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Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions and Other Communications

(a) To receive any questions or petitions from the public, or communications submitted by the Lord Mayor or the Chief Executive and to pass such resolutions thereon as the Council Procedure Rules permit and as may be deemed expedient.

 

(b) Petition Requiring Debate

 

The Council’s Petitions Scheme requires that any petition containing over 5,000 signatures be the subject of debate at the Council meeting.  A qualifying petition has been received as follows:-

 

Petition regarding Road Safety on Hangingwater Road/Safe Walking to School Route

To debate an electronic petition (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/safe-footpath-crossing-at-the-junction-of-hangingwater-whiteley-wood-road-sheffield-1) containing 6,332 supporters (as at 27th September) calling on the Council to implement road safety measures on Hangingwater Road including a footpath and crossing at the junction of Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road.   There is also an e-petition on this issue on the Council’s website, and the wording on that e-petition is as follows:-

 

We the undersigned petition the Council to 1. Implement road safety measures on Hangingwater Road including a footpath and crossing at the junction of Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road and 2. Provide school bus transport from Fulwood / Nether Green to High Storrs School.

 

High Storrs is the closest catchment school for Nether Green and Fulwood.  However the walking route has no footpath in places and no crossings. There is concern amongst parents about the safety of this route, which is likely to lead to increased traffic congestion in the area if parents decide to drive their children to school.”

Minutes:

5.1

Ordinary Petitions

 

 

5.1.1

Petition Supporting the Flood Defence Plan in Oughtibridge

 

 

 

The Council received a petition containing 44 signatures supporting the Flood Defence Plan in Oughtibridge.

 

 

 

Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Terry Barrow who referred to flooding of the River Don which had occurred in 2007 and to the dislocation of people from their homes, closure of the Park and loss of the pavilion. Some nine years after that event, a new pavilion had been built and people were back living in their homes. However, there was fear of the reoccurrence of flooding and potential effect on homes on Station Road and Waterside Gardens, where families lived whose homes had been so affected by flooding. The 44 people that had signed the petition included those people whose homes and businesses had been affected by the events in 2007.

 

 

 

The Council was asked to support the Flood Defence Plan in order to protect homes on Station Road and Waterside Gardens, the Oughtibridge War Memorial Sports Ground and pavilion from flooding in the future. Within the plan, which was subject to consultation, it was proposed that Coronation Park and the Sports Ground be designated as a flood storage area. The Plan would properly protect residents and businesses and provide benefits for areas of the City which were further downstream.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Bryan Lodge, the Cabinet Member for Environment. Councillor Lodge thanked the petitioners for bringing this matter to the Council. He said that the Flood Defence Plan was concerned with protecting people, property and business from flooding and utilising the natural flood plains and protecting some areas with defences. Consultation was being undertaken in relation to a scheme for the Sheaf and Upper Don and he would make sure that the views of petitioners were included as part of the responses to that consultation. He recalled the loss of life and devastation which had occurred in Sheffield during the floods of 2007.

 

 

 

Schemes and ideas were being considered and put in place to manage and regulate the flow of water from the moors, to slow the flow of water and rivers and this included the use of areas of parkland as flood storage areas. It was intended that facilities in these areas were improved and that the speed of recovery following their use as flood storage areas also be enhanced. Drainage and resilience would also be improved so as to protect people, their homes and property.

 

 

5.1.2

Petition Objecting to the Withdrawal of Grant Aid Funding to the Mental Health Action Group Sheffield

 

 

 

The Council received a joint electronic and paper petition containing 689 signatures objecting to the withdrawal of grant aid funding to the Mental Health Action Group Sheffield.

 

 

 

Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Tim Jones who said that the Mental Health Action Group Sheffield (MHAGS) represented and cared for the most vulnerable people in society with mental health issues. It was a user-led organisation which catered for those with no similar alternative provision. Mr Jones said that the Action Group had felt marginalised and unfairly treated by the Council in the past and had previously been moved to premises that were considered to be unsuitable and sub-standard.

