North Herts. Highways Partnership Joint Member Panel Minutes

Date:
Monday, 30th January, 2012
Time:
7.30pm
Place:
Committee Room 1, Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City
 
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor Alan Bardett (Chairman), Cty. Councillor M.R.M. Muir (Vice - Chairman), Cty. Councillor D.A. Ashley, Councillor David Billing, Councillor Tom Brindley, Councillor Paul Clark, Councillor Lisa Courts, Councillor Bill Davidson, Cty. Councillor K.F. Emsall, Cty. Councillor Fiona Hill, Cty. Councillor A.F. Hunter, Councillor David Kearns and Cty. Councillor R.A.C. Thake.
In attendance:
Richard Jones - Area Service Manager, North and East Herts, Hertfordshire Highways
Roger Flowerday - Lead Assistant District Manager, Hertfordshire Highways
Roxanne Glaud - Strategy Development Manager, Hertfordshire Highways
Richard Cuthbert - Team Leader Access and Rights of Way, Hertfordshire County Council
Tom Goldsmith - Countryside Access Manager, Hertfordshire County Council
Nigel Schofield - Committee and Member Services Officer.
Also Present:
District Councillor M. Paterson (part-time)

Five members of the public including three speakers at public participation.
Item Description/Decision
PART I
25 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
County Councillor Ray Shakespeare - Smith had tendered his apologies. An apology from Simon Young the NHDC Transport Policy Officer was also received.
26 MINUTES
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 31 October 2011 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and be signed by the Chairman.

MINUTE 19 - HERTS LOCAL - HIGHWAYS LOCALITY BUDGETS
A Member referred to this Minute and sought clarification of the procedures for the presentation of petitions on highway matters. The Area Service Manager advised the Panel that the petitions protocol had yet to be agreed for Herts Local. It was currently proposed to submit petitions with 30 or more signatures but not more that 100 to the County Council Member. Larger petitions would go to the County Council. It was proposed by several Members that the role of Area Committees in the acceptance of petitions on local issues should continue and then pass to the County Member or if a petition on a local highways matter was presented directly to the County Member it should still go to the appropriate Area Committee. This would allow consideration of any matched funding towards a local scheme with funds from the County Member’s Locality Budget. The Area Service Manager agreed to report this recommendation to the HCC Executive Member for Highways and Transport.
27 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
No other business had been notified prior to the meeting.
28 CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS
(1)The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and specifically the three registered speakers.

(2) Members were reminded that any declarations of interest in respect of any business set out in the agenda, and the nature of the interest, should be declared as either a prejudicial or personal interest at the commencement of the relevant item on the agenda. Members declaring a prejudicial interest should leave the room and not seek to influence the decision during that particular item.
29 REFERRALS FROM NHDC AREA COMMITTEES
The Chairman advised the Panel that there had been no referrals from the five NHDC Area Committees since the last meeting of the JMP held on 31 October 2011.
30 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - LETCHWORTH AND BALDOCK URBAN TRANSPORT PLAN (SCHEME C-1)
Mr Lee Boswell the Letchworth Town Centre Manager thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Panel and advised that he was speaking on behalf of Letchworth Garden City Town Centre Partnership.

Mr Boswell advised the Panel that an ‘on line’ petition with more than 300 signatures had been posted at Hertfordshire Highways. Mr Boswell considered that the street scene works had altered the layout of the town and this had a detrimental affect on the commercial prosperity of Letchworth. With the alterations to traffic flow in Leys Avenue and the four phase traffic signals at station approach this had reduced access to one entrance (via Eastcheap). Unfortunately there had been insufficient signage in the approaches to Letchworth to lead vehicles to the town centre, for example to regain access to say a premises in Leys Avenue would require a journey through several road turns, roundabouts, pedestrian crossings and traffic lights.

Mr Boswell recommended to the Panel that Gernon Road should be changed to two way traffic and that the traffic island at the end of Leys Avenue should be removed which would improve traffic access and egress, reduce journey times. Removal of the traffic island would also serve to eliminate vehicles illegally using Openshaw Way to perform U - turns and illegal right turns out of Leys Avenue which was a danger to pedestrians using the nearby zebra crossing.

