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Residents object to ‘dangerous’ on-road cycle route and crossing
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
RESIDENTS of Colyford expressed their serious concerns about the proposed toucan crossing and Stop Line Way cycle route through the village at a public meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
Particular concerns included the safety of cyclists and walkers on the on-road section of the route, which will cross the “dangerous” Colyford bridge and tramway level crossing. Residents are also objecting to the position of the proposed toucan crossing, which will be installed on the Swan Hill Road section of the A3052 just below an existing pedestrian refuge crossing.
The Stop Line Way cycle route will run from Seaton to the north coast of Somerset, visiting Colyford, Whitford and Axminster. It is proposed to arrive in Colyford through the Axe Wetlands and join Seaton Road before passing the Post Office and and turning right down the A3052, passing over Colyford Bridge and the level crossing and turning down Cownhayne Lane towards Whitford. This would include creating traffic calming measures on the bridge, where priority would be given to those driving out of the village at a pinch point.
Devon County Council previously suggested a route through Orchard Close but Colyford residents objected to this as it was a private lane and the route was changed. Residents are now hoping to change the route again so it is completely off-road with a suggested alternative being put together by the Burgesses of Colyford.
This alternative route would not join Seaton Road but go off-track and continue through the Wetlands. It would then join the tramway, go over the level crossing and continue alongside the tram track for about 100 yards before turning off further up Cownhayne Lane, where flooding is not so much of an issue.
Residents are also hoping the toucan crossing can be moved further up the A3052 between Colyford Memorial Hall and the church, as stated in the Colyton Parish Plan.
About 80 residents attended the meeting at Colyford Memorial Hall to hear the current proposals and raise their concerns with county councillor Sara Randall-Johnson. The meeting was chaired by Colyton parish councillor Howard West and among those attending were the Mayor of Colyford, John Mills, lead campaigner Clive Stone, parish councillors, Colyford Burgesses and East Devon district councillors.
Opening the meeting, Mr West said: “I think none of us are in principal opposed to the Stop Line Way. We think it’s good for the area, good for Seaton and we do not object in principal to the Stop Line Way.
“I think we are all here as a body because we are very concerned about the part of the route on the road. There has not really been any public discussion on the on-road route.”
Mr Stone then gave a presentation pointing out the dangers of the proposed on-road route. He said that where the cycle route joined Seaton Road was just after a speed limit change and a bend, that there was a lot of traffic at the Post Office, the bridge was very narrow and that Cownhayne Lane often flooded.
After the presentation, Mr West continued: “I think there are two main problems that worry us. Firstly the toucan crossing, which is basically a few yards below the existing one. It will only be of use to those who live east of Seaton Road and north of the A3052. I don’t think we will use it. We need some form of pedestrian crossing to the west of Seaton Road and the ideal position, which was in the parish plan, would be somewhere here, between the hall and the church.
“The second real problem of the route is the pinch point at the bridge. It’s already a very nasty piece of road with the pub, pub car park, no pedestrian path and tramway. It’s best that we don’t use the A3052 at all and we use an off-road route. We have spoken to five landowners and they are all agreed in principal to an off-road route.”
Mr West said they were keeping full details of the route confidential because it involved private landowners.
Councillor Randall-Johnson then gave her own presentation about the proposed route. She said: “In the ideal world we would take the whole route off-road but we don’t live in the ideal world.”
Speaking on the toucan crossing, Councillor Randall-Johnson said this was specifically related to the amount of cyclists that would be visiting the village and that the volume of traffic and pedestrians on the A3052 was “not enough to warrant a toucan crossing” specifically for pedestrians.
“I agree that it would be lovely for the crossing to be here. It’s what everyone wants but, practically, for Highways there is no budget because the volume of traffic and pedestrians doesn’t warrant it,” she added.
Continuing on the proposed route concerns, she said: “An off-road route is something we would like to achieve and we will be working with the Burgesses to make this happen in the future.”
Mayor John Mills then read a letter from MP for Tiverton and Honiton Neil Parish, which he received that morning following Mr Parish’s recent visit to the village. In it he asked the county council to consider putting the crossing further up the A3052 and to “look seriously” at a different cycle way through Colyford with an “open mind”.
