Report to Saughall & Shotwick Park Parish Council
06 September 2021
Cllr Simon Eardley
The vexed question of transport for students from Saughall to Chester high schools has continued to be a priority in recent weeks. At the outset I’d like to thank parish councillors Jenny Young and Kath Evans for all they have done in raising problems and concerns tenaciously in recent months and indeed to the parents who have been very effective in putting their points across. Various dialogue has taken place, including a meeting I arranged on 31 August 2021 with Cllr Bob Cernik who is the Labour administration’s Cabinet member for Children and Families. This portfolio includes responsibility for school transport matters. The meeting was well attended by parents and lasted nearly two hours where they were able to put their points and concerns direct to Cllr Cernik. Once we got over the usual lines around the council not having sufficient resource to support a permanent service, actions were agreed specifically around liaison with Stagecoach on the capacity issues that are likely to be keenly felt when the new academic year starts on 06 September (for pupils to Upton HS). I am, however, able to report a positive development on this front.
Whilst the Stagecoach provided direct service will not recommence, there is to be an additional bus to the main terminus in Chester. All vehicles will be large single deckers – capacity circa. 40 seated + 20 standing each giving a total capacity of around 180 between 0725 and 0737. I have repeated below some correspondence from a contact at Stagecoach which I am sure will also be of interest. This is the timetable for the morning:
0725 15A Stagecoach (normal service bus)
0735* 15 Stagecoach (*extra bus 1)
0737** 15 Stagecoach (**new extra bus 2)
0750 15 Arriva (normal service bus)
As the new term starts, I have asked that parents keep me informed as to how it all proceeds. This issue hasn't gone away and I remain committed to doing my best to assist further where possible.
"You are correct in that the 'S' trips will NOT be operating from this school term as the emergency funding to supply these services, for social distancing purposes, has ended. Unfortunately, we cannot commercially justify having a vehicle effectively tied up all day just to do a dedicated door to door school bus.
From next week though, the following has been put in place to assist the flow of Students to/from the Saughall area:
Another vehicle will be added on the 15 running just after the 07:35 journey, at 07:37 from Saughall. Both will be single deck vehicles, but will give a combined seating capacity of 100, both trips will operate as far as Chester Interchange only as they have connecting trips to pick up at 08:00. These are in addition to the 15A that departs Saughall at 07:25. This extra vehicle will be on a trial basis while we monitor passenger flows.
From Upton High , an extra 51A service will depart the school at 15:24, which will run on to do the service 204 at 15:45 from Chester, which runs via Saughall on its way to Deeside. Due to various constraints regarding vehicle and driver availability, this is the best that can be achieved at the present time. We will monitor the situation with The Council and hope that this goes some way to easing any potential issues. Please see attached timetables from next week."
Highways Group engagement, 23/08/21
I was pleased to meet with the Highways Group online on 23/08/21 to follow up on discussions at the August meeting on highways matters. Other colleagues will no doubt report on this matter too but from my perspective, the main action was to contact CWaC Highways on specific points of concern:
- Faults with the operation of the new VAS on Seahill Road. This has subsequently been rectified and another potential fault corrected.
- Providing initial detail for discussions to commence around the installation of three ‘road islands’ at various locations in the village (in the form of a note to CWaC Highways senior officers).
- Raising concerns around how parts of the village are seen as a ‘rat-run’ and offering ideas, again for discussion, about how this might be mitigated.
I have attached here a copy of the email sent as follow up to this meeting for reference and which the Highways Group are aware (available on request if residents would like to see it). I await a detailed reply from CWaC officers on the matter and will press for this in due course.
In the coming weeks I intend to walk the whole village and note highways signs that require washing, replacement or other errors being corrected. If any colleagues wish to join me on this, I would welcome it!
Residents raised concerns with me regarding overgrown hedges on Hermitage Road back in July and since then efforts have been made to have various cut. I am pleased to say that some farmers actioned this almost immediately but there remains an issue at the entrance to the village from Blacon, on the left hand side. I have now been in direct contact with the farmer concerned and believe progress will be made in the next week or so. This is of particular concern as one of the new VAS is being impeded from working in this location. CWaC are fully aware of concerns and are working with me to resolve them. Some residential hedge has also recently been cut in this location following a specific request to do so via the Highways team. Similarly, CWaC Highways have also been in touch with residents responsible for hedge maintenance in the area of Church Road where properties run at a right angle to the main road.
Waste Service – collection days
There will be changes to some waste and recycling collection days from October 2021 although I am unclear at this stage how the parish might be affected. Households affected by the changes will be notified by a tag fixed to their bins. Look out for your annual calendar, which will soon be delivered through your door http://cwac.co/bu5IK
- Shotwick Park Estate Project. I communicated the view of the parish council to the CWaC Chief Executive, Andrew Lewis, following the August meeting, together with my own reflections on it. Mr Lewis has been on annual leave for much of August and I await further developments.
- Bluebell House development issues. As mentioned in my August report, I continue to assist residents with challenges here. I am pleased to report that the requested ‘H-bar’ has now been painted on the entrance point here on Church Road. Separately, I have assisted residents of Church Road with some postal service challenges as a result of this development which I believe are now in the process of being resolved satisfactorily.
- Police sign at ‘The Peg’ on Hermitage Road – this has now been erected again.
- Highways sign pointing in the wrong direction on Hermitage Road (near Aspen Grove). Following the meeting with the Highways Group as mentioned above, I requested that CWaC reposition a road warning sign on the ride hand side as you approach the village. I am pleased to say this was actioned the following day.
- Methodist Church entrance. I took up a hole in the driveway entrance here with contacts at the church following a request from a resident. This has now been filled.
- Footway between Church Road and Smithy Close. Concerns have been raised with me regarding root growth from a garden to the Smithy Close end of this area which is causing serious damage to the footpath surface. CWaC have raised a job to repair this and I have also asked them to engage with the residential property where the roots are coming from to deal with the matter more long term as it is a repeat occurrence I understand.
- Other resident assistance. Over the last month I have also been helping residents with smoke pollution concerns; accommodation issues (social housing provision); child access matters and have put the Rotary Club in touch with CWaC Your Streets to assist with their event planned for the Golden Jubilee Field in late September.
If you want to get in touch with Simon, you can using any of the channels below: