Monday, 4 November 2013

Traffic Management Plan for Sidmouth: serious incidents at the pinch point at the top of Sidmouth High Street

Below is the on-going correspondence between a trustee of the Unitarian Old Meeting hall in Sidmouth and the  'roads and transport team' at Devon County:

Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2013 4:32 PM
Subject: A year later : Pinch point at the top of Sidmouth High Street - DCC ref 12527111

The email trail below refers. A serious incident in April 2012 initiated a series of exchanges which ended inconclusively 12 months ago.
I understand that there are no funds available to develop a full TMP for Sidmouth, but there is growing concern that this fact should not be allowed to prevent any creative proposals to address a particularly hazardous situation.
Another serious incident has occurred. On wednesday of last week at about 2 pm a pedestrian was knocked down and was taken to hospital bleeding badly. Fortunately she escaped serious injury. Eye-witnesses claim that the cause of the accident was that a large Tesco delivery lorry was parked on the no parking and restricted loading area at the top of Sidmouth High Street at the pinch point by the road junction opposite the listed Old Dissenting Meeting House. building A van attempted to negotiate the narrow gap with restricted visibility and the driver found it necessary to mount the pavement. This happens quite regularly. On this occasion the inevitable accident occurred. Next time it could be even more serious.
Just this morning the pinch point was again difficult to negotiate for an extended period of time (at least 30 minutes, shortly before 12 noon) when a G4S van with business at Tesco was parked blocking the narrow pavement and restricting the narrow road.
At the risk of being boring, I would reiterate on behalf of the Trustees of the Old Meeting and many other Sidmouth residents and visitors that a traffic management proposal is most emphatically needed from DCC for this hazardous location. You have rejected as unworkable a range of suggestions from local people but you have not offered any alternative. A year ago you promised to follow this up but nothing has happened, so far as I am aware.
I therefore suggest you again give serious consideration to previous ideas, particularly:
  • Councillor Stuart Hughes's proposal that the restriction on loading at this point should be moved to 8 a.m.
  • Local users' request that the very narrow pavement be protected by the erection of a couple of strong metal bollards, as in many other historic urban locations.
  • Consultation between DCC, the police service and the EDDC traffic officers to negotiate with Tesco and to consider prosecution for persistent obstruction if no alternative can be found.
Yours sincerely
Robert Crick
Unitarian Old Meeting Premises Officer and Trustee

On 29 October 2012 17:12, 
Customer Service Centre Roads & Transport Team - Mailbox <csc.roads@devon.gov.uk> wrote:

Dear Mr Crick,

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the pinch point at the top of Sidmouth High Street.

This has been recorded on our Customer Service System with reference number 12527111 and passed to the traffic team for further action.

I have requested that they respond to you by email with an update on progress.
Thank you for taking the time to contact us.
Yours sincerely

Jennie O'Connell
Devon Highways
t: 0845 155 1004
e: csc.roads@devon.gov.uk

Disclaimer: www.devon.gov.uk/email

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert & Viv Crick 
Sent: 23 October 2012 13:54
To: Customer Service Centre Roads & Transport Team - Mailbox
Cc: Councillor Stuart Hughes; town.clerk@sidmouth.gov.uk; streetscene@eastdevon.gov.uk; efl@sidmouth-int.co.uk;
Subject: Re: Pinch point at the top of Sidmouth High Street
To: DCC Highways and Traffic Management: I attach and paste below a further letter seeking your advice and intervention to overcome a serious traffic management problem.
It is four months since I wrote as a Trustee of the Unitarian Old Meeting House, a listed building at the junction of All Saints Road and High Street Sidmouth. I was asking if the traffic management experts at DCC could suggest a viable solution to the persistent hazard to life and property posed by the current traffic controls in place there.
 At the same time I sent a courtesy copy of the letter to the Portfolio holder, Councillor Stuart Hughes, who wrote back immediately with the creative suggestion that major congestion during shopping hours might be prevented by limiting the permitted hours for loading at the top of the High Street. He floated the idea of moving the permitted hours forward to 8 a.m. instead of 10 a.m.
The July meeting of the Trustees endorsed my June 22nd letter, which concluded “I trust that you can give serious professional consideration to this problem. Please get in touch with me if you have any queries or suggestions.”
 The Board of Trustees was disappointed by your written response a few weeks later, which simply dismissed each of the range of suggestions that had emerged within the town in conversation with amateur traffic managers. What we had been anticipating in reply,  following due consideration and investigation by the professional staff in DCC Highways and Traffic Management Team, was a positive proposal, I advised the Trustees that I believed this would be forthcoming, particularly in the light of Councillor Hughes’s initial reaction.
I would like to be able to report on the progress you are making on this matter when the Trustees next meet at the end of this month. A brief email summarising current thinking among your experts would suffice. 
Yours sincerely
Robert Crick
On behalf of the Trustees of the Sidmouth Dissenter Old Meeting House

On 24 June 2012 18:06, Robert Crick  wrote:

Please find attached a letter, pasted below, with photographic evidence.
I write as a Trustee of the Old Unitarian Meeting House, which is a listed building at the junction of All Saints Road and High Street Sidmouth. A traditional Devon cob building, the church is the central feature at the entrance to the centre of the town and a valuable community asset for arts, craft, science, worship, performance, celebration and debate.
At the request of our insurers and of the stone mason who has carried out emergency repairs to this building, I draw your attention to growing concerns about the management of traffic at the pinch-point at the northern end of the High Street.
The Managing Director of the Sidmouth International School, just south of the church cemetery, has previously drawn attention to the risk posed to the many pedestrians including his students who use the very narrow pavement on the western side of the High Street along the side of the church.
The stonemason John Mayne of Teignmouth has drawn our attention to the cumulative damage being caused to the church by vibration as heavy goods vehicles squeeze past, sometimes riding up onto the narrow pavement.
The traffic enforcement officers of East Devon District Council have confirmed that they are not empowered to prevent large vehicles from parking and loading for extended periods at this narrow point in the road outside the Tesco express store, providing the vehicle starts loading before 10 a.m. Throughout the day and night large numbers of other vehicles regularly constrict the road by stopping to purchase goods or withdraw cash at the ATM.
These concerns were graphically revealed as potentially fatal in an incident on the morning of 31st May 2012. A heavy goods lorry failed to negotiate past another, stationary, HGV and clipped the wall of the church. I attach photographs showing the initial damage.  Repairs were delayed by the Jubilee Bank Holiday and the damage was exacerbated by lashing rain and powerful southerly gales in the next few days, which washed out a large part of the wall, sending a mudslide down the pavement and into the road creating another hazard. I received a “deluge” of telephone calls from concerned citizens. Emergency repairs rescued the building from destruction as soon as the rain relented.
While the high cost of emergency repairs will be borne by the insurers, they have recommended that I write to alert you to this problem with the request that you advise what steps might be taken in a future traffic management plan for Sidmouth to reduce the risk to pedestrians and to the fabric of this historic building.
Recommendations for your consideration from various self-appointed amateur traffic managers include:

  • ·         Placing metal bollards in the road far enough from the church to permit the passage of wheel chairs and baby buggies, and to reduce the damage from vibration
  • ·         Banning all HGVs from the High Street
  • ·         Authorising EDDC enforcement officers to impose immediate penalties on any vehicle causing a minor obstruction at this point
  • ·         Significantly reducing the speed limit on this narrow section of road
  • ·         Making the northern end of the High Street a one-way route easing the pressure at the northern end but adding to congestion in the south as funeral vehicle and visitors to the library and health centre would have to drive right round the town
  • ·         Telling pedestrians, including international students, to use the back route by Blackmore Gardens freeing the High Street for the uninterrupted flow of vehicles
  • ·         Knocking down the church and replacing it with a robust concrete construction in a stainless steel shell!

I trust that you can give serious professional consideration to this problem. Please get in touch with me if you have any queries or suggestions. 

Robert Crick

See also: Futures Forum: Traffic Management Plan for Sidmouth
Vision Group for Sidmouth - Transport
Sidmouth set for ‘traffic management’ talks - News - Sidmouth Herald

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