Thursday, 9 August 2018

The Goods Shed - back in the headlines

In October 2014 Cheshire West and Chester Council offered Frodsham Foundation a 25-year lease of the goods shed in Frodsham. The aim was to turn the deserted and dilapidated goods shed at Frodsham Railway Station into a vibrant community and enterprise space.

Having an iconic space at the gateway to the town that could attract both local people and visitors is as relevant then as it is now. We tried to deliver this ambitious vision via a public sector route before but couldn’t raise the funding; but with local businesses now wanting to step in, we are urging Cheshire West to give them a chance to make their case before any final decisions to demolish for a few extra parking spaces.

Frodsham Foundation that was created to support and promote local innovation and enterprise for the benefit of the community - issued an open call in 2014 to architects and designers in the North West which resulted in the following design being chosen by public vote.

We believe that the local interest is still there.  The latest consultation from CWAC has seen an overwhelming response in favour of keeping the Goods Shed and trying to find a use that will benefit the town and its vibrant high street and offer something new for residents and the visitors who will come once the trains arrive around the Halton Curve.

The headlines in Frodsham Life this month match those of the Chester Chronicle on 9th October 2014. Both communicate the possibilities of an exciting future facing the town. At the time, Lynn was quoted as saying “the dynamic of Frodsham Railway Station has changed because of the future reinstatement of the Halton Curve. The Goods Shed provides training opportunities for young people looking to work in the catering industry and is licensed for musical events. I think it will be awesome to have a space people can use for community activities,” “I wonder how many people wouldn’t need to commute if there was a venue locally where they could work and access community activities.

We remain disappointed that Cheshire West hasn’t marketed the building more actively in recent years and inspite of us having introduced several interested parties, nothing has happened. The consultation about demolishing the building has triggered new interest and we want to see local businesses given a short window of opportunity to make their case.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

More 20mph zones for Frodsham

CWaC will shortly be publicising more 20mph zones for Frodsham.  At the bottom of the blog you'll find all the relevant maps.  Most of our residential roads will be signed as being 20mph roads.

The data collected by CWaC shows that most of us don't travel at more than 20mph on most of these roads - so changing the speed limit merely reflects what most of us are already doing in any event. 

Most of what is proposed in four separate scheme is uncontoversial - such as bringing 20mph to Ship Street, Ashton Drive, Volunteer Street and surrounding roads.  Similarly with regard to the blanket coverage of the Lakes Estate, Townfield Lane and Fairways etc.  This echos a scheme I proposed for the Lakes Estate a few years ago.

However there are aspects that we all need to think about. 

How do we feel about 20mph on already traffic calmed Howey Lane?  How do we balance the needs of those who live on Howey Lane with the traffic that uses that road to enter and leave Frodsham?  Howey Lane is one of the few roads where average speeds are higher than 20mph - at around 24mph.  That said the extra few seconds travelling along Howey Lane at 20mph shouldn't be an issue.

How do we feel about the short lengths of road - such as Foxglove Court off Fluin Lane?  These short roads when off a 30mph road will remain at 30mph?  There is no logical justification in my view for treating that road any differently to any other residential road.  You can't travel along Foxglove Court at 30mph anyway - or indeed I suspect 20mph - however that argument hasn't been accepted elsewhere such as at Maori Drive.

Then there are roads like Top Road, Overton Drive, Newlands Close that are not part of these schemes.

I don't have the exact figures for how much these schemes will cost.  I suspect they will be amongst the largest and most expensive - and that would suggest at least around £25,000 - although I suspect it will be more.

So if you had £25,000 to spend on road safety schemes in Frodsham - would you choose putting your money into 20mph signs on roads where those speeds are not exceeded or something else?  I know many people want to see a pelican crossing on Bridge Lane by the Chinese Delight.  That would cost a little more than £25,000.  That isn't a straight forward fix by the way.  What about spending that money in putting in a pavement (it would cost more) on Manley Road around Newlands Close?

