title="Hinton Charterhouse Parish Council in Somerset"

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News  »  Councillor Commitments - response from Neil Butters

   Councillor Commitments - response from Neil Butters    27 April, 2015


Dear Chris


Local elections Bathavon South Ward – 7th May 2015

Many thanks for your letter dated 14th April, regarding the parish council’s strategic aims.

Given that I am of course currently your District councillor, I have already been working to an extent on all these various issues and so would like to answer in two parts in each case:

i. what I have been involved in already, and  ii. what I would do in future.  I trust this is acceptable.

1.To secure traffic calming measures in the parish

The most urgent requests for traffic calming have come – to me at least – from the south end of the village.  I spoke to a number of local residents about this some months ago and – as you know – arranged a site meeting with a B&NES Highways officer, yourself, and three local residents late last November.  Five kinds of solution have been suggested, to my knowledge:  a. miniroundabout at junction – would not leave room for parking at shop/post office, which is dependent on passing vehicle traffic;  b. chicanes – not favoured by many due to fatal accident at Norton St Philip;  c. speed tables – would need to be well-lit; not favoured by ambulance drivers et al; noisy for immediate neighbours; increased road maintenance costs because vehicles drop down at twice their normal weight; expensive: would cost between £65 and £100K for design and implementation; d. flashing Vehicle Activated Sign (VAS) – one is to be trialled when it becomes available;  e. pinch point scheme with village gates – I gather this is the parish council’s preferred scheme, as things stand.  This proposed solution would cost some £50K and has been welcomed by Highways officers as a practical way forward.  With my encouragement, it has been added to the prioritisation list so that it may be considered for an allocation of budget from the “Integrated Transport Block” grant that comes from Government each year.

Were I to be re-elected, and assuming the new parish council took the same view, I would press for an allocation of funds at the earliest opportunity with a view to implementing ‘e’.

2. To establish 20 mph speed limits in the parish

20 mph is seen generally as the way forward – with large parts of Bath now designated.  Also, three of the seven villages in the ward already have mandatory 20 mph limits: Freshford (being extended), Monkton Combe, and – most recently – Wellow.  However, implementation will only be considered without traffic calming measures by B&NES officers where average speeds are already low.  Hinton High Street would need such traffic calming measures before 20 mph would be formally considered.

With a solution to ‘1’ it should be possible to implement ‘2’, which I should be happy to press for – on stretches recommended by the parish council.

3.To secure high speed broadband for the parish

This is a very difficult issue to progress because of the confidentiality agreement that exists with BT at national level.  The Council thus has little or no influence on where BT goes next.  However, they have recently appointed – jointly with North Somerset Council – a ‘Principal Enterprise & Broadband Business Development Officer’, and I have been to see him to push the case for all villages in our ward to have their broadband uprated at the earliest opportunity.  The national timetable is for 90% of the country to be upgraded by March next year (Fibre To The Cabinet – 24 Mbps, European standard), with a further 5% by the end of 2017.  The final 5%, or equivalent method of coverage, expected to come by 2020.  I am currently B&NES’ official voting member on the Local Government Group’s Rural Services Network, and recently attended a meeting at Westminster where this was mentioned: they are intent on tackling all new MPs immediately after the election.  There is also an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) established to deal with the matter, where this will continue to be pursued.  (Incidentally, some work has evidently already been started in Hinton by BT, so it is possible that they will build on that locally.)

I will continue to press the case for our villages at both national and local level, as the opportunity arises.  (Note that I have been serving as a Co-secretary of an APPG – for Heritage Rail, and therefore know the ropes here.)

4.To maintain the parish sweeper scheme

The Council has indicated that the Parish Sweeper Scheme is to be reviewed in June.  I have been to see the relevant Strategic Director and received an assurance that this is not a euphemism simply for withdrawal of funds for this very valuable scheme.  I have been assured it is not.  However, it seems that some parish councils are alleged to have been using what are supposed to be dedicated funds for other purposes and, in a situation where we still have to save many more £ms year on year for another few years they want to ensure that these moneys are not wasted.

I will hold them to their word!


Yours sincerely

Neil Butters

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