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Traffic Issues

40mph Buffer Zone Approved

Worcestershire County Council have issued a public notice approving the reduction in the speed limit between Stoneybridge Island and the current start of the 30 mph at the north planter. The Order will come into operation on 12 August 2021.

PUBLIC NOTICE

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (as amended) Worcestershire County Council The County of Hereford and Worcester (Restricted Roads) (No.4) Order 1981 (Variation), Worcestershire County Council Various Roads, Bournheath, Restricted Roads Order 2002 (Revocation) and Various Roads Fairfield, Belbroughton and Bournheath, 30 and 40mph Speed Limit Order 2021

On 22 July 2021 Worcestershire County Council made an Order the effect of which will be to IMPOSE a 40 MPH on the following length of road in Fairfield:-

B4091 Stourbridge Road from a point 81.5 metres south of its roundabout junction with A491 Sandy Lane to a point 298 metres north of its junction with Swan Lane.

The Order will come into operation on 12 August 2021.

Documents in relation to this Order can be downloaded at http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/bromsgrovepn; or copies supplied by emailing roadtrafficregs@worcestershire.gov.uk; or writing to me at County Hall.

Thomas Pollock, Head of Commercial Law, Legal and Governance, County Hall, Spetchley Road, Worcester WR5 2NP

4 August 2021

Revised Speed Limit Order Creating 40 mph Buffer Zone

Worcestershire County Council are to consider making an Order the effect of which will be to IMPOSE a 40 MPH on the following length of road in Fairfield: –B4091 Stourbridge Road from a point 81.5m south of its roundabout junction with A491 Sandy Lane to a point 298m north of its junction with Swan Lane, i.e. the north village planter, where the current 30 mph zone starts. For details visit CLICK HERE.

Any objection/representations you may have must be sent in writing to County Hall, or email roadtrafficregs@worcestershire.gov.uk; to be received by 23 June 2021.

Fairfield Village Community Association welcomes this revised proposal. The Association will continue to lobby for additional much needed traffic calming engineering works.

Traffic Calming – Message from FVCA Chairman

Residents may wish to see the notice that has been placed on the FVCA website today (10th March 2021) detailing the proposed revised 40 mph plan, please do have your say and inform WCC if the revised plan is acceptable, http://fvca.org.uk/notices/tro-update-revised-proposed-plans/.

FVCA have pushed for a 40 mph buffer to the planter from Stoneybridge Island, and so welcome this more sensible proposal.

Of course, more needs to be done to reduce the speed of vehicles entering and driving through the community.

The Parish Council are considering the proposal to replace the VAS with one that displays the vehicle speeds. If installed it will use the current VAS site and electricity supply.

It has been suggested that we should adopt a gated entrance, and funding has been offered to part support the purchase of the gates – an offer that been made previously from our County Councillor’s Divisional Fund. To date, both FVCA and the Parish Council have been reluctant to spend any additional money on what studies have said may be ineffective.  Studies have shown that gated entrances can reduce speeds by up to 6% should certain other road conditions be met and if sited in the correct position. The entrances of our village do not meet the required conditions.   And, with the speed that some vehicles enter the village at (in excess of 50 & 60 mph), any speed reduction needs to be greatly more than 6%.  Another factor to consider is that regular drivers through a community get so used to seeing the gates that they take no notice, driving on “autopilot”, and most driver found speeding through our village are regular users of Stourbridge Road.

FVCA strongly believes that meaningful traffic calming should be adopted that will actually slow down all vehicles, preferring Road Speed Tables that have the support of the emergency services and other groups.   The Road Speed Tables just before the village, near the planters, will reduce vehicle speeds entering the village and will slow down vehicles exiting the village, making the road safer for residential properties nearby.  Road Speed Tables could also be installed at other strategic locations, but with regard to properties and minimising any unintended consequences.  Should Speed Tables, or any traffic calming measures, be considered by Worcestershire County Council, FVCA believes that residents should be consulted.

Residents may wish to read https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/traffic-calming-ltn-107  which gives the Department of Transport pros and cons for various traffic calming measures. Hopefully by reading this document you will understand why we have not pushed for some other traffic calming measures.