Councillor Randall-Johnson said she was “quite upset” with Mr Parish for not sending her a copy of the letter.
Councillor Jefferies, who spoke on behalf of Seaton Tramway and not the district council, said there was provision and space for a cycleway next to the tram track, which they would lease for no charge.
“The area down by the bridge is a dangerous, dangerous area. What we would hate to see is what we had the same problem with at Weycroft Mill in Axminster until someone died and then we sorted out traffic lights,” he added.
Councillor Godbeer said: “I looked at these plans at a previous exhibition and it disturbed me to see how it was routed through the village and past the White Heart. In further discussions with the tram and countryside team I realised there was an alternative and when I came to another meeting I sketched out this route. I did not know the Burgesses had been working on this as well. What we produced was almost exactly the same.
“There was not enough consultation done at the time and now we are paying the price.”
Councillor Godbeer suggested his own alternative route of heading directly up Pope’s Lane rather than turning right onto Seaton Road. He said the toucan crossing could then be positioned between the Memorial Hall and church but this would not solve the on-road problem.
“If it is off-road you will not get the crossing,” he said. “You have to make a choice, do you push the county council for the crossing further up the road or for an off-road route?”
One resident argued that the current proposed site for the pedestrian crossing “discriminated” against the residents of Colyford. “Why should the safety of cyclists be put above that of local residents?” she asked.
Councillor Parr continued: “I don’t think there is anyone is this room who doesn’t want an off-road route. Way back when county council were trying to find a way from Seaton Road to Cownhayne Lane they worked on an off-road route and unfortunately, they reluctantly had to come up with another route. None of us want the cyclists on the road.
“I want to see this cycle way in place as soon as possible but what I’m really going to press for is a written undertaking that they are only doing this on-road route as a temporary measure to get the route going, but will work with the Burgesses for this decent, off-road, preferred route.”
Resident Dennis Baker said: “For a number of years I have been trying to get a pedestrian crossing in Colyford only to be told the county council has no money. However, Sara Randall Johnson said to me a couple of years ago that if she was elected she would make it a priority to get a crossing.
“The people of Colyford are the electors and pay the council tax so they should be considered. A lot of elderly and disabled people in the village who cannot cross the road. We are the only village on this A-road that doesn’t have a crossing.”
Mr West asked: “We don’t warrant a crossing so why does Sidford and Newton Poppleford?”
Councillor Randall-Johnson said this was probably due to the accident rate in these villages.
Colyton parish councillor Bob Collier urged residents not to settle for “second best” or a compromise. He said that the proposed route across the narrow bridge would not work as it looked on paper.
Fellow councillor Ken Clifford added: “We are going to be left with a cheap alternative and, as they say in this area, the money never comes up Trow Hill!”
Mr West said: “A lot of money will be spent on modifications to the A3052. It will be better saved and spent on the alternative route.”
He asked residents if they would be willing to forgo the toucan crossing and have it across the level crossing instead, to which many agreed.
Councillor Randall-Johnson said: “I think Howard has misled you a little on that vote. If only life was that simple. I hear what you’re saying about the crossing on the tramway but I have no idea if that is deliverable.”
She said that the county council had been working on an off-road route from the beginning but had come against problems with the Environment Agency because of the flood plane and with the rail authority involving the tramway.
“None of the sections across the county are completely off-road,” she continued. “County does now have some funds to spend in Colyford and I’m hearing you don’t want our input.”
Residents disagreed with this statement.
Councillor Randall-Johnson said that she would agree to a written statement saying that the county council would continue to work on a preferred route with the Burgesses, that the council would offer any help the Burgesses needed with technical drawings and that she would work to have the 30 mile per hour sign on Seaton Road moved back and possibly changed to 20 miles per hour.
Mr West said: “I get the impression the lady is not really for turning but there’s perhaps a glimmer of hope.”
Mr Mills said he hoped something concrete could be set up to take the issue forward, adding: “I’m worried that you will go back to county hall, we will go home and wait another six months for something to happen.”
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