Would you put the £25,000 on bringing a quality CCTV system to Frodsham?

 

 

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The 'emergency' state of Frodsham's roads

Yet again, on Thursday of this week at CWaC's full council meeting I will be raising the state of our roads with CWaC Labour's Highways portfolio holder Cllr Shore.

I've been raising the state of the roads in Frodsham with her for many, many months - and still they remain in a deplorable and deteriorating state.

The donwnhill run must have been absolutely shaming for CWaC Labour. 

The volunteers who managed the event had had to mark the pot holes on Howey Lane with orange paint - you can still see it now - and they had to shepherd the runners away from the parts of the road where the road surface is missing.

However the official line from CWaC is that Howey Lane's condition isn't poor enough to justify repairs even after the many patching sessions we've had over recent years.

I find this incomprehensible - not only because it is obvious that the road remains in a seriously defective state - but also because doing nothing allows the road to deteriorate further and make the repairs when the finally happen much more expensive.  They may also need to be done in an emergency after someone has been hurt or vehicles damaged.

Of course Howey Lane is merely one example of the poor state of our local roads.

Ashton Drive is also in a deplorable state.  Lynn and I have been chasing CWaC highways to repair Ashton Drive for months only to be told very recently that it too wasn't in poor enough condition to merit repairs.  Again, like Howey Lane - how can they say the condition isn't poor enough to justify repair?

Now, funny thing, - with CWaC's council meeting being set for tomorrow, with Cllr Shore already on notice that I will be raising the state of roads yet again, I have, just this morning, received a notice saying that Ashton Drive is to be closed for EMERGENCY REPAIRS.

Its quite extraordinary that Cllr Shore has let our vital road infrastructure deteriorate so much over such a long period of time that EMERGENCY REPAIRS are necessitated. 

To my mind this looks like a failure of planning and management.  Proper preventative maintenance should eliminate the need for most, if not all emergency repairs.

And before anyone says - 'lack of money' - there is no lack of money.  CWaC has overtaxed everyone over the last 4 years.  Significantly more council tax has been raised than has been budgeted for.  The council has underspent its budget on each of the last 3 years.  There is £6m in the capital budget that has not been allocated and there is a significant underpend on the monies available to service any borrowing.  This is ever before we talk about the additional government money that has been provided specifically to support roads maintenance.

So as it is not a lack of money - the only thing that has got us to this state must be a failure to manage and that lies squarely with Labour's Cllr Shore.





Friday, 22 June 2018

Station Car Park, the Goods Shed and other things

As many will already know CWaC has published a consultation regarding the future of the Goods Shed.  The consultation notice states:



FRODSHAM RAILWAY STATION

GOODS SHED CONSULTATION

Car parking at the railway station is becoming increasingly difficult and with the imminent re-opening of the Halton Curve, the pressure on the car park will only increase.

Cheshire West and Chester Council is therefore keen to seek solutions to maximise the number of available parking places at this car park.

As a minimum, it is planned to surface and properly line the rough ground at the bottom of the car park but this alone will not meet the anticipated demand that has been identified in the Council’s parking strategy.

It is therefore proposed to demolish the goods shed, shown on the plan below, which would provide up to 60 additional parking spaces and improve the frontage to the station platform with attractive landscaping.

Due to the short timescales concerning the Halton Curve, we may need to submit a provisional planning application for demolition before the end of the consultation. 

Please be assured that we will take into account the outcome of the consultation before deciding whether or not to progress the application.   Should the application be progressed there will be a further (statutory) consultation.

Please send your comments by email to: parking@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk or by post to Parking Services, 4 Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0BE.

PLEASE TELL US YOUR VIEWS
We are keen to understand what local opinion is on this proposal to demolish the goods shed to create additional car parking spaces.
Let us know your thoughts by: Friday, 13 July 2018.

I suppose we should all be happy that the council is considering expanding the Station car park - however they've left it very late with the Halton Curve set to open in December 2018.

