Cross Keys Swing Bridge, Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire

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BRIDGE ROAD ENHANCEMENT SCHEME
SUTTON BRIDGE


May 222011

Bridge Road Enhancement scheme
An improvement on the old scheme,
but what a shame the bollards were not cleaned.

Bridge Road
All clear?


Jan 252011

A few photos showing the progress of the Road Enhancement scheme. Unfortunately the day after completion of this work there was heavy rain and a huge puddle 10ft x 3ft appeared at the side of the crossing. The Highways Department will be along again to rectify this in the very near future.

The removal of other parts of the Enhancement scheme, i.e. build outs, etc. will be carried out within the present financial year.

Safety Island in Bridge Road
Safety Island on Bridge Road

Sign re commencement of road works
Sign re commencement of road works

The Safety Island on Bridge Road has been demolished
The Safety Island has been demolished, though it is understood that the metal work has been put in safe storage.

New Zebra Crossing on Bridge Road
The new Zebra Crossing on Bridge Road.


Oct 282010

At the Parish Council Meeting held on the 26th October, 2010, Councillor Brewis announced that the work on the alterations to the Road Enhancement Scheme is scheduled to commence on 16th November, 2010.


THE STORY OF .. (A CASE-STUDY OF DEMOCRACY IN ACTION)

In 2002 the residents of Sutton Bridge were very concerned about the speed of the traffic using Bridge Road. (They still are...)

At the Annual General Parish Council meeting in 2002 this matter was discussed.

William Webb, who was Executive Councillor for Highways at that time, chaired a Policing Forum at the Royal British Legion Hall to discuss immigration, where a packed audience left him in no doubt at all, that the most pressing concern was the speeding traffic on Bridge Road.

Although EU money became available, the EU would not allow it to be used for traffic calming. However, it was decided to use it for the ‘Enhancement’ of Bridge Road in such a way that the measures taken would have the effect of slowing traffic down.

In 2003, Amanda Bond from the Lincolnshire Development Agency drew up plans for the Enhancement Scheme. These plans went on display in the Royal British Legion Hall.
They were also available in the Sutton Bridge Council Office for approximately 9 months. There was also a pop-in day in the British Legion.

Amanda Bond visited businesses on Bridge Road and had a display and consultation in the then village hall on three occasions. The whole process was as transparent as it could be.

The Enhancement Scheme was installed by 2004. Councillor Brewis was initially in favour of the scheme.

The total cost of the Enhancement Scheme was £137,000. The breakdown is as follows:

Some farmers, a local coach firm and also a local HGV café owner did not like the Enhancement Scheme. They said it interfered with the tractors and the coaches and lorries using Bridge Road. In fact, the farmers only use Bridge Road about 24 times in any one year, and then only during the summer months. One farmer who has the largest agricultural vehicle said he only uses Bridge Road six times a year with a harvester that has to mount the pavement which was reinforced, but he was happy to use Railway Lane.

In 2004 some of these people formed the so-called Sutton Bridge Safety Action Committee which was chaired by Mr Michael Booth. Mr Booth and his committee, including Councillor Brewis, who seemed to have changed his mind, tried very hard to get the scheme removed entirely.

A petition was drawn up. It had 2400 names on it. But, investigations show that some names were duplicated and that at least 1000 names voting for the complete removal of the Enhancement Scheme were not those of Sutton Bridge residents but included people from such faraway place as Worthing in Sussex, Sittingbourne in Kent, West Yorkshire, Derby, Luton, Scarborough, Burnley, Lincoln, Sheffield, London and so on. The full petition can be seen at the LCC Depot, Bourne Road, Pode Hole, Spalding.

Mr Booth, and the Safety Action Committee had a meeting with Councillor Richard Coupland, who, at that time, was Shadow Portfolio Holder for Highways and Planning. He then had a meeting with the Sutton Bridge Parish Council. The purpose of this was to achieve transparency and democracy, giving everybody an opportunity to express their views.

Mr. Booth and the so-called Safety Action Committee believed ‘that the problem with the pinched island and bus stop had only been implemented with the scheme’. It was, they thought, not in the original plan.

On 8th November 2004, Mr. Booth and the Safety Action Committee received a letter (a copy was sent to Councillor Brewis) from Mr. Coupland who pointed out that

Historically, prior to the Long Sutton bypass being constructed, according to a survey conducted on the same basis in April 1989, the two-way traffic flow consisted of 9159 vehicles, of which 2292 were HGV’s (25%).

Councillor Coupland stated that he had investigated the case to the full and apart from the few amendments he had suggested, believed that they had gone as far as they could with the dispute. In a newspaper article dated 14th December 2004, Cllr. Coupland stated that ‘Scrapping the road scheme is unthinkable’.

In 2006 two speed surveys were carried out. The first was on 22nd February 2006 using technical data recording equipment. The equipment was positioned outside 134 Bridge Road where it recorded traffic speeds and flows. A daily average of 7167 vehicles travelled though the survey area, with a fairly even flow in each direction. There was an average speed of 31.4mph. 391 drivers exceeded the speed limit by 10mph.

The second survey commenced on 2nd June 2006, and was carried out by the Highways Division of the County Council, using technical data recording equipment. The equipment was positioned outside 217 Bridge Road, where it recorded traffic speeds and flows. The area has a 40mph speed limit and this was not adhered to; police enforcement was required.

In 2006 Mr Booth and the Safety Action Committee received a letter (copy to Cllr Brewis) from Councillor William Webb, Executive Councillor for Highways, stating that the Enhancement Scheme did in fact achieve its fundamental objectives—to slow down the traffic along Bridge Road and to provide a safer and more attractive environment for pedestrians and shoppers on the main road through the town. He believed that the County Council had successfully addressed the matter of speeding traffic by means of an innovative, co-ordinated scheme.

