28th November 2011 Highways, Crossing and Pavement Issues

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Minutes of General Meeting

Held on 28th November 2011 at 2:30pm
At Wherry Way Communal Room, Caister Road, Great Yarmouth

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting which was attended by 16 Group Members and friends, and guest speakers Carl Dawdry from Norfolk County Council Highways Department, and PCSO Lucy-Jane Shreeve, responsible for the North Yarmouth area.

Apologies were received from Penny Cox, Penny Parker (NCODP), Liz Price, Pat Hoy, Ella Palgrave and Charlie Johnson.

In the autumn of 2011, the Committee carried out a telephone survey of as many VIP User Group Members as possible, to find out whether they had any specific mobility problems caused, for example, by parked cars, lack of pedestrian crossings, overhanging hedges and cyclists on pathways. These concerns were collated and forwarded to Carl Dawdry, Highway Engineer, (Environment, Transport and Development) responsible for the Great Yarmouth area, and John Cotton, Highway Engineer responsible for Gorleston. Mr Dawdry and Mr Cotton responded in writing to each of the issues raised, and Mr Dawdry attended the VIP User Group meeting to explain the Highways Department policies and to answer questions about specific problems.

In introducing Mr Dawdry, the Chairman drew attention to the good news that barriers had been installed at the junction of King Street with Yarmouth Way. This was part of the St George’s redevelopment project overseen by David Wardale at County Hall. The barriers were something which Penny had campaigned for, and although it was a temporary measure during the development of the St George’s site, the Group agreed that this was a very positive and much needed improvement to a dangerous crossing area. The hoardings had been removed outside Christchurch, leaving no clearly defined pavement.

Maureen told the meeting of a very positive and quick response to her complaint about overgrowing weeds along a footpath in the area of Newton Cross and Bridge Street. Whilst out with her Guide Dog trainer, progress was impeded by part of the footpath being overgrown with weeds. Following a complaint to the Council, the path was very quickly cleared.

By way of introduction, Mr Dawdry explained that he had worked with NCC Highways for 27 years, and was responsible for inspecting highways in the Great Yarmouth area, assessing needs, responding to complaints and requests and prioritizing them. Mr Cotton did a similar job in Gorleston.

There was no provision for new crossings in the current NCC budget or that for the next financial year, and there was already a backlog of improvements to be carried out when the financial climate improved. Mr Dawdry said that there were two main types of crossing, the very costly controlled crossing, and the lower cost dropped-kerb crossing. There were currently 121 outstanding crossing projects requiring detailed assessments, for which there was no funding. An average of 2-6 sites are assessed each year. In the last financial year there had been fewer than 10 new crossings provided throughout the whole of Norfolk.

Crossings

Ron and Darren were concerned about the lack of a pedestrian crossing on North Denes Road. Ron felt that money had been wasted on providing a new pavement on Kitchener Road, which he considered to be unnecessary, whilst the need for a safe crossing remained unresolved.

Mr Dawdry reiterated that at present there were no funds available, but it would remain on the list of plans for consideration, although provision of additional crossings was largely based on accident statistics. The meeting felt that it was unreasonable to wait until a death or serious injury occurred before action could be taken.

Lack of pedestrian crossings on Marine Parade at Gorleston, to enable safe access to the beach and promenade. Mr Cotton reported that there are several lowered kerb crossings along Marine Parade, some with with H bar markings along the edge of the carriageway to stop parking in front of them. There are no plans to install further crossings as both traffic and pedestrian volumes are relatively low. On behalf of members of the bowling club, Shaun pointed out that the road between the Bridge Road junction and the bowling green which was used regularly by blind and visually impaired people in summer months, was very wide, cars travelled very quickly along that stretch, and cars parked on either side of the dropped kerbs prevented people knowing whether there was traffic coming until they were already on the road. Maureen agreed that crossing to Gorleston beach was a nightmare, even with a guide dog.

Pat, who was unable to be at the meeting, had expressed concerns about pedestrian safety when crossing Middleton Road at Gorleston, the A12 and the main access to the James Paget Hospital. Mr Cotton had reported that an assessment on Middleton Road completed in 2003 as part of a “Safer and Healthier Journeys to School” Scheme deemed that this was poor value for money.

Maggie said that there had been near-misses on the crossing in Gorleston High Street, and suggested that the road markings needed repainting. Mr Dawdry said that repainting took place in the Spring and Summer months, and faded quite quickly.