The Chairman thanked Mr Boswell for the presentation.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the presentation by the Letchworth Town Centre Manager be noted;

(2) That the issues raised by the Town Centre Manager be noted.
31 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - SPEEDING TRAFFIC ON THE A505 AT LILLEY
Mrs Jacinthe Betts thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Panel on behalf of residents in Lilley and that an ‘on line’ petition with more than 80 signatures against excessive speeding on the A505 which bisected the village would be submitted on 12 February 2012 according to the guidance for petitions.

Mrs Betts advised the Panel that local residents were extremely worried about access to their homes, there was no pedestrian guard railing or safety barriers which left pedestrians exposed and vulnerable to vehicles, especially vehicles breaking the current limit of 70 mph. This part of the A505 was within 600 metres of a well known accident black spot with high casualties at Beech Hill. Mrs Betts accepted that this dual carriageway had a speed limit of 70 mph. But reminded the Panel that the DfT guidance gave room for a lower speed limit to be considered if for example there was an accident history and Mrs Betts advised that there was a high casualty figure within 600 metres of this section of the A505. This section of the A505 had bends, access points, junctions and hills and met some of the criteria for a speed limit reduction.

Mrs Betts urged the Panel to support the local residents in their request for a reduced speed limit as the A505 ran alongside roadside residences and pedestrians had no footway and no alternative access.

The Chairman thanked Mrs Betts for the presentation and several Members remarked that this was not the first time that local residents in Lilley had voiced their concerns to the Panel. One Member opined that there had been a recent change in legislation and that it should be possible to reduce the speed limit. It was accepted that there was very difficult egress off the bend at this part of the A505, the turn for the dwellings was a left turn, not a filter.

The Area Service Manager (ASM) confirmed that this highway issue had been reviewed at least 6 times in the past and that there had been correspondence with Rt. Hon Peter Lilley MP in 2007 - 2008 that resulted in the central reserve crossover being closed to vehicles and a warning sign was erected with a ‘pedestrians’ sub plate. At this time the DfT had refused an application for a ‘Concealed Entrance’ sign. The ASM advised Members that the 70 mph speed limit was considered in discussions with the police but no change was promoted. The ASM reminded the Panel that as the petition had been submitted ‘on-line’ the highways response would be made ‘on-line’.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the presentation by Mrs Jacinthe Betts be noted;

(2) That the petition (pending) concerning the request for a re-assessment of the speed limit at the A505 adjacent to Lilley be noted;

(3) That the Area Service Manager be requested to undertake further investigations on reducing the speed limit at this location with the Department of Transport in light of recent legislation and respond to the lead petitioner on - line.
32 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - SPEEDING TRAFFIC ON THE B655 EAST OF PEGSDON
Mr Harry Spencer - Smith thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Panel at such short notice on behalf of home owners, farmers and agricultural workers who use this stretch of the B655 between Pirton Cross and Pegsdon. Mr Spencer - Smith advised that a petition with 43 signatures was submitted to the Panel for their consideration of a speed limit reduction to 50 mph at this section on the B655 and a request for noise reduction using appropriate mastic asphalt.

Mr Spencer - Smith advised the Panel that there had been serious accidents along the B665 between Pirton Cross and Hexton in recent years and that there were many bends on this stretch of the road. The B656 from Hitchin to Welwyn had speed restrictions and ‘THINK’ signs to slow traffic, whereas the B655 only had one speed restriction from the national limit of 60 mph to 40 mph at Pegsdon. Mr Spencer - Smith advised that there was a ‘bends’ sign at this section and that one extant sign was obscured by a bush which should be cut back.

Mr Spencer - Smith referred next to the planned surface dressing of the B655 on 2012-2013 and reminded the Panel that this stretch of the road was in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), that two nationally recognised recreational routes crossed the B655 and that the Icknield Way crossed this road, together with several bridleways and footpaths close to the road. Mr Spencer - Smith advised the Panel that the HCC Highways Guide for the Chilterns ANOB Paragraph 59 confirmed that in particularly sensitive locations low noise surfacing should be used.

