Venue: Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham, RG40 1BN
Contact: Anne Hunter Service Manager, Democratic Services
To receive any apologies for absence
An apology for absence was submitted from Councillor Charlotte Haitham Taylor.
Councillor Richard Dolinski, Deputy Executive Member for Children’s Services, attended the meeting on behalf of Councillor Haitham Taylor. In accordance with legislation Councillor Dolinski could take part in any discussions but was not entitled to vote.
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest received.
Public Question Time
To answer any public questions
A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.
The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the item included within this Agenda.
Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can only relate to the item which is on the Agenda for this meeting. For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact Democratic Services on the numbers listed below or go to www.wokingham.gov.uk/publicquestions
In accordance with the agreed procedure the Chairman invited members of the public to submit questions to the appropriate Members.
Pam Stubbs asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question:
A consultation on speed limit changes was initiated by a householder letter on 25thJuly and the last date for comments was 18th August. Barkham Parish Council, who were not consulted, feel that this TRO is not satisfactory and that since the changes are due to the new school complex, Bearwood Road (within Barkham), Barkham Street and Langley Common Road should be considered as part of this TRO.
The School is due to open in a matter of days and we are bewildered by the fact that no thought was given to this until July and also why the Traffic Management Team will not meet with the Parish Council to discuss their proposals until the end of September, when, presumably their changes will already be in place.
Barkham Street and Bearwood Road (the section within Barkham and north of The Lilacs) are considered to be outside of the defined walked routes associated with access improvements to the new Bohunt School. Reducing the speed limit to 30mph on Langley Common Road was considered and formed part of the proposed speed limit reductions review in accordance with the Department for Transport Circular 01/2013 “Setting Local Speed Limits”. Unfortunately the outcome of the review was that the speed limit reduction to 30pmh could not be introduced as it did not meet the required criteria and therefore is not currently supported by Thames Valley Police; who are responsible for enforcement of speed limits.
I confirm the formal consultation on the proposed TRO, to reduce speed limits on three sections of roads, commenced on 25th July 2016. This consultation included a letter drop to all residents on each of the roads, notices on streets, adverts in the local newspaper and on the Council website. E-mails were also sent to affected parish councils including Barkham Parish Council via an address which has since unfortunately transpired to be out of date and for this we apologise. However Barkham Parish did become aware of the consultation and the Council received and considered their response as part of the overall 43 received. I confirm also that Barkham Parish Council’s response has been fully considered and is included in the Executive report scheduled for tonight.
The statement that the Council had not given this any thought until July 2016 is incorrect. Discussions with the Project Team, Parents Reference Group and the Council’s Education Team have been ongoing since December 2015 and in addition a number of these highway issues and concerns were discussed directly with Barkham Parish Council during a meeting with Highways Officers in May 2016. The reason the Traffic Management Team have declined to meet with Barkham Parish Council again before the end of September is because the Team have been prioritising the three speed limit reductions proposed in the Executive report, that met the “Setting Local Speeds” Department for Transport review criteria, and which were supported by Thames Valley Police plus other measures associated with access improvements to the new Bohunt ... view the full minutes text for item 42.1
Bernie Waters asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question:
The response from Barkham Parish Council stated they would like to see the extent of the proposed 30mph speed limit on Bearwood Road extended further north to Highlands Avenue. This will be picked up as a wider issue by the Project Manager outside of this TRO process.
What commitment will the Council give to actioning this feedback given that:
a) The Parish Council is the most informed party to this speed restriction need and that Highlands Avenue is the “Gateway” to the residential area of Bearwood Road Barkham;
b) The cost addition is negligible – a few more signs between the proposed 30 mph limit and the Parish Council’s requested limit.
Wider issues will be picked up by the Traffic Management Team, including comments made previously about various locations. It is premature for the Council to commit to anything specific without first undertaking the necessary investigative work. Reducing an existing speed limit would require a speed limit reductions review in accordance with the Department for Transport Circular 01/2013 called “Setting Local Speed Limits” and any proposed speed limit reduction would require the support of Thames Valley Police who are responsible; but as we have said issues are being discussed about other areas other than the ones for which we are speaking tonight so all comments will be noted and considered.
How many Members involved in the decision actually live in Bearwood Road and therefore have first-hand experience of the challenges eg the earlier sensible request to move the speed limit across?
It was confirmed that none of the Executive Members lived in Bearwood Road but that the Executive Member for Highways and Transport had actually driven along the road.
Member Question Time
To answer any member questions
A period of 20 minutes will be allowed for Members to ask questions submitted under Notice which relate to the item on the agenda
Any questions not dealt with within the allotted time will be dealt with in a written reply
In accordance with the agreed procedure the Chairman invited Members to submit questions to the appropriate Members.
Gary Cowan asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question:
WSP had a scheme which the Traffic Management Team and the Highways Inspector asked the Council to look at because the plastic bollards on the extremely narrow footway were being regularly hit by vehicles, which meant they were had to be mounting the footway.
