There has been a lot happening this month, with a Full Council and the Place Committee meeting. I’ll discuss issues in the order they came up in meeting agendas- so sorry if this is a bit of a hotch potch of stories! (If you are wondering, the image is to illustrate that 2023 is the year of the rabbit).
An update was given to the Place Committee. It had been instigated by the ‘under new management’ Tory administration after the election in 2021. The predictable conclusion can be summarized as ‘the previous Tory administration wasn’t spending enough money’. It is amazing what some money can do- they now have double the number of teams out which has allowed them to double productivity per team! They are no longer using as much short-term patching which will hopefully result in longer lasting fixes.
However, I remain concerned about the safety aspects of the review. The numbers of deaths on our local roads have fallen over the last 10 years or so which is obviously very good, and I am sure that the work that Via does on pedestrian and driver training has contributed to that decrease. However, I am also sure that people are more scared of the roads now, so that children aren’t playing out and people aren’t walking as much as they were in the past which will also have impacted on the data. The census data (Number of cars or vans – Census Maps, ONS) was released this year shows that in some parts of Mansfield more than 70% of households do not own a car. Overall of England 33% of households have no car and 40% of households have only one car. Are some of these pedestrians feeling trapped by the traffic? Anyone who tries to cross the London Road at the junction with Wilford Lane, or Radcliffe Road at the junction with Lady Bay Bridge probably does.
Sadly, I feel there is a bit of a defeatist attitude to doing much beyond training- it seems a problem can be identified for every solution suggested! A year ago, the council passed the motion I brought to have 20 mph limits in residential areas, but nothing seems to have changed. Just before Christmas I went to London and discovered that apparently all of inner London has a 20 mph limit, from Park Lane and Vauxhall Bridge to the back streets of Camberwell. If it’s good enough for London why isn’t it good enough for us? Reducing speed not only reduces the risk of accidents but it also reduces air pollution from engines and wheels. One of the arguments that has been made against reduced speed limits is that it doesn’t make much different, the average speed has only been found to drop by a few miles per hour in trial area. First of all, the ‘average’ can hide a lot (It could be that the average goes down a little because a few very fast drivers stop speeding) and in any case, I don’t think a small trial area that people drive in and out of is a proper trial.
The good news is that I have been offered the chance to do a 20 mph trial in our area (more on this later) and in the meantime, I am going to use some of my divisional funds to pay for an extra tree to be put in on Davies Road as I hope that will help slow speeds (by making it feel less like a major road).
In even better news, Notts County Council will be applying for powers to enforce moving traffic offences, so for instance our local Parking Attendants will be able to issue tickets for people who drive down Central Avenue. If you see a Parking Attendant say hello to them- they are the front line of road safety and they have a hard job.
Take away deliveries
Whilst we are on traffic, anyone in Lady Bay will have noticed that having 5 take aways (including the coop) within 50 m on a residential street is a recipe for traffic disaster. It seems that in the City takeaway deliveries are done by bike, and friends tell me there are few deliveries in places like Bingham. It seems that car deliveries are a particular problem in West Bridgford and I would be interested to know where those deliveries are going to.
We might wonder how the Highways Authority (County) and Rushcliffe Planning ever thought this density of take aways was acceptable, but we are where we are.
The police have been really responsive, checking speeds, and warning the outlets about parking. The Traffic Enforcement officers have also been around and I have asked them particularly to come in the evenings.
Via run driver training for young people, and some professional driver groups, and I have asked them to provide some for takeaway delivery drivers.
If nothing improves I will be asking for some bollards on the corners to stop pavement parking on the double yellow lines.
Let me know if this is a problem elsewhere (I know about the entrance to Marlborough Court and complain about that periodically!). Please send photos me and I’ll forward them to Via and the Police.
Come on you Reds! Forest fans welcome here- without their cars!
I love the buzz around the City ground when Forest are playing at home. I enjoy hearing the cheers from my front room on a winter’s nights and I find myself joining in with Mull of Kintyre from my back garden on warmer days. I can’t pretend to know a lot about football, but I have become a Forest fan- who wouldn’t be with a great club on our doorstep?
But sadly, not everyone appreciates home games. Many fans come by bus or walk, but some drive and when they arrive, they find they can’t park, which must be frustrating. They end up driving round and round looking for somewhere to stop, increasing noise, air pollution, congestion and the risk of accidents. We end up with cars parked on double yellow lines, across people’s drives and on pavements. Sadly some residents dread home games.
But it isn’t just bad for residents, it’s also bad for fans and businesses. Bus companies schedules are broken by delays, and they are worried that someone is going to be injured due to a lack of marshalling of pedestrians on Trent Bridge. Taxis drivers have complained about being threatened by both passengers and residents.
Some of the measures being taken are frankly insulting to residents. As you may – or may not – know, Lady Bay Bridge is closed about 15 minutes after the final whistle to help fans to leave the ground. But residents are given no forewarning! I am aware of people who have diverted via Gunthorpe Bridge as they didn’t realise what was happening. Surely it would be possible to put up sign at the south End of Lady Bay Bridge Road announcing the date and time of the next match?
Meanwhile residents right next to the City Ground are unable to move their cars around match times, as gates are closed across the roads for security reasons. They can get a permit to allow them to get out in an emergency but they are expected to pay for it, despite the fact they already have residents’ parking permits! Why aren’t they given these for free?