The Chairman thanked Mr Spencer - Smith for the presentation and the Area Service Manager would consider the issues raised by the lead petitioner and make an appropriate response. The ASM advised that surface dressing was a tried and tested product used throughout UK and was an important tenant of HCC’s asset management approach, as it sealed the road surface from water and ice damage and restored skid resistance. However, the treatment choice would be reviewed in light of Mr Spencer-Smith’s comments.

(1) That Mr H Spencer - Smith be thanked for the presentation;

(2) That the petition concerning the request for a re-assessment of the speed limit at the B655 east of Pegsdon and use of noise reduction mastic asphalt be noted;

(3) That the Area Service Manager be requested to investigate the issues of speed and road safety raised by Mr Spencer - Smith at this particular section of the B655 and the request for the best noise reduction road surface material during the planned programme of works.
33 LETCHWORTH AND BALDOCK URBAN TRANSPORT PLAN
The Strategy Development Manager (SDM) reminded the Panel that the main objective of the Letchworth and Baldock Urban Transport Plan (The Plan) was to make the best use of the existing road network as much as possible and clarified what was meant by short term, medium term and long term implement strategies. An example of schemes and the time frame proposed, e.g. short term was a period of two years from time of funding to implementation, a short term strategy would be a review of bus timetables and routes, and that a long term strategy would be improvements to Letchworth Garden City Station Forecourt. The SDM advised the Panel that two copies of the draft plan had been deposited in the Members Room at the time of the publication of this agenda.

The SDM advised the Panel that the review of The Plan was developed in two stages and the SDM described the key transport characteristics in Letchworth and Baldock and that an important part of the programme had been the six week consultation (Appendix A) from 6 September to 28 October 2011 at which 107 people attended two consultation events and there were 290 completed questionnaires. The Panel noted that during the consultation period there were additional issues raised concerning Letchworth Station and tie in with National Express; Leys Avenue and Gernon Road - the need for a review of the signage in the town centre, Letchworth Gate and dualling of the A505 and four cycle corridors linking to the Greenway.

Of particular concern to HCC was the continuing problem of motorists making illegal ‘u turns’ on Norton Way South during peak traffic periods and how Letchworth Heritage Foundation would manage this situation and NHDC would need to revisit as part of the imposed planning condition. The SDM made reference to the comments made by Mr Boswell on the proposal to convert Gernon Road to two way traffic and stated that there could be benefit if this was done. However, it should be noted that Gernon Road was currently a one way carriageway with parking along one side and their would be a need for a tree removal and parking, road works, and signage would need to be enhanced, especially for car parks. It was noted that any changes to road layouts and traffic management would require modelling of the town centre routing of traffic and the Heritage Foundation had indicated that HCC could make use of their existing town model to do this. The Panel was advised that changes to the current town centre layout was unlikely to be done by HCC and the results of these investigations would be discussed with the Local Planning Authority if it was considered appropriate to the planning application.

The Chairman thanked the SDM for the synopsis of the progress to the Draft Plan and invited comments and or questions. Members gave their unanimous support to the endorsement of the Letchworth and Baldock Urban Transport Plan and there was a measure of support for Gernon Road to change to two way traffic but it was thought to be very unlikely that any current traffic management layouts in the Town Centre could be changed due to cost, and the SDM confirmed that there would not be any funding from the County Council for such works.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the contents of this updating report on the Letchworth and Baldock Urban Transport Plan be noted;

(2) That the summary of the consultation on the Letchworth and Baldock Urban Transport Plan in the report and as detailed at Appendix A be noted;

(3) That the JMP agreed the endorsement of the final draft of the Letchworth and Baldock Urban Transport Plan.