The scheme was on a list to be done just over a year ago that extended the 30 mph speed limit and gave the illusion that the road was narrowing so that this should slow vehicles entering and leaving the village at this point where currently pupils/parents (many with pushchairs with young children also) walk to The Coombes and when Bohunt opens there will be two-way traffic with many more pupils/parents walking in the opposite direction at the same times.
The footway is so narrow in this area and it cannot be widened because that is the extent of the footway width of the Council owned land.
Can you explain why this scheme has been totally ignored when the very clear risks to pedestrians, mainly children and their parents is there for all to see and for which you appeared to baulk at taking responsibility for as I asked you to do in my recent question at Council?
The section of footway in question is an established walked route for The Coombes School and will become part of a walked route for the new Bohunt School once open in September.
The plastic reflective bollards were installed to better define the edge of roads for motorists, particularly in the hours of darkness. They offer no physical protection to pedestrians using the footway. But I can confirm there is no evidence of vehicles actually mounting the footway at this location as this would have resulted in several bollards being taken out in a single section and incident.
However, the presence of the bollards on the footway does take some space, therefore they can reduce the readily accessible walking width on the footway.
All walked routes associated with access to the new Bohunt School, including this section, have very recently been subject to an independent assessment of walked routes. This assessment commented that the width of the existing footway is reduced by the presence of the bollards, as was mentioned above, and recommends that either the bollards are fully removed or the number of bollards reduced to maximise the footway width available. Either of these recommendations, in the opinion of the independent assessment team would provide a “non-hazardous walked route” to serve both schools. The Council’s project team for access improvements to the new Bohunt School, having considered the recommendation, are accepting the second option to reduce the number of bollards. This will then provide both an increase in the footway width available, while still highlighting the edge of the road for motorists, particularly in the hours of darkness.
The WSP scheme referred to looked in isolation at this bollarded section of footway on Eversley Road. With the reduction of bollards now proposed Officers are satisfied the ... view the full minutes text for item 43.1
RESOLVED: That the making of the Wokingham Borough Council (Various Roads, Wokingham Borough) (30, 40, 50 mph speed limits) Order 2016 be approved and the Director for Environment be instructed to inform those persons who objected accordingly.
The three routes where the speed limits are proposed to be reduced to 30mph are as follows:
· B3349 Barkham Roadreducing the existing 40mph speed limit to 30mph for its entirety
· Bearwood Road reducing the existing 40mph speed limit to 30mph from the junction of Barkham Road to a point 100 metres north of The Lilacs
Sheerlands Road reducing the existing 60mph speed
limit to 30mph from the existing 30mph limit to a point 10 metres
south of Bridleway 18.
The Executive considered a report relating to a proposed reduction in speed limits on all or sections of the following roads: B3349 Barkham Road, Bearwood Road and Sheerlands Road in order to support access improvements and walked routes to the new Bohunt School, Arborfield.
The Executive Member for Highways and Transport advised the meeting that following an existing access assessment and speed survey review it was recommended that the new Bohunt School, which was due to open on 5 September 2016, would benefit from the reduction of speed limits on three sections of the road network in proximity of the new school where children may choose to walk beside.
Councillor Richards advised that the proposed speed reduction Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) had been published and consulted upon in accordance with regulations, including consultation with statutory consultees i.e. police, local parish councils and ward Members and local residents. 43 consultation responses were received and analysed and found to show clear support for the speed reduction, including support and approval for the reductions from the police; who were the enforcement agency for speeding matters. It was noted that Arborfield and Newland Parish Council’s response had been received shortly after the consultation period and that too showed a clear support for the speed reductions.
Councillor Richards also clarified that the usual decision making process for TROs was through an Individual Executive Member Decision but because of objections to the proposals by Ward Members the Constitution states that the decision must be made by the Executive.
Members were also advised that in addition to the proposed speed reductions the Council had investigated reducing the speed limits on sections of the A327 Eversley Road and Langley Common Road. Unfortunately these two sections did not meet the national review criteria that would allow the speed limits to be reduced and the Police had advised that they would not be supportive of such reductions. It was noted that discussions were ongoing about these two sections of road,
Following a query about how many of the 150 children starting the new school were likely to walk. Councillor Richards stated that it was anticipated that around 30 children would walk although this would not be known until the school opened.
Councillor Jorgensen commented that regardless of how many children were likely to walk they would be more likely to do so if parents viewed the traffic as reasonably slow and the route as reasonably safe. Councillor Jorgensen was therefore keen that the width of the footpath be reviewed as she felt it was very narrow. Councillor Richards assured Members that in order to widen the footpath vegetation, including bushes and trees, had been cut back along its length and some of the bollards were planned to be removed. Members wanted to ensure that the vegetation would be cut back on a regular basis.
Councillor Ross asked for consideration to be given to placing a white line near to the verge of the relevant roads as had been seen in ... view the full minutes text for item 44.