Report to Saughall & Shotwick Park Parish Council
Cllr Simon Eardley
This remains an ongoing challenge and has been a considerable priority for me (and others) in recent weeks. The start of the new school term has seen ongoing problems and frustrations for parents and students around transport at both the start and end of the day. I am very grateful indeed for the considerable work that a number of colleagues are doing on this, notably Cllrs Jenny Young and Kath Evans. Many parents are also offering substantial support as we seek to get the issues resolved. The previously Covid-19 funded direct bus service to secondary schools has now ended and reverted to the pre-Covid arrangement of Saughall to the Chester Bus Exchange (change) to school, as previously reported, and then the reverse in the afternoon. Many operational issues remain with this and are the cause of considerable distress and inconvenience to many and major safety concerns as far as I and others are concerned which will only be exacerbated as we approach the darker mornings and evenings. I have continued to make strong representations to all levels of official within the Council and externally to bus operators (notably Stagecoach) who have been responsive but there is no final resolution as yet. Funding does not exist, we are told, to allow the reinstatement of direct bus services unless they can perhaps be provided by a private company that would need to be funded on a commercial basis by parents. In most instances this is prohibitively expensive.
The Member of Parliament, has latterly become engaged with the matter and has now arranged a meeting with interested parties on 20 October 2021 via Teams. This will include representatives of relevant schools, CWaC, parents and bus operators. Fortunately from my perspective (I wasn’t directly consulted for availability) the date is suitable and I didn’t have prior commitments already arranged. This intervention is more welcome than some regrettable and false political comment on the overall issue that appeared on social media recently and which has now been removed.
I (and indeed other PC colleagues) will continue to keep you all briefed.
Highways Group engagement
Further to my note in my September report, I have chased CWaC Highways for a response to the email sent to them on 23.08.21 regarding various future schemes for the parish. The following response was received earlier this week:
- I can request costing for such schemes but I’m afraid it wouldn’t be a priority for the team as they have to prioritise schemes with allocated funding. However, I would suggest before moving forward with further proposals in the village we give the recently installed VAS’s time to take effect and record speeds in the areas of concern to get some accurate data to assess if it is a perceived concern or actual issue of speeds being too high. For the 3rd image I think physically getting one in would be a challenge and to be honest using several times a day I would say having to wait to get through happens more than a concern about speeds. For the Long Lane one I would suggest we also get speeds to establish the impact of the extension of the 30mph limit.
- I can ask for an assessment of the speed limit along Fiddlers Lane if the PC are happy to 50% fund any recommended reduction in limit. I would expect the road safety team would want to assess the full length for consistency but they would determine what is appropriate if we are taking this forward. Please let me know if the PC would like this to be done.
- Please see following response previously sent to Mike Johnson of the PC in 2017. This still applies. “With regard to the provision of traffic signals at the Western Avenue junction, this was looked into by Cheshire County Council many years ago and at that time the cost was found to be prohibitive. As we currently have very limited funding for improvement works an improvement such as this would only currently be considered if it were to address a junction with a history of personal injury collisions and even then it would be subject to funding being allocated. Fortunately, the junction does not have a significant number of collisions and as such the provision of traffic signals is not currently being considered.”
I know Cllr Brian Kerr will bring this to the parish council for further consideration and I look forward to your direction on the way forward in due course.
Other highways matters
VAS signs – liaison with CWaC took place to resolve operational issues with the new VAS equipment which have now been resolved. This also included arranging for the hedge of the field along Hermitage Road (from Blacon) to be cut. I’m grateful to a farmer contact in Mollington for expediting this work. Other hedge trimming has been done in that stretch following some correspondence with a concerned resident who uses the route with her children/dog on a regular basis.