REASON FOR DECISION:
To ensure that the Panel were aware of the results of the consultation and that it was necessary for all Members of the Panel to have had access to the results.
34 PROPOSED PERMANENT TRAFFIC REGULATION ORDER FOR KNEBWORTH 'BOATS 041 AND 043' AND LANGLEY BOAT 021 (DYES LANE)
The Team Leader for Access and Rights of Way (TL) at Hertfordshire County Council advised the Panel that during investigation of existing public rights within Hertfordshire the three routes were recorded as Byways Open to all Traffic (BOAT) on the Definitive Map of Public Rights of Way in Hertfordshire. Following rigorous cross examination at two public enquiries by an Independent Rights of Way Inspector. However, the status of a BOAT was confirmed as a result of historic use by horse and cart/carriage whereas the designation of Restricted Byway would be an accurate reflection of its true historical nature.

The TL described the characteristics and geographical location of the three BOATS and that following ecological studies and advice from Natural England it was considered that the use of the three BOATS should not include access or use by motorised vehicles due to long lasting damage to soils and drainage and to the Knebworth SSSI by off road vehicles and to prevent further damage. The TL confirmed that pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders would have access to these lanes and horse and carriage drivers and users of invalid carriages would have controlled access to these byways.

The TL advised the Panel that the changes to the re- classification of these byways and subsequent order would be made under Section 1 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and described to the Panel the specific sub - sections within the Act.

The Panel noted that during consultation there had been objections/comments from 18 individuals/organisations totalling 51 comments which were then grouped into 16 specific reasons for objections and in six categories as listed at Paragraph 3.4. The TL advised the Panel that eight objections required further consideration. There would be work to improve drainage and lay a surface that would suit all users, and parts of BOAT 21 had probably never been used by motor vehicles and was not suitable for such use. The TL advised the Panel that officers had considered a request to have a ban on 4 wheel vehicles only, thereby allowing motorcycles access, but this was rejected as over time motorcycles would be likely to cause damage and pollution as they would be rode through a watercourse which bordered an SSSI and a European Protected Species habitat. The TL advised that the status of an SSSI was very important and that Burleigh Meadows and Mares Plash were important habitats for Great Crested Newts

The TL concluded his report to the Panel with confirmation that three landowners supported the proposed PTRO with a fourth landowner objecting and that no action was the least preferred approach.

The Chairman thanked the officer for the clarification of the reasons for proposing a Permanent Traffic Regulation Order on these three byways and invited comments/questions from Members.

In response to a question the TL confirmed that landowners would have access to the designated BOATS on their property by way of a key to open gates. The TL also advised Members that where there was current access for motorcycles damage to the soft clay track surface continued. Another Member questioned the approach to any additional PRTOs once the meetings of the JMP ceased, and the ASM advised that such matters would be passed to the appropriate County Councillor who could in turn consult with the Area Committee - it was noted that this would work well as each NHDC Area Committee had a Member who was also a County Member.

Upon being put to the vote the Panel were unanimous in their support to HCC for their proposal to make Permanent Traffic Regulation Orders at BOATS 21(Langley) and 41 and 43 (Knebworth) as described in the report.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the contents of the report to be presented by HCC, including objections to the proposed permanent traffic regulation orders in Knebworth and Langley be noted;

(2) That the location of the Byways Open to All Traffic proposed for a permanent traffic regulation order as presented at Appendix 1 be noted;

(3) That the reference list of objections to the proposed permanent traffic regulation orders as presented at Appendix 2 be noted;

(4) That the support for the proposed permanent traffic regulation order as listed by Natural England and presented at Appendix 3 be noted.

(5) That the JMP supported the proposal to make Permanent Traffic Regulation Order to prohibit motorised vehicular traffic from the sections of Langley BOAT 21 and Knebworth BOATS 41 and 43.

REASON FOR DECISION:
For the JMP to comment as appropriate on the proposed Traffic Regulation Orders.
35 JOINT MEMBER PANEL DISCRETIONARY BUDGET 2011 - 2012
The Lead Assistant District Manager (LADM) referred the Panel to the report which detailed highway schemes currently underway, about to commence and potential schemes for 2012 - 2013

The LADM referred the Panel to the list of approved schemes in 2011-2012 and that all monies had been allocated from the approved budget of £100,000 plus contributions of £46,708 from NHDC Area Committees and £4,250 from HCC Locality Budgets. The LADM next referred the Panel to Appendix B for details of each specific scheme.

