great care is required in their placement.

 

A fairly straight forward issue we discussed was the possibility of increasing the available footway on the south western radius of the South End junction. This could help accommodate waiting pedestrians on the existing desire line. Feasibility of this may be confirmed by checking swept path movements of the type of vehicles required to use this junction on existing mapping. Any reducing the radius of the kerb line would result in wider pavements. It may also be beneficially to look at the eastern radius at the same time as tightening this could help reduce entry speeds into the junction. While feasibility should be relatively easy, it is likely that an accurate topographical survey would be required of the road layout before detailed design could be undertaken.

 

The elements described above would clearly put any scheme outside of the scope of a LHI, so I would suggest speaking to Andy Preston regarding the potential for considering this from other funding streams.