It is worth noting that when discussions have taken place with County Cllr Shirley Webb and Richard Clewer (Worcestershire Highways), they have both refused any traffic calming works (except gates).  FVCA and the Parish Council’s Traffic Calming working group have even turn round and said if they will not fund Speed Tables, what will they fund and install, so far the answer is zilch.

In the past 5 years, not one traffic calming measure, including visits by the Police Speed Enforcement Unit, has been supported.  FVCA battled for the speed enforcement visits to take place.  Until nearly 5 years ago, even though 30 mph signs were displayed at both ends of the village, the police would only stop and give you a verbal warning if driving above the speed limit, they could not fine a motorist as the TRO was non-compliant.  Thankfully FVCA lobbied for the TRO to be compliant, MR. Clewer arranged for the installation of the appropriate signs in the correct locations and now motorists are fined, etc if found exceeding the speed limit. 

County Council election will take place on 6th May.  Candidates/existing Councillors need your votes, perhaps saying what you want to hear.  Something that you could do is ask the candidates for a written/email commitment that they will not oppose and will fight for meaningful traffic calming engineering works in Fairfield Village.   If they agree and provide the statement then do not honour their written commitment that can be held against them, perhaps at a future election.

TRO Update – Revised Proposed Plans

Fairfield Village Community Association have now received sight of the original and draft revised plans to create a 40 mph buffer between Stoneybridge Island and Fairfield village along the Stourbridge Road.

The initial proposal, as detailed below, was to have a 40 mph buffer to Orchard Farm. As previously reported the Community Association, Worcestershire Highways have admitted that there was a procedural error with the original consultation.

As further consultation is required, Worcestershire Highways are taking the opportunity to consider a revised proposal, having taken account of concerns expressed by some local residents. The revised proposal is for the 40 mph buffer from Stoneybridge Island to the (north) village planter, where the current 30 mph zone commences, see image below.

A formal consultation is required, and we await the public notice that should details the Traffic Regulation Order, which will include the exact legal start and finish of the new 40 mph zone. 

Residents may wish to comment on the draft plans. Any objection/representations you may have must be sent in writing to Thomas Pollock, Head of Commercial Law, Legal and Governance at County Hall, or email roadtrafficregs@worcestershire.gov.uk

TRO Update

We have been notified that Worcestershire Highways have acknowledged that there has been a procedural error regarding the B4091 speed change between Stoneybridge Island and village entrance, a new consultation will take place.
Please keep an eye on the County Council’s Public Notices page, CLICK HEREResidents are encouraged to respond.
It is understood that Worcestershire Highways are now prepared to consider keeping the start of the 30 mph zone at the planter, rather than move the start to the entrance of Orchard Farm, should it be the wish of the community. It is very important that you have your say.
Fairfield Village Community Association would like to thank all those residents that emailed the Legal and Governance department at County Hall, your actions have helped focus the minds of the people behind the TRO amendment.

Gully Update

Reported blocked gullies in Third Road have been cleared.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Swan Lane; a couple have been cleared, one has had the mud cleared from the top of the grid yet there is still mud just below the grid, a couple have been partially “wiped over” and there are still hidden grids that are beneath the mud that has slid from the roadside.  The broken gully grid has still not been replaced and the gully by the gas pipeline is still blocked.

Whether another return return visit is being scheduled, who knows? 

There is still no news regarding repairs to the Swan Lane pot holes and road erosion.

Swan Lane, Third Road & Wood Lane Repairs and Improvements Update

See below email that received on 4th March in response to the Community Association’s email 7th February.

From: Clewer, Richard
Sent: 04 March 2021 08:06
To: chair@fvca.org.uk
Cc: Benson, Rachael
Subject: FW: Outstanding Repairs & Improvements to Swan Lane & Wood Lane, Fairfield

Dear Mr Palmer

I am sure you will appreciate that covid restriction together with the recent floods and bad weather have both severely restricted and pressurised our operational ability.

An inspector has visited site this week and new orders have been raised to jet the blocked gullies reported in both Swan Lane and Third Road together with the repair of the damaged covers. Whilst I have yet to receive firm dates for this I would hope that it will be done within the next 28 days.

As previously explained we are unable to dictate to road users directions they wish to take to access the commercial units however signs have been ordered to indicate to drivers leaving the commercial units the direction of the M5 via Wildmoor Lane. I will follow up with the traffic management team as to where we are with these.

Changes to local speed limits require the support of the local member you may wish to discuss with Cllr Webb the speed limit in Swan Lane. However although Swan Lane is derestricted drivers are expected to drive to the conditions of the road. Swan Lane is a typical rural county lane with little development of it and therefore will fit the current speed limits according to the Dept for Transport guidance.

As previously reported, we are aware of the signs directing traffic away from Wildmoor Mill and that Third Road has been assessed.

Mr. Clewer’s email does not mention the blocked Wood Lane gully.  It is not clear whether the jetting of the gullies on Swan Lane will include the unblocking of grids, replacing a broken grid, clearing the blocked gully near the gas pipeline, reconstructing the parts of Swan Lane that have eroded away, filling in pot holes and preventing further mother slide on to the road.

The response to the Swan Lane speed limit is poor; the speed of traffic driving along Swan Lane and the need for a reduced speed limit has been mentioned to County Councillor Shirley Webb previously and the Department of Transport guidance Setting local speed limits paragraph 127 states:

127) Table 2 sets out recommended speed limits for roads with a predominant motor traffic flow function. If walking, cycling, horse riding, community or environmental factors are particularly important on any road section, consideration should be given to using the lower limit.

Table 2 Speed limits for single carriageway roads [footnote 8] with a predominant motor traffic flow function

Speed limit (mph)Where limit should apply:
60Recommended for most high quality strategic A and B roads with few bends, junctions or accesses.
50Should be considered for lower quality A and B roads that may have a relatively high number of bends, junctions or accesses. Can also be considered where mean speeds are below 50 mph, so lower limit does not interfere with traffic flow.
40Should be considered where there are many bends, junctions or accesses, substantial development, a strong environmental or landscape reason, or where there are considerable numbers of vulnerable road users.

The Department of Transport guidance suggests that Swan Lane can be considered for a 40 mph speed limit, due to, and not exclusively to, the bends, landscaping (that provide low light) and vulnerable road users – due to the nature of the road the speed limit could be lowered even further, Swan Lane between the “Devil’s Steps” and Mill Lane forms part of the Monarch’s Way and is used by walkers, including older people walking their dogs, and Swan Lane is often used by horse riders.

Residents may wish to lobby County Councillor Webb and Worcestershire County Council requesting the required repairs and improvements.

FVCA Response to Amending TRO from Stoneybridge Island

Fairfield Village Community Association have become aware of a report given by our County Council to the Parish Council at a meeting of the Parish Council that was held on Monday 1st February, the minutes state:

“C.Cllr. Webb advised that the Traffic Regulation Order (Speed limit reduction from National Speed Limit to 40m.p.h.) for the Stourbridge Road from the Stoneybridge island to the circa the Fairfield village boundary had finished its consultation process, with no objections recorded. She will advise when the signage is to be erected.”

Is “circa the Fairfield village boundary” the planter or as previously suggested moving the 30 mph sign to the entrance of Orchard Farm?

Fairfield Village Community Association have today (1st March 2021) sent an email to Legal Services at County Hall, the contents of our email are below.

If you wish to question that a fit and proper consultation has not taken place, email legalservices@worcestershire.gov.uk (if you could keep us in the loop, it would be appreciated).


Thomas Pollock

Head of Commercial Law, Legal and Governance

Worcestershire County Council

Dear Mr. Pollock,

On Friday 26th February 2021, we became aware of the draft Belbroughton and Fairfield Parish Council minutes of 1st February 2020 that records during the item “County and District Councillors reports” the following:

“C.Cllr. Webb advised that the Traffic Regulation Order (Speed limit reduction from National Speed Limit to 40m.p.h.) for the Stourbridge Road from the Stoneybridge island to the circa the Fairfield village boundary had finished its consultation process, with no objections recorded. She will advise when the signage is to be erected.”

Fairfield Village Community Association and residents that we have spoken to over the past few day are unaware of any formal consultation taking place.  Please tell us:

  • What was formally being proposed and has been allegedly agreed?
  • What consultation took place, including dates of consultation and who was approached?
  • What public media was used to promote the consultation and how were members of the public notified of the plans to amend the TRO?