 

 

 

The organisation had successfully campaigned for concessionary bus passes for people with mental health conditions. The support which it gave to people was also thought to have saved the Council considerable sums of money

 

 

 

Stephanie Milnes said that she had been close to suicide when she began accessing the support at the mental Health Action Group. She now helped to run it and said that it was devastating to think that the funding which the Council gave to it would cease.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Jack Scott, the Cabinet Member for Community Services and Libraries. Councillor Scott thanked the petitioners. He said that he agreed with some of the comments that had been made about the stigma sometimes attached to mental health issues. He said that the Mental Health Action Group had a huge positive impact on the people it helped. He also concurred that MHAGS saved the Council more money than the value of the grant that the Council made.

 

 

 

Councillor Scott confirmed that the financial grant which MHAGS received in 2016/17 was £10,500 and this would be in place until the end of March 2017. The grant had been made for one year and there certainly were no plans to withdraw it for 2016/17.

 

 

 

With regards to the grant for 2017/18, 22 organisations would have to apply for a grant in order that the process was fair. He said that he expected an excellent application from MHAGS as part of that process. However, each organisation making an application would have to go through the same process to make sure it was transparent and fair. There were issues which had to be looked at, such as that the grant awarded to organisations like MHAGS sometimes came back to the Council in the form of rent and discussions could be held in relation to the possibility of rent-free options for the organisation.

 

He said that it was important that mental health issues were raised and that MHAGS were effective in doing so. Councillor Scott said that he looked forward to meeting with members of MHAGS.

 

 

5.1.3

Petition Requesting Action in Connection with Anti-Social Behaviour in the Kirton Road Area

 

 

 

The Council received a petition containing 26 signatures requesting action in connection with anti-social behaviour in the Kirton Road area.

 

 

 

Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Anne Wyatt who explained that residents of Kirton Road and Scott Road, S4 and Pitsmoor were experiencing significant problems with anti-social behaviour and, in particular, the large number of children that gathered and played on the street, including many who were not resident on Kirton Road. This included noise nuisance at all times of the day and ball games played on the pavement directly outside and against houses and from off road bikes; damage to properties and cars; intimidation of pedestrians and passers-by; littering, including broken and abandoned toys, and fly-tipping.

 

 

 

At recent residents’ meetings, solutions which had been discussed included the need for signs about ball games and dumping rubbish and litter in the area around the end of Kirton Road; and the need for more information about whether selective licensing was an option which could help improve the neighbourhood for everyone.

 

 

 

The Council referred the petition to Councillor Jayne Dunn, the Cabinet Member for Housing. Councillor Dunn stated that the local ward Councillors (Councillors Jackie Drayton, Talib Hussain and Mark Jones) had also brought this issue to her attention. She would arrange a meeting to look at all of the possible solutions to the problems which had been raised by the petition, including selective licensing and she would also ask the Police to consider enforcement measures.

 

 

 

5.2

Public Questions

 

 

5.2.1

Public Questions Concerning Kashmir

 

 

 

Mohammad Imran stated that hospitals in troubled areas within Kashmir had declared a state of emergency in response to the rising numbers of casualties and thousands of people had been injured. There were reports that there were no proper medical facilities because the hospitals were unable to cope with greater numbers of casualties and the authorities did not allow people to travel to other parts of India to seek medical assistance. He asked whether the Council agreed that these were barbaric actions by the Indian Government.

 

 

 

Nazim Mohammad asked whether the Council believed that a permanent resolution to the Kashmir dispute according to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir through referendum would bring considerable benefits to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, India and Pakistan. He referred to high expenditure on defence as opposed to education. Such a permanent resolution would enhance peace and security in the region and bring comfort to many people in Sheffield with family connections in the region. He asked what the Council had done and what it could do on behalf of its constituents in relation to this issue.

 

 

 

Rabnawaz Khan stated that during the recent uprising, a curfew was imposed in all ten districts of the Kashmir Valley and mobile services were suspended by the government. The curfew, which was lifted on 31 August, lasted for 53 consecutive days. It was imposed again the very next day in many parts of the Valley. Police and Indian paramilitary forces used pellet guns, tear gas shells and rubber bullets and assault rifles, resulting in the deaths of more than 75 civilians, over 7,000 civilians had been injured and over 700 women and children and young people blinded. He asked why politicians were silent on the violation of human rights.

 

 

 

Mohammad Riaz said that there had been 85 years of continual struggle for self- determination and during that time 100,000 people had been killed and many displaced and women had been raped. He expressed disappointment that no voices were raised by politicians to put pressure on both India and Pakistan to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. He asked if the Council would send a message of solidarity to the victims and that it condemns the atrocities which had been committed in Kashmir.

 

 

 

Hameed Ur Rehman stated that there were human rights abuses in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir state, which ranged from mass killings, disappearances, torture, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. He said that people of Sheffield from the Kashmiri Community had friends and families living in areas of conflict where tension was building between India and Pakistan and there was a risk of war between both countries. He asked whether the Council was concerned about the safety and welfare of the relatives and friends of people in Sheffield.   

 

 

 

Javid Khan stated that Amnesty International had criticised Indian security forces for the use of arbitrary and excessive force to deal with the protests in Kashmir and it had also stated that the actions were a violation of international standards and were leading to a worsening of the human rights crisis there. Amnesty also criticised the use of pellet guns, stating that these had been used 100 times in Kashmir during the first week of September 2016 and it called for a ban on the use of pellet guns. He asked whether the Council would add its voice by writing to the Indian High Commission to protest and demand the ban of the use of pellet guns and an end to the violence.

 

 

 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of the Council, responded to the questions relating to Kashmir. She said that despite the availability of 24 hour news, it was not always known exactly what was happening in some parts of the world. Whereas, people in Sheffield with families and friends were well informed of events such as in Kashmir. What had been described was appalling and particularly as it was a situation affecting family and friends of a community in Sheffield. There was a large Kashmiri community in Sheffield and the people in that community brought so much to the City, as did other communities. Councillor Dore stated that she could not imagine what people were going through and she said that Members of the Council had the utmost sympathy for them.

 

 

 

The Council would do what it could locally and would speak to Government Ministers and to the MPs on the front benches of their respective parties in Westminster. Paul Blomfield MP had met with members of the Kashmiri community and there had also been meetings within her political group in Sheffield. It had been requested by some Councillors that a motion be submitted to the meeting of Council in November and that would be done. Councillor Dore confirmed that the Council would send a message to condemn the atrocities which had taken place in Kashmir. 

 

 

5.2.2

Public Question Concerning the Mental Health Action Group (MHAGS)

 

 

 

Alistair Tice stated that the Mental Health Action Group Sheffield had been informed by Council Officers that it would not receive a grant for 2017/18, whilst a funding pot of £107k was available for organisations which contributed to tackling poverty. However, the fund was of a limited size and there were a high number of organisations that were likely to bid. He said that he believed that it was possible for the Council to guarantee funding for the Action group.

 

 

 

Stuart stated that he was a member of the MHAGS Committee and in the time before he became a member of MHAGS, he stayed at home. His involvement with MHAGS helped him to be able to come to the Council meeting today. He asked how much it would cost if instead of receiving support from an organisation such as MHAGS, he was in hospital care.

 

 

 

M A Hill stated that he had been a member of MHAGS since 1992 and the organisation meant a lot to him. He said that without the support that it offered, life would be very difficult. Winter was a particularly hard time for people with mental health conditions and he asked where people would go to find support without MHAGS?

 

 

 

Julie Ingram stated that she had come from Barnsley to the Council meeting so as to support MHAGS. She asked the Council not to close it as it was needed by its members.

 

 

 

Councillor Jack Scott, the Cabinet Member for Community Services and Libraries, responded to the questions. He said that he understood the impact and importance of MHAGS and had heard powerful stories from people at this Council meeting. He commented that it was very brave of people to come the Council meeting and to speak about their personal circumstances. These were precisely the type of stories that the Council needed to hear about how MHAGS made a difference.

 

 

 

There were 22 groups which were funded at present and, in future, the Council wanted to provide funding for such groups for a period of three years. All of those groups did brilliant work and all of them saved the Council money and were of a high quality and did make a difference. It would not be fair to treat particular groups in a different way and it was right to ensure they were all treated equitably. The amount of grant aid which the Council had available was £1.6 million, which was much reduced compared with previous years. He said that he hoped that within any application that MHAGS submitted for grant funding, there was a clear reflection of the impact of the organisation on peoples’ lives. He said he was pleased to see representatives of MHAGS and looked forward to receiving an application from the organisation and meeting with them.

 

 

5.2.3

Public Question Concerning Flood Risk

 

 

 

Helen McIlroy asked whether the Council could say which examples, both national and international, had been used to inform the flood risk strategy and why those examples had been chosen.

