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Monday, February 16, 2015

Difference of opinion on Castle Street traffic

* Response at foot of story from Cllr Thane + response from Keep Llangollen Special

A county councillor has questioned the need to have a specialist look at tackling traffic problems in Castle Street, Llangollen.

As llanblogger reported recently, town councillor Phil Thane is proposing to ask a firm of traffic management specialists to come up with a “new vision” of how to deal with the competing needs of drivers, pedestrians and shopkeepers on the town’s busy main street. 
As Cllr Thane recently wrote on llanblogger: “Everyone grumbles about Castle Street.

“At the moment we have the worst of all possible solutions, some legal parking, some illegal parking, double yellows down one side giving motorists the illusion of a clear road - until they meet a large vehicle coming the other way, and pedestrians running the gauntlet.

“The only good thing is that it's so chaotic the traffic is usually slow and there haven't been any serious accidents.

“We, Llangollen Town Council and Cittaslow Llangollen, think it could be better, but it needs a new vision not just the county council putting down some more paint and harrassing shopkeepers.”

An appeal has been launched to raise the £1,000 to pay for a basic survey by a firm of traffic management specialists which would be followed by a public meeting in the Town Hall. 

But now county councillor Stuart Davies has contacted llanblogger to say: “I broadly support the Cittslow initiative as endorsed by the Town Council.
“However, I am concerned that they may be replicating work already done by the county council.

“On their funding website they discuss in great detail the problems with parking in Llangollen. It is reasonable to assume that this is the subject of the traffic management study they are attempting to raise money for.

“The county council commissioned a parking study last year of the whole of Denbighshire, with part of it looking at Llangollen. They used a company that contacted members of the public to consult with by post.

“This was brought to the Communities Scrutiny Committee last week in draft form as part of the consultation exercise.


“I attended this meeting to input in to the process. I was vociferous in my criticism of some of the conclusions and the fact that local members and Town Council hadn’t been consulted. The chair of the committee therefore asked for the report to go to the Members Area Groups (MAGs) where conclusions can be agreed.

“Myself and my fellow councillor, Rhys Hughes, also commissioned a parking needs study last year, the results of which are going to the same MAGs discussion. These two studies will enable an informed agreement of the needs and outcomes to be used in Llangollen.

“I have also asked, through the clerk, for input from the Town Council before the MAGs meeting.”
Cllr Davies has supplied this link to the Scrutiny Committee papers and the parking reports:
https://moderngov.denbighshire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=271&MId=4916&Ver=4&LLL=0


RESPONSE FROM TOWN COUNCILLOR PHIL THANE ...


"I don't really want to get into a public row with Cllr Davies, but I cannot allow his criticism of our initiative to stand, he gives completely the wrong impression of the Castle StREET initiative set up by Cittaslow Llangollen.
 
"He says, `On their funding website they discuss in great detail the problems with parking in Llangollen. It is reasonable to assume that this is the subject of the Traffic Management Study that they are attempting to raise money for.'
 
"First, it is not our website, it is run by Crowdfunder, we merely set up a project to try to raise £1000 to pay for a brief look at all the issues in Castle Street parking is just one of them, in fact the introduction to our project reads:
 
"`Everyone grumbles about Castle Street. Drivers in a hurry to get through would like all parking banned, pedestrians would like safe crossings, shopkeepers need to load and unload and want more parking for their customers, tourists want a pleasant place to stroll.'
 
"We mention parking. We also refer to: drivers, pedestrians, shopkeepers, customers and tourists.
 
"He goes on, `It is reasonable to assume that this [parking] is the subject of the Traffic Management Study that they are attempting to raise money for.'
 
"We say on the project page:
 
`A full feasibility study will cost more than £10,000, but Ben Hamilton Baillie has offered to do a brief one day survey followed by a public meeting to explain the latest thinking about how to handle traffic in towns.'
 
"We have not asked Hamilton-Baillie to look simply at parking. There are many interlocking issues and we want to look at all of them, and the way they impact on each other.
 
"There is a link on our project page to a video explaining a scheme Hamilton-Baillie carried out in Cheshire. It's not exactly the same as our problems with Castle Street, it was worse, a busy cross roads right in the middle of town, but with some new thinking and considerable work (and money) they made a huge improvement.
 
"We want to kick-start a process leading to a complete overhaul of how our town centre is configured, for everyone's benefit. This crowd funding initiative is just the start. If we raise £1000 Ben Hamilton-Baillie will spend a day here talk to people look at the issues and give us a brief presentation in the evening. This will be open to the public, and county councillors. We hope it will lead to a debate about the next stage, how we get a proper feasibility study done. And eventually the actual work.
 
"We are all well aware that DCC has no money to spend at present, but history shows that busts are eventually followed by booms, and when the next boom comes and councils once again have money to invest in infrastructure we want to have a 'shovel-ready' project that can be implemented before the next bust.
 
"For more information please visit: http://goo.gl/1vVHVV Read it, watch the video and make up your own mind."

RESPONSE FROM KEEP LLANGOLLEN SPECIAL ...

"KLS has discussed this idea several times, so an interested party, we wonder if there’s a fear of radical thinking apparent here.
 
"It might help to point out that the concept of Shared Space isn’t so much radical as a proven, historical fact.
 
"Before the Second World War, and for a short while afterwards, the horse still prevailed over mechanised transport and Llangollen, like all towns and fledgling cities, had little use for roads and pavements as segregated domains.
 
"Llangollen has proved so awkward for modern traffic simply because our tTown evolved with horses and pedestrians which happily – and safely – comingled.
 
"The arrival of the horseless carriage brought with it a new mindset, a sense of danger of collision never present before because horses were just as aware of people around them as their riders, unlike cars and lorries.
 
"The success of the project in Poynton, Cheshire, is proof that this pre-combustion engine is easy to regain and the self-evident reduction of stress for both drivers and pedestrians would surely be welcome here.
 
"I found the idea so intriguing I joined many others in pledging £5 to the fund as I’m highly intrigued to see if this problem of safety and gridlock can be solved by our own People’s Initiative rather than simply tweaking an old system that clearly doesn’t work and is increasingly punitive instead of being inclusive."
 
Martin Crumpton

Chair, Keep Llangollen Special

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