Fairfield Village Community Association had wind of a possible amendment of the TRO in 2019, voicing our concern at a Parish Council working group meeting.

The Association mentioned the possible amendment of the TRO in our email to Mr. J. Hobbs, Director of Economy and Infrastructure, Worcestershire County Council, dated 9th February 2020:

“We are informed that there are plans to reduce the speed limit on the approach to the village from Stoneybridge Island.  This proposed reduction to 40mph is welcomed, however, we strongly object to moving the 30mph marker closer to the village, to the entrance to Orchard Farm, which is at the brow of the road.”

On 5th May 2020, we received a copy of a report that County Councillor Shirley Webb sent the Parish Council (email below, report attached) in which Cllr. Webb writes:

“TRO from Stoneybridge Island, consultation has started to reduce speed from 60 to 40 mph up to nearby Orchard farm when the speed will then change to 30MPH.  Relining of the road will also take place to give the impression the lane is not as wide.  New painted road signs will also be done at the same time.”

On the 15th May 2020 we sent Cllr. Webb a response to her report, which includes our comment regarding amending the TRO:

“You state that a consultation has started. As yet the community have not received official notification of what is being proposed. We look forward to receiving and circulating the consultation document. From briefings received to date, we have strong reservations regarding increasing the speed limit from 30mph to 40mph on that stretch of Stourbridge Road between the north planter and Orchard Farm, a point on Stourbridge Road that is a blind spot with brow in the road and nearby access points from residential properties, a farm and a pub.”

According to the Parish Council minutes of 7th December 2020, Cllr. Webb advised:

“The Traffic Regulation Order to reduce the speed limit on the entrance to Fairfield from the Stoneybridge island was due to start its six week consultation process. Provided there were no objections this should come into force by the end of January 2021.”

Fairfield Village Community Association regular view the County Council’s Public Notices webpage https://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/directory/34/public_notices_directory/category/105   where other TRO consultation notices are listed, we have not seen any notice regarding amending the TRO on Stourbridge Road.

As regulations require consultation with ‘such other organisations (if any) representing persons likely to be affected by any provision in the order’, any decision that has been made is must be considered null and void, and an appropriate consultation should take place that includes a full risk assessment due to hazardous nature of what is being proposed.

We look forward to your timely reply.

Yours sincerely,

Conrad

Conrad Palmer

Chairman

Fairfield Village Community Association & Neighbourhood Watch Group

Swan Lane Update

FVCA have been chasing Worcestershire County Council regarding the ongoing outstanding work on Swan Lane.

The Council have provided the following responses:

Blocked Gully at bottom of Swan Lane, near gas pipeline

“This has been placed on a list for ditch digging. The drains on the plan do not work just not as efficiently as they should until the ditch is dug out.”

Blocked gully grids

“The drainage team have advised that they have broken connections along this road and that there are few broken lids, as well as the pot holes that have been marked up for repair.

Having inspected the lane, there are a lot of the gullies are covered in mud. In order to get all of the above addressed, the team are looking to put in place a road closure . At present there is not an advised timeframe for this.”

Unsuitable for HGVs sign

“As for the additional sign- we are looking into it. The consideration is for a sign to be in place when coming out of farm.” [FVCA have asked for clarification regarding sign location]

Weight Limit

“It is advised there is no reason for weight limit to be implemented, as these have to be associated with a weak structure.”

Speed Limit Reduction

“Finally, with regards to the consideration of a speed limit reduction, I have been advised that this is not feasible. The location is derestricted, meaning that drivers should be driving at the appropriate speed to the road, and not at the drivers discretion.” 

FVCA have responded as follows “According to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 section 82 traffic authorities have the powers to remove restricted road status – a restricted road being where “there is provided on it a system of street lighting furnished by means of lamps placed not more than 200 yards apart”, Swan Lane has no street lighting.

Swan Lane is a narrow, winding, low light road, that is regularly used by pedestrians, horse riders as well as motorists; pedestrians are mainly older people.  According to Department of Transport guidance Setting local speed limits paragraph 127 it suggests that Swan Lane can be considered for a 40 mph speed limit, due to, and not exclusively to, the bends, landscaping (that provide low light) and vulnerable road users.  We, therefore, request a reduction in speed limit, in accordance with Department for Transport guidelines.”