 

 

 

Councillor Bryan Lodge, the Cabinet Member for Environment, stated that the Council was working with the Environment Agency and Arup Consultants in relation to flood defences and the work being done was recognised as most innovative by the Government. Examples of schemes both nationally and abroad were being considered to help draft the consultation on flood protection.

 

 

5.2.4

Public Questions Concerning Trees

 

 

 

Helen McIlroy stated that surveys of highways trees were conducted some time ago. She asked where a comprehensive list could be found of trees due to be felled and why information was only made available street by street and only to residents of that street. She referred to a figure which had been used of 143 trees which had been saved by the use of flexible paving. She asked for the location of those trees to be identified.  

 

 

 

Dave Dilner stated that it was the aim of the Sheffield Trees Action Group that  a comprehensive tree strategy be introduced which would help to save trees and this had been something which was promised nearly two years ago. The Chief Executive and Cabinet Member were asked separately about when a strategy would be produced and a press statement was made announcing that a draft tree strategy would be made available by the end of that week, although with no reference to a sub strategy for highway trees. Whereas, the Cabinet Member had said, when asked, that the strategy would be available by the end of the calendar year. Mr Dilner asked what was happening.

 

 

 

Councillor Bryan Lodge, the Cabinet Member for Environment, responded that information concerning street trees was made available street by street and to residents as works were to commence. The information was also published on the Council website including the advice of the Tree Panel.

 

 

 

As regards the tree strategy, a consultation draft strategy was released for consultation on 30 September. In responding to the enquiry concerning when a strategy document would be published, he had been mindful of the context in which dates had previously been subject to slippage and was aware that the strategy would be available by the end of the year. In the event, the Trees and Woodlands Strategy Consultation was published at the end of that week (30 September). Councillor Lodge urged people to take part in the consultation.

 

 

5.2.5

Public Question Concerning Taxis

 

 

 

Nigel Slack stated that an issue which he had raised in 2014, that of non-Sheffield taxis plying their trade in Sheffield and related safety issues, had been taken up by The Star newspaper and former Councillor Ibrar Hussain. He said that, as a result, the Council had found a partial solution to the problem with the new regulations on Sheffield Taxi Companies only supplying radio services to Sheffield Licensed taxis. Mr Slack stated that despite having been told there was no way to prevent the externally licensed taxis operating in the City, he was pleased that a solution had been found. He asked the Council to take up the other half of his concerns and that is to work, through the City Region structures, to bring all Sheffield’s partner Councils’ procedures up to Sheffield's standards.

 

 

 

Councillor Bryan Lodge, the Cabinet Member for Environment, responded that the Council placed utmost importance on safety of users of taxis and the Licensing Committee had worked on a policy. The Head of Licensing had done a considerable amount of work in this regard and had written to the Government Minister regarding the potential dangers of deregulation and would also meet with the Transport Minister in this regard. Councillor Lodge said that he had met with MPs and the Council would continue to lobby the Government to deal with elements of deregulation. It was important to have trust in the taxi trade and the Council was working with neighbouring local authorities and the Department of Transport. The Council’s Chief Licensing Officer had also approached other local authorities and the Department of Transport in relation to the problems associated with deregulation. The Council recognised the need to ensure a safe service for people in Sheffield in order that people felt safe and comfortable.

 

 

5.2.6

Public Question Concerning Parliamentary Constituency Boundaries

 

 

 

Nigel Slack asked whether the Council would be responding formally to the Boundary Commission regarding the proposals for changes to Sheffield's constituency boundaries and the proposed loss of one Sheffield MP.

 

 

 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of the Council, stated that the Council would be making a response to the proposals as would her own political Party.

 

 

5.2.7

Public Question Concerning Devolution

 

 

 

Nigel Slack referred to a new report from Middlesex and Sheffield Universities which had highlighted the concerns that the devolution deal may not be all it seemed and indeed may lead to further austerity. He said that the deal’s £900 million of new money will not compensate for the £1.1 billion already lost by the City Region’s Councils and will only be delivered over 30 years.

 

 

 

Most concerning, he said, was their assertion that rather than delivering powers that will regenerate the city economy: “... in practice the powers being devolved are often the supervision and delivery of a narrow section of policy activity, rather than allowing city regions any influence over the design, nature and implementation of policy and practice...”