So what can be done?
I am struggling to get the Notts County Council Cabinet Member responsible for transport (Cllr Clarke) to engage with me on this matter. I asked a question about this at the November meeting, I took a petition signed by more than 200 residents to the January meeting (it’s not too late to sign). I’m thinking about how to raise this at the next meeting but in the meantime there are some obvious things to try.
First during a match Notts County Council only has 4 parking enforcement officers to patrol the whole area until 9 pm. Notts County Council should double the number of traffic enforcement officers on duty during the matches?
Around Arsenal there is a Controlled Parking Zone, just for residents, although residents do need to buy a parking permit if they don’t have one already.
In other Cities the fans park away from the club, why can’t that happen here? We have several Park and Rides locally and we also have a number of large car parks in the City and an amazing bus service over Trent Bridge. Why don’t the councils, Club and bus companies get together to include Park and Ride in the cost of the tickets?
Some people have said residents knew what they were getting into when they moved in. Well first, this isn’t true: many people moved here when the traffic was much less of a problem. But in any case, why wouldn’t we want to make this work for everyone, so that all residents can feel excited when a match is on and fans can go away with great memories of our area, not irritated by our roads?
It is wonderful that Forest and the Cricket club are putting West Bridgford on the map and bringing people to Nottingham from all over the world. I want world class sport supported by fantastic bars and cafes and world class transport networks for fans and residents.
Household waste has been ignored by the Tory Government as they have been distracted by one scandal or crisis after another. They had promised councils new legislation and guidance, but the councils are in limbo waiting for clear plans.
Data taken to Place committee showed that unfortunately recycling rates have fallen slightly in Rushcliffe (though we still are the lead recyclers in the County). There is an ambition to do better still but that would be easier with national constraints on packaging.
We need to see the different ‘energy from waste’ methods of disposal separated so we can understand how much is going to incineration. We can all agree rubbish in ground in landfill is bad, but I think that if we don’t want rubbish in the air either.
I am also on a working group looking at concessionary fares. Outside London and Manchester the councils have virtually no control over the bus companies, and they can do little more than negotiate with them. However, Notts County Council continue to invest in the buses and are looking at how to ensure the concessionary fares are available to those who need them.
The bus market is still recovering after the pandemic, probably because of people working from home. This is leading to a reduction in buses running, and you can see how this can easily lead to a vicious circle of decline. So.. use your bus or loose it!
The Conservative Leadership of Nottinghamshire County Council have decided to sell off County Hall. They say the building is in need of refurbishment, and so this will save £50M in 10 years. But they haven’t justified this figure and they haven’t explained how much they will have to spend on extending the new building at Top Wighay, nor how much would be spent running Top Wighay over that period.
Obviously, you would expect me to want County Hall to remain on the Trent as it is in my division. But I am not alone: other councillors like it because of its transport links.
I’m not saying we don’t need change. When I became a councillor, I was shocked to realise that residents don’t get a chance to visit County Hall these days (it didn’t use to be this way), and clearly some of the remaining 1970s blocks need to be demolished. And given the demolition of the old blocks there is plenty of room on the site to build sustainable, affordable and social housing.
But once it is sold it is gone for good. They are using assets created by and for the people of Nottinghamshire to cover up budget problems caused by the Tory government.
Again, there are solutions. At the January Full Council Meeting we discussed the draft County Visitor Economy Strategy. It didn’t seem very ambitious, with a goal of just wanting to put us back where we were before the pandemic. But the discussion was fascinating… I learnt a lot about Nottinghamshire.
But of course, there’s a lot to see in West Bridgford, and Forest, Notts County Cricket Club, Notts County and the Water Sports Centre bring many people here.
Why not turn some of County Hall into a museum of sport that can allow people to make a day out of coming to a fixture and also showcase other visitor attractions in Nottinghamshire? Families could try goal scoring or cricket nets in the space around the building, and the building could include a conference Centre and hotel, as well as Council Offices.
Cared for children
One of the most important duties of a councillor is that of being a corporate parent with the Council. This means taking responsibility for ensuring that children in the care of the council are being looked after well, and being given the same opportunities as all other children.
Terry Galloway has been tirelessly campaigning for councils to treat cared for children as if they had a protected characteristic. A motion was brought to the council (2 hours 10 mins in) following a structure which he has successfully had passed at many other councils around the country. Therefore, it was surprising when it became clear from the stony faces opposite that the Tories were being whipped to vote the motion down. I won’t go into all the arguments, but I am delighted to say that in the end sense prevailed, they U-turned and supported a motion with a very minor amendment.
I plan to take a similar motion to Rushcliffe next month.
The next motion concerned Fracking. Again, after a bit of fuss and bother, the Tory group decided to support a motion that committed the Council to not support any fracking activities on any land it owns on controls.
There were other motions brought including an important one on social care, but I will talk about them next month when hopefully they will have been heard.
2 thoughts on “A busy start to the 2023”
Well done Penny,keep up the good workeddiepeter41@ gmail.com
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Thanks the you, Penny, for your enthusiastic and tireless work. Your investment in serving the community is outstanding.
Every good wish to you for continuing your work in 2023.