Crossing Yew Tree Lane

Due to there being no dropped kerb, the elderly and people with mobility aids have found it difficult to cross Yew Tree Lane at the junction with Stourbridge Road, requiring these pedestrians to cross Stourbridge Road, twice if they wish to get back onto the original side of the road.  The Community Association and the Parish Council, over several years, have asked for a dropped kerb to be installed.

In the County Councillor report of May 2020, Cllr. Webb writes:  “There is very limited visibility when crossing Yew Tree Lane from the direction of number 25 Stourbridge Road. The whole idea of a dropped kerb would be to accommodate the likes of a mobility buggy, bearing in mind that the occupant would be seated up to 800mm from the front of the buggy they would have to drive onto the road before they could see around the corner, which could result in them being hit by an oncoming vehicle. For this reason the specialist team have drawn up a scheme that crosses the Stourbridge Road. The cost of such a scheme will be in the region of £10,000.”

The Community Association in a response dated 15th May wrote “Considering that traffic surveys in 2016, 2017 & 2018, taken adjacent to 24 Stourbridge Road, record vehicles driving in excess of 40mph, between the hours of 7am and 7pm, with some vehicles driving at speeds in excess of 50 & 60mph, such a proposal does raise eyebrows. We would not want to put someone at unnecessary risk crossing such a fast road.”.  The Community Association asked for sight of the proposal and requested “sight of the proposals and that a consultation takes place with the community and local equality access groups.”.  The Community Association are “very concerned that any proposal to make individuals cross the Stourbridge Road will means that they will have to cross Stourbridge Road twice to get back to the side of the road for the Post Office etc instead of just crossing Yew Tree Lane once. We are quite certain that it would be very much safer for a mobility scooter to cross Yew Tree Lane once than cross Stourbridge Road twice. We are happy to discuss local proposals, which would need local consultation.”

The Community Association have now received a copy of the proposal plans, below, that will require pedestrians – the elderly and those with mobility aids – to cross the busy and at times fast Stourbridge Road twice.  The pavement at the points of crossing will be tactile.

The Community Association welcomes your feedback on the proposals, email admin@fvca.org.uk.  You can also contact our Divisional County Councillor, Cllr. Shirley Webb, by emailing SWebb2@worcestershire.gov.uk

Traffic Update – May 2020

Fairfield Village Community Association would like to make available to residents recent communication between the Association and our County Councillor regarding local traffic issues.

At the beginning of May 2020, Cllr. Webb circulated her Fairfield Report:

The Community Association, having considered the message received from residents at the Association’s AGM on 7th March, responded to the report raising ongoing issues, challenging some of the report’s content and seeking answers:

On the 22nd May 2020, The Community Association received a response from Cllr. Webb, which will be considered by the FVCA Committee.

As always, the Association seeks the views of residents to help formulate any further responses and actions. Please email admin@fvca.org.uk or message via Facebook.

Would a Crossing Solve the Problem?

When Crossings were discussed in 2016, former County Councillor Sheila Blagg informed the Community Association that to install a Crossing would cost in excess of £100,000.
 
An installed Crossing would only slow vehicles down should someone be crossing or about to cross at that point.  The Crossing would only serve as a safe crossing point at that point along Stourbridge Road.
 
Should funding be found for a Crossing (a minimum 10 year waiting list and not guaranteed) and agreed by the Community, the Crossing would be sited near School Drive and there would be some potential negative consequences, e.g. either side of the crossing would be no parking zig zags that would stop vehicles parking alongside the church wall, the only place in the village where parking in the village is the most convenient.  Further lack of convenient parking may have an impact on village retail outlets and will push more School Parents parking onto narrow side roads, something that is going to get worse with up to an additional 35 vehicles coming in to the village each day with the school expansion. 
 
Parking and Speeding are big issues and requires a mixture of measures to help make Stourbridge Road safer for the whole length through the village and not for just one point.  The Community Association is pushing for Road Traffic Tables at strategic locations, e.g. at the village entrance.
 
Like you, the Community Association is frustrated at the lack of speed to get issues addressed.  Getting the County Council to spend the required money in Fairfield is a painful process.