Linda had identified a need for a crossing on Admiralty Road in Yarmouth, at the Barrack Road/Barkis Road junction. Because of a high density of traffic, visibility was very poor at this junction, which was crossed regularly by children.

Ian Hardy said that although the safest crossing was undoubtedly the costly controlled crossing with lights, the Group needed to think more in terms of how they could cross safely at the present time and in the current financially difficult times, weighing up the relative cost to the level of use. This might, for instance, be achieved by adapting long canes to be seen better by passing motorists and by making more use of reflective clothing or arm bands. Judy said that she used the crossing by the Magdalen Way shops 4-5 times a week and rarely experienced any difficulties, and found that the public were generally very happy to help her cross the road. She urged Members to try be more flexible, and also to remember the intended purpose of the Mobility Allowance.

Parking Problems

Linda outlined a long history of problems with lorries parking outside her home in Barrack Road. There were no yellow lines, and because it bordered the industrial area of town, many lorries parked there overnight. Although it was a one-way street, the one-way signs were obscured by parked lorries, and the road was frequently blocked by traffic trying to travel in both directions down the road. The amount of heavy traffic had caused pot-holes to appear in the road. Her wall had been knocked down twice; lorries parking overnight prevented residents with cars from parking near their homes, and noise from engines being warmed up in the early hours disturbed residents’ sleep. Linda and her son had sought help from the Highways Department, the Police and Brandon Lewis MP, but no-one seemed to want to take responsibility for resolving this problem. There was a plot of privately-owned waste land nearby, and Linda wondered whether this could be made into a lorry park. Mr Dawdry said there were no proposed changes to lining at this time, and changes were generally only promoted if the accident record justified it. David said he would see if the Group could lend any support to help Linda resolve this problem.

Pat Hoy, who was not at the meeting had complained that the post box at the corner of Warren Lane in Gorleston was often blocked by parked cars. Mr Cotton suggested that the actual location of this was at The Fairway, off Links Road, and that if access was obstructed by a parked vehicle this should be reported to the police.

Kate had expressed concern about cars parked on the road next to Palmer’s car park. Mr Dawdry commented that although there are yellow lines here, blue badge holders are entitled to park on them. If, however, cars were parked illegally this would be a Borough Council enforcement issue. From the beginning of November, there were now Parking Attendants working in the Borough, and parking offences would no longer be dealt with by the police.

The police would continue to deal with obstruction issues. PCSO Shreeve said that cars causing obstructions could be reported to the police either on the 101 non-emergency telephone number, via herself or the local PCSO Gary who made regular visits to the NNAB offices on Hall Quay, and the information would be passed on to the appropriate teams for investigation. Nelly said that Neighbourhood Management Teams were also willing to help or take action if required.

Tactile Paving and Dropped Kerbs

Ron had asked for dropped kerbs to be provided on the seaward side of North Denes Road, and for raised pavements at bus stops to be made more visible. Mr Dawdry said that tactile paving would not be put in unless done as part of a major footway refurbishment scheme.

Tim was concerned about the lack of dropped kerbs at the junctions of Branford Road and Braddock Road with Ormesby Road at Caister. There was no tactile paving on Ormesby Road, and the lack of dropped kerbs made it very difficult for buggies and mobility scooters to cross the road. There were several visually impaired people in Caister. Mr Dawdry said it would be useful to arrange an on-site meeting with Tim, so he could see exactly where the problem areas were.

Dennis was concerned about the crossing outside the Apollo Tavern on Northgate Street. David would set up an on-site meeting with Mr Dawry and Dennis to look at this problem.

David voiced concerns about crossing North Drive from Jellicoe Road. Mr Dawdry said the Highways could provide an additional dropped kerb crossing just west of the existing crossing which is right on the junction, but would need to know if there is sufficient demand and what the particular hazard there was.

John had reported that the place he would like to see a dropped kerb is at the junction of Bunniwell Avenue and Oriel Avenue. There is a dropped kerb on Bunniwell Avenue about 200 metres down the hill, which is the only safe place to cross but which then necessitates a long walk of a further 200 metres back up the hill on the other side.

Ian Hardy said that dropped kerbs were provided as a relatively cheap option on crucial routes, and the more expensive tactile paving was intended specifically to identify and warn blind and visually impaired people of crossing points. Tim said that guide dogs were taught to seek out tactile paving, but this was no longer feasible if there was no tactile paving being used.