Councillor Webb also stated that he could not accede to the request, made by the Sutton Bridge Safety Action Committee, to remove the Enhancement Scheme,

In 2007, in spite of this, when there was a Parish Election, Councillor Brewis and Mr Booth stated on their electioneering leaflet that to ‘vote for them you would be voting to get the enhancement scheme removed entirely...’

It is worth recalling that they were told twice, in 2004 and again in 2006, that this would not happen.

In May 2007, at the first Parish Council meeting of the newly elected council, the clerk advised them that as 10 of the 11 council members resided in, or were involved with, a business on Bridge Road, they should apply for dispensation, as it might be perceived that they had a prejudicial interest. They did not apply for dispensation because Councillor Brewis said they did not need to. At the next meeting, the Clerk asked them if they had completed the forms she had obtained for them; they said they had and had given them to Mr Brewis.

On the 31st July 2007 there was a Parish Council meeting in the church attended by Cllr. W. Webb, Mr P. Coathup (LCC Highways) and Mr. S. Willis. Also present were 45 members of the public and one member of the press.

A vote was taken on the subject of the Enhancement Scheme. Under instructions from the chairman the vote was not recorded. A majority had voted to keep the scheme as it was.

Members of the public included representatives from bodies as various as Age concern, Help the Aged, Nene Lodge, Alzheimer's Group and Sunbeams Playgroup.

Cllr Booth stated that, with one phone call, he could get over 100 people who would vote to get the scheme removed.

On 10th September 2007, in the Royal British Legion Hall, the Parish Council held a public meeting. The poster advertising the meeting, which was printed and paid for by the so-called Road Safety Action Committee stated, ‘WANTED your support for the complete removal of the Enhancement Scheme.’ Only 105 members of the public attended.

66 people voted to remove the scheme. 16 people voted to keep it and 23 people abstained from voting on the grounds that there was a third alternative—that of ‘tweaking’ of the scheme. After that a majority of people wanted some alterations but not complete removal of the scheme. It was then agreed that a public meeting would be held to discuss what alterations should be made. Such a meeting never took place.

On 29th July 2008, at a Parish Council meeting, Cllr Booth stated that at a meeting with SHDC Highways Task Group, Portfolio holder Cllr Webb said that in a recent poll 60% of residents in Sutton Bridge were in favour of the Enhancement Scheme.

On the 11th December 2008, a third speed survey was conducted using technical data recording equipment. The equipment was positioned outside Premier Foods, Bridge Road. A daily average of 5492 vehicles travelled through the survey area with a fairly even flow in each direction. There is a 60mph speed limit at this point. The average speed was 51.4mph and 2.5% of drivers exceeded the speed limit by l0mph.

On the 13th March 2009, at a Parish Council meeting, attended by Mr. P Saxby and Mrs S. Cooper, both from LCC Highways, they suggested some amendments which would be implemented on condition that the residents of Sutton Bridge wanted them. The amendments consisted of

Mrs Cooper advised that the works would not be started until the Parish Council had carried out a consultation with the residents of Sutton Bridge.

The cost of the amendments will be £45,000.

It was agreed by the Council to consider distributing a leaflet to all residents, with a response form included. Responses would be forwarded to LCC for assessment.

Later, Mr. Saxby was instrumental in drawing up a form of survey for Parish Council approval.

On the 28th April 2009, at a Parish Council meeting discussion of the draft survey was pre-empted by Cllr Brewis who had drawn up, printed and had paid for his own survey which he presented it at the council meeting as having the approval of Mr Coathup. This survey was presented as a fait accompli—it was not discussed either. It was falsely said to come from the Parish Council. No councillor is allowed to do anything on behalf of the Council without their approval. Mr Coathup subsequently denied that he had had anything to do with Cllr Brewis' survey.

On the Brewis survey, there were no clear instructions as where to return the completed form; the time in which to return the survey was very limited; the survey did not have a place for names; the forms were not numbered; there was no mention of the cost of the proposed amendments (£45000); there was no box for comments; only one copy of the survey response form was sent per household; not every household received one.

Under the Council Code of Conduct, Cllr Brewis’ survey was totally illegal. It was the subject of a complaint to the Standards Committee whose concluding comment was that this whole episode was ‘unfortunate’...
Only 364 individuals from a possible 2015 households replied. Only a minority of residents even expressed an opinion. How can this be taken to mean that the residents of Sutton Bridge want the costly amendments to be made?

In the first week of October 2009, a further traffic survey was carried out with a total of 28,415 vehicles being recorded over 5 days, Friday to Tuesday. The traffic flow was fairly even in both directions daily. Inbound traffic averaged 31mph and 2.5% of the vehicles travelled at a speed at which prosecution would be an appropriate course of action.

Outbound vehicles were less well behaved, possibly starting to increase speed too early, aiming for the higher speed limit area in the distance. These vehicles averaged 34mph and 8% of them would be eligible for prosecution.

On 17th December 2009, Mr. P. Saxby had a site meeting with the Council to discuss where the new pedestrian crossing should finally be placed. Yet again the Council acted without consulting residents—the pedestrian crossing will probably be in the wrong place... However, there will still be an opportunity to file objections when the Traffic Order is published.

During the time of 2002 and 2009 there have been five Safety Audits carried out on Bridge Road. Anything that was considered to be unsafe was attended to.

The alterations to the Road Scheme are due to commence 2010/11.


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