The LADM continued his presentation with reference to Paragraph 3.2 which listed highway schemes proposed by Members and Area Committees for the ensuing year 2012-2013. Although cost estimates had been assigned to each scheme there had as yet not been any confirmation of any monies from Hertfordshire Highways, Area Committees or Ward Members due to the change to financing of projects next year through Herts Local. The LADM confirmed that the list of proposed schemes at Paragraph 3.2 would be allocated to the appropriate County Member for consideration under the Herts Local scheme. The LADM referred the Panel to Appendix C for clarification of the proposed schemes.

The LADM concluded his presentation with reference to Appendix D which listed the timetable of works for ten of the schemes listed at Paragraph 3.1

The Chairman thanked the LADM for the update on highway schemes and invited Members comments/suggestions. In response to questions on the progress of various schemes (Paragraph 3.1) in the current year the LADM gave Members more information on the following:
4. Farriers Close, Codicote
9. Hill Road and Meadow Way, Codicote
13. Gaunts Way, Letchworth.

The ASM stated in response to a question that Area Committees would still be able to make contributions via matched funding to highway schemes via the County Councillor and Herts Local. The ASM advised the Panel that there would be a common format report to all 77 County Councillors detailing highway schemes in their division, but not in the current format. It was suggested that it was critical that all County Councillors were aware of the current schemes and proposed schemes funded by their tranche under Herts Local which could then be passed to the NHDC Transport Policy Officer and/or the Community Development Officer for discussion at Area Committee meetings.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the updated list of approved highway schemes for 2011-2012 as listed at Paragraph 3.1 and in detail at Appendix B, supported by Appendix A be noted;

(2) That confirmation of the complete allocation of the JMP discretionary budget of £100,000 for 2011-2012 be noted together with contributions of £46,708 from NHDC Area Committee and £4,250 from Hertfordshire County Councillors Locality Budget;

(3) That the list of potential highway schemes identified for 2012 - 2013 as listed at Paragraph 3.2 and in detail at Appendix C be noted;

(4) That the planned timetable of highway works for 2011 and 2012 up to August 2012 as presented at Appendix D be noted;

(5) That the Lead Assistant District Manager be requested to advise the appropriate Area Committees (via the NHDC Transport Policy Officer) on progress with the Feasibility Studies for highway schemes;

(6) That the Area Service Manager be requested to advise County Members as soon as possible the proposed schemes for 2012 - 2013 in the revised format to be used under Herts Local and then to Area Committees.

REASON FOR DECISION:
To ensure the effective deployment of the 2011 - 2012 JMP Discretionary Budget, and maintain effective scheme delivery progress and mitigate financial risks.
36 2011 - 2012 INTEGRATED WORK PROGRAMME DELIVERY UPDATE
The Lead Assistant District Manager (LADM) presented the report which was a regular updating to the Panel on the delivery of the 2011-2012 Integrated Work Programme.

The LADM advised the Panel that all sites for surface dressing in 2011 had been completed and the preparatory works (such as patching and ditching) for the 2012 sites had commenced. The one outstanding Traffic Scheme at Letchworth Railway Station would be implemented in March 2012. The Panel were pleased to note that the construction of 39 footway schemes for 2011-2012 were almost complete and that there were many types of footway works ranging from footway reconstruction to micro surfacing and slab replacement in a Conservation Area.

The LADM confirmed that there would be a large surface dressing preparatory patching programme in this last quarter of 2011-2012 on local roads and the A road network. Also that strengthening and refurbishment works at Little Chishill Bridge, near Barley would commence in March, plus three bus stop upgrades in Hitchin, Baldock and Letchworth.

The Panel reviewed the schemes completed in the period October to December 2011 as listed at Paragraph 3.7 and the schemes planned for January to March 2012 listed at Paragraph 3.8.

The Chairman thanked the LADM for the updating on the 2011-2012 Integrated Work Programme and invited comments/questions from Members.