Dangerous Surfaces

Tim highlighted the very uneven surface between St Hilda’s Road and the bus stop in Caister, and Mr Dawdry agreed to investigate this during his site visit with Tim.

Louise had drawn attention to the newly-tarmaced surface at Beccles Road in Bradwell. The finish around the kerb edges and drains was very sloppy, and she wondered who was responsible for checking the standard of finish.
Mr Cotton had asked for more details of the exact location in question, bearing in mind the length of Beccles Road. The particular problem areas were near Wroughton School, near to the Tesco Express and at the junction of Crab Lane and Mallard Way at Lynn Grove.

Pat was concerned about an area of rough ground outside the flats on Warren Lane, and Links Road, which she felt need to be surfaced for ease of access. Mr Cotton asked for more details of the exact location, which he assumed was the flats on Links Road opposite Joshua Court, in which case the slabbed footways had been included in a Structural Maintenance programme. All such projects were reviewed annually and those with the highest score submitted for funding. Unfortunately the programmes are full until 2014/15.

Other Concerns

Maureen and Pat reported overgrown hedges at the entrance to Crow Hall Green from Lowestoft Road at Gorleston. Mr Cotton said that this was the responsibility of individual property owners, and he had asked his Highway Inspector to contact them.

Maureen said that the locksmith on King Street in Great Yarmouth frequently had an ‘A’ board obstructing the pavement.

Tim reported that overgrown hedges on Ormesby Road between Webster Way and Branford Way caused problems for both guide dogs and owners. Also there were bushes outside the Roman Catholic church at Caister which had grown out of hand. In both instances it was advisable to find out who the owners were, and to write to them, and if this did not bring results, to inform Norfolk County Council who would then take action and recoup the cost from the owners.

Pat said that a “doggie rubbish” bin was needed on Warren Lane near to the steps up from the beach area at Gorleston. Ian Hardy agreed to take this up with colleagues at the Borough Council on behalf of the Group.

Kate had highlighted the danger of mobility scooters being driven too fast and apparently oblivious to the presence of pedestrians on pavements. This was particularly hazardous for blind and visually impaired people. Inappropriate use of mobility scooters was a police concern. PCSO Shreeve reported that the police ran training days, and encouraged those selling the scooters to provide basic training and education, but this was not compulsory. The problem for the police was catching offenders in the act.

One of those who took part in the telephone survey had reported that a car was regularly parked outside and facing a garage door and overhanging the pavement at Station Road, Southtown. This was classed as obstruction and would have to be dealt with by the police.

David thanks Mr Dawdry and PCSO Shreeve for coming to the meeting and for their support.

Any Other Business.

On Thursday 28th November at 2.30pm there was to be a consultation meeting at Christchurch between the Disability Forum and the Borough Council. Members were invited to attend.

David had provisionally invited Tracey Jones and Rob Gregory from the Borough Council to speak to the Group, and also had it in mind to invite a speaker from Trading Standards to talk to the Group about loan sharks.

It was proposed to carry out another telephone survey in January, about the service provided by the Borough Council, and accessibility issues.

Liz (NNAB) reminded the Group about special outings being organised by Door-to-Door – details would be shared through Grapevine, or by contacting Wendy or Liz.

Wendy said she had a number of NNAB raffle tickets for sale. She also reminded members of the Buffet Lunch on 13th December at 12.30 at NNAB. Cost £8 per head. Please bring wrapped raffle prizes.

Nelly said she had been pleased to see in the Great Yarmouth Mercury that the VIP Group had been represented at the meeting at the Town Hall for disabled people to comment on the newly revamped public areas.

Shaun had received an email from Sandy Griffiths, the NHS liaison officer who had been dealing with access issues at the new Shrublands Health Centre, including a safe road crossing, and the internal structure, including unmarked glass doors. The Group’s comments had been passed to the architect.

Penny Parker (NCODP) was unable to attend the meeting but wished all members a Happy Christmas and a reminder of the confidence building workshop on 8th December at Stoke Holy Cross.

The FairFares Campaign was proceeding, and would be enhanced if more people signed the petition for a return to the former extended hours for blind and visually impaired people to use public transport. Chris would meeting Norfolk County Council to put the NNAB case.

The next meeting would be on Monday, 30th January 2012 at 2pm at Wherry Way.

In closing the meeting, David again thanked Mr Dawdry and PCSO Shreeve, and also thanked Nelly Adhiambo and Ian Hardy for their support.

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