Willow Hey (and other areas) flooding issues
This issue continues to be a priority for me and other interested parties. Whilst the matter is not resolved and there is some way to go, I can report the following:
- I met with landowners recently, responsible for the field to the rear of Willow Hey. They have agreed to engage with the challenges being faced and indeed have undertaken some ditch maintenance works themselves in recent weeks. There are ongoing issues with the actions of residents to the rear of properties in this area (garden expansion etc) which need to be dealt with but the landowners are very willing to assist. See what I have proposed further below.
- I met with one of the residents who is most affected by these issues in Willow Hey on 01/10/21 to update her in person on progress and actions being taken. She will be kept fully informed going forward.
- Atkins Report. This report details options to mitigate flooding and substantial water from the site and was the subject of the most recent meeting on 01 June 2021 that was convened by the Member of Parliament. I am informed by the CWaC Highways officer who has been leading on this that costings are now available for our consideration and he is collating a simple report to put this in a format for use in due course.
- I have proposed the following next steps and am at various stages of progress around moving all this forward:
- A landowner site visit, to take place within the next couple of weeks ideally. This will walk the field(s), look at the existing water mitigations and also new information that has come to light about existing drainage on site. This will be a small visit between myself, CWaC Highways and the landowners only. However, if Richard Nicholas were able to be present I believe that would be most beneficial (I have sent him a note accordingly on this and he’s confirmed a willingness to be involved).
- The MP reconvenes the wider stakeholder meeting that he has done previously, physically on site. This meeting should consider any information that comes to light as a result of the above site visit, the Atkins Report with costings and take a firm view on next steps. I have said that I believe the Chief Executive of the Council, Andrew Lewis, must be present for this meeting and will endeavour to bring that about.
I have also responded recently to some resident correspondence from The Ridings where they are affected by water from land to the rear of their properties. I have asked permission to share this material with the contact within CWaC who is working specifically on flooding issues (see below ref. ‘The Peg’). I believe these residents should also be included in the MP convened meeting mentioned above for obvious reasons.
Flooding issues at ‘The Peg’, Hermitage Road
After many months of chasing, modest progress has been made in terms of dealing with flooding issues at this location in the sense of the main CWaC officer has agreed to meet with affected residents on site. I have asked for the date to be confirmed ASAP and all being well will be in attendance.
Shotwick Park Estate Project
I have a brief update from the CWaC County Land Agent as follows: “Revised ‘Heads of Terms’ (have been) issued and they remain with the buyer’s agent whilst they are making some initial ‘due diligence’ enquiries.”
- Footway between Church Road and Smithy Close. Colleagues will recall that I logged this for repair in mid-August (HW3571744292). The issue was surface cracking owing to roots from a Bamboo tree in a neighbouring garden. CWaC duly carried out a repair but regrettably the root issue which is the underlying cause of the problem continues. I have asked CWaC Highways to take further affirmative action to address this.
- Correspondence referred to me by a resident, Jason Church, following the last meeting of the parish council. I have taken up the issues in this correspondence with the relevant authorities, including Sanctuary Housing and await their full response which I will communicate further with Mr Church on in due course.
- Waste collection days. Residents should by now have received a new calendar confirming what their household waste / recycling collection day will be going forward, together with arrangements for green waste over the winter period. This information will also be available online after 08 October 2021 via this link: Your bin collection (cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk)
- Rotary event – Dog Fun Day. I would be interested to hear any feedback from colleagues around this event which from what I have been told was a great success. Regrettably owing to an ‘away-weekend’ on the day it was held, I was unable to be present.
- I met with Tim McQuiban of Saughall Methodist Church in September. Tim is looking after the church/congregation as an interim arrangement before a new minister is appointed. He has asked me to draw to the attention of the parish council the availability of the church for activities, functions, meetings if needed.
Cllr Simon Eardley | Saughall and Mollington Ward
Shadow Cabinet Member for Environment & Climate Change (inc. Highways and Strategic Transport)
Cheshire West & Chester Council, HQ Building, 58 Nicholas Street, Chester, CH1 2NP
F: fb.com/SimonEardleyChester | T: @simonjveardley