There was one question concerning the location of a bus stop in Nightingale Road, Hitchin and the LADM agreed to advise the County Member as soon as possible outside of the meeting.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the update on the delivery of the Integrated Works Programme for 2011-2012 within North Hertfordshire be noted;

(2) That the current status of highway projects as listed at Section 3 for Surface Dressing, Traffic Schemes and Footway Works be noted;

(3) That the list of completed schemes in the period October 2011 to December 2011 at Paragraph 3.7 be noted;

(4) That the list of planned schemes for the period January 2012 to March 2012 at Paragraph 3.8 be noted;

(5) That the update on Bus Stop Upgrades in Hitchin, Baldock and Letchworth as detailed at Paragraph 3.6.1 be noted.

REASON FOR DECISION:
To allow the JMP to comment on the Integrated Works Programme for 2011 - 2012 and receive regular updates.
37 SECTION 106 CONTRIBUTIONS UPDATE
The North and East Herts Area Service Manager (ASM) presented the report of the Area Highway Development Control Manager at Hertfordshire County Council. The purpose of the report was to update the Panel of the current status of Section 106 contributions held by HCC for use on highways and transportation measures.

The ASM drew the Panel’s attention to a letter received by the Chairman from Graveley Parish Council in respect of future development in Great Ashby. It was agreed that this letter would be forwarded to the NHDC Strategic Director of Planning, Housing and Enterprise and the HCC Area Development Control Manager to note for future reference.

The ASM reminded the Panel of the S106 protocol which was used to assess the strategic importance of each allocation with three priorities with an annual S106 selection meeting due in March 2012 to select spending for the forthcoming financial year.

The ASM referred the Panel to Appendix A which listed all of the proposed uses for S106 monies held by HCC and categorised using the traffic light system but listed by town.

Members sought clarification of the status of Section 106 monies allocated for transport schemes in Hitchin, Letchworth Garden city and Royston (see (3) below). The ASM provided a short summary for the schemes and confirmed that the works at Brookers Yard, Hitchin would be part of the Hitchin Urban Transport Plan. The ASM advised that County Members could gain access to the S106 contribution details on a daily basis via HCCs PROMS system.

The Chairman thanked the Area Service Manager for the update and it was recommended that Members should ensure that local schemes were monitored closely and Section 106 monies used to their full extent.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the details of Section 106 monies held by Hertfordshire County Council as listed at Appendix A be noted;

(2) That the proposed use of the Section 106 monies as detailed at Appendix A be noted;

(3) That the Area Service Manager be requested to provide to Members updates and clarification of the following schemes:
a. Ref. 04/00229/1 - Unit 4, Bilton Road, Hitchin;
b. Ref. 06/02007/1 - Brookers Yard, Suzuki and Peter Fish premises, Hitchin;
c. Ref. 07/00347/1 - Land r/o and including 134-150 Grove Road, Hitchin;
d. Ref. 06/00244/1 - Tesco Store, Old North Road, Royston.

REASON FOR DECISION:
To allow the JMP comment on the status of the Section 106 monies held by Hertfordshire County Council and those schemes identified for financial support.
38 OPERATIONAL PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
The North and East Herts Area Service Manager (ASM) presented this report which gave details of the performance of Hertfordshire Highways in the period 1 May 2011 to 31 October 2011.

The ASM was pleased to advise the JMP that there were no exceptions to report for the period June to October 2011 and that all performance levels were good. In response to a question the ASM agreed to look at an expansion of the data to clarify for example a 100 per cent return.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the data supplied on the Operational Performance Indicators at Appendix A for the period 1 May 2011 to 31 October 2011 be noted;

(2) That the Area Service Manager be requested to continue with updating reports on Operational Performance Indicators to each meeting of the JMP.

(3) That the Area Service Manager be requested to provide to Members an additional breakdown of the Performance Indicator Data e.g. If there is a 100 per cent return how many faults made up this total.

REASON FOR DECISION:
To ensure that the JMP are regularly informed of the performance on key service activities.
Published on Monday, 13th February, 2012
9.05pm