Lynn and I have been raising the need to expand car parking provision in Frodsham, and particularly at the Station for years and years, having campaigned previously for the re-opening of the Halton Curve and for us to have through trains to Liverpool.  We are now less than 6 months before the Halton Curve will re-open and still CWaC has not got its act together.

We know the Station car park is full on a weekday by around 8am simply with trains to Chester, Manchester and beyond.  Adding in trains to and from Liverpool and the ability to change at Runcorn for the London bound trains is bound to create significant additional demand too.

I've asked CWaC to have talks with Network Rail about expanding the Station car park to the east.  Network Rail own the land alongside the railway (not surprisingly) that could also be used for more car parking spaces.  I'm told there are discussions on going about this too.

I'm very unhappy that this is all so last minute.  It also appears that very little thought has been given to the effect of bringing in car parking charges into Frodsham and the potential knock on effect of car parking being displaced onto residential roads.

I already hear on the grapevine that CWaC officers are not looking favourably on residents car parking schemes in Frodsham...

I'm sure this issue will run on for many more months yet.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Howey Lane - Little Britain in Frodsham - council says 'no'


Anyone who uses Howey Lane in Frodsham will have noticed the spiralling decline of the road surface. Back in 2015 it was the odd pothole here and there with the usual wear and tear around the speed bumps: this is an occupational hazard caused by breaking and accelerating to navigate the speed management measures 

But over the past 2 years things have been deteriorating and fast. Lynn and I report potholes as they arise as do many local people, but the odd repair just did not keep pace and whole lengths of the road surface have now broken down. In an attempt to get the attention this key road needs, the issue has been raised at main council meetings which really isn’t the place for operational service requests but is the last resort for councillors.

With extra pothole money (£0.5m) announced by Government  for CWAC only last month, I had yet another attempt to raise Howey Lane as a case for some urgent attention last Thursday. The answer is unbelievable 

Question 9
From Councillor Andrew Dawson to Karen Shore, Cabinet Member for Environment
I raised the state of Howey Lane, Frodsham at the December 2017 Council meeting.  Since then, and in spite of what can best be called an inadequate attempt at repair and maintenance Howey Lane is further deteriorating.  There are multiple pot holes, large stretches where the base course of the road is exposed and profound problems with drainage generally and in particular surface water run off.  The traffic calming speed bumps and cushions are themselves deteriorating and causing significant additional damage to the road.

When will Cllr Shore sort this out and ensure that this strategic road is fit for use?

Answer 9
Unfortunately winter weather has a massive impact on the condition of our roads, with a sharp rise in the number of potholes forming on the Borough’s road network at this time of year.  Repairs are normally carried out with hot materials in average temperatures, but during cold winter weather, temporary repairs are made to keep the network serviceable and safe for road users, which may not always be aesthetically pleasing.  The location of each temporary repair is accurately logged, so a permanent repair can be included in an appropriate programme of works later in the year.

Based on the survey data we currently hold, Howey Lane has not been identified by our asset management software as requiring full resurfacing. However, its condition will be reviewed in the coming weeks and the appropriate permanent repairs will be made in financial year 2018/19.


Now this failure to recognise the issue would be bad enough if it was just a further example of Labour councillors not being on top of the job or their departments.  However this is a serious health and safety issue.  CWaC has already had to withdraw a 'tweet' showing a highways inspector measuring a pothole and saying it wasn't deep enough at 50mm to justify a repair.

Lynn and I are continuing to press the council to face reality and get on top of highways maintenance.  You may remember, just a few years ago our Borough's roads were in excellent shape and considered to be amongst the best maintained roads in the country.  Three years of Labour failures has led to the present appalling situation.

And before anyone shouts 'cuts' - just remember CWaC has an unallocated £6m surplus at the moment and that it is intending to increase the size of its reserves in the next financial year as well.  What we are seeing is the consequence of a political choice not to fund or prioritise highways maintenance and at a time when there is money available.