 

 

 

Mr Slack asked whether the Council would consider this report most carefully before making the final commitment to the devolution deal and approving the draft order produced by the Secretary of State when it was presented to the City Region meeting later this month.

 

 

 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of the Council, responded to the question. She said that she was aware of the report about devolution and there had also been conferences and other reports on the subject. The financial resources available through the devolution deal did not replace those which had been available to Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). Whilst the RDAs were not perfect, the Coalition Government had put a stop to economic growth and had imposed a fifty percent reduction in real terms to local government funding, some of which had been used for economic development. There were other competing pressures on local government budgets, such as care for the elderly and the resources available for economic development had to be considered in this difficult budget context. The emphasis of the devolution deal for the City Region was an economic one rather than a deal which included welfare. However, the City Region did bid to include the Work Programme in the deal and employment programmes were something that might be discussed in the next round of devolution. 

 

 

 

There was a strong case for the Region to have a devolution deal which included skills for those aged 16-18 as well as other elements which were drivers of economic growth, including transport and connectivity. In summary, the £900 million in the devolution deal did not replace the resources which had already been lost. However, it did represent more than the Region had now. This would comprise capital, which could be drawn down; and revenue to enable investment in people through work and employment programmes, skills and targeting those people who found it difficult to access jobs.

 

 

 

Councillor Dore said that she agreed thatpowers being devolved could be seen as the supervision and delivery of nationally made policy decisions and direction. However, she said that local delivery was better even if it was within a nationally prescribed framework. The City Region would work with the Government on future devolution and investment in jobs and an inclusive economy.

 

 

5.3

Public Questions Concerning Road Safety Measures on Hangingwater Road

 

 

 

Jane Bollington asked if the Council was prepared to take responsibility for forcing children to take a longer route through a dark and secluded parkland, rather than crossing at Hangingwater Road.

 

 

 

Richard Bollington asked in reference to a Department for Education document, if the Council accepted that it had a legal obligation to deliver appropriate infrastructure to provide a safe walking route to school and did it consider the views of 6,500 people who had requested a crossing on Hangingwater Road.

 

 

 

Jo Mirza referred to information provided on the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport and City Council websites regarding routes to school. She asked whether the Council could say how children are supposed to get to High Storrs School from Fulwood and Nether Green safely, given that the crossing on Hangingwater Road was so dangerous.

 

 

 

Jane Robinson said that the police had concluded that the accident which had occurred at the junction on Hangingwater Road had been the fault of neither the driver nor the pedestrian. She asked how the Council would prevent a more serious accident from occurring at the Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road junction where 160 children crossed to access their local catchment school.

 

 

 

Dr Lindsey Jacobs told the Council that it was her daughter, Grace, who had been knocked over in the accident at the Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road junction. Grace had undergone a long period of rehabilitation following her injuries. She said that the costs quoted of £250K to install a crossing and footpath were five times more than a similar scheme in Totley and a similar schemes in Enfield and Reading had been implemented for between £25-50K. She asked for the costs to be explained.

 

 

 

A question was asked on behalf of Jason Thomson, as follows: On 13 June, Sheffield City Council encouraged children to walk to school. Councillor Drayton had said it was “healthier for children along with reducing traffic and pollution at peak times”. He asked, could the Council explain how the children could participate in this type of activity when there was no safe place to cross the road and how did the Council feel about the increase in traffic created by parents taking their children to High Storrs School.

 

 

 

Andrea Bramall asked a question on behalf of Anne Henshaw, as follows: Do the Council think it is acceptable to disregard 6,500 signatories who are united in their concern that the junction of Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road should have a footpath and crossing installed?

 

 

 

Sarah Bramall asked a question on behalf of Patricia Flowerdew, stating that she walked with her autistic son to Nether Green Junior School and was concerned that since the road improvements and tree felling, vehicles travelled faster. She asked if the path could be extended and a proper crossing installed.

 

 

 

Sarah Bramall stated that the Council acknowledged that the junction was dangerous and asked if the Council thought that this was acceptable, given that there was no safe alternative.

 

 

 

George Michael Bramall asked if the Council thought it was acceptable that school children had to cross at a point where there was a junction of two busy roads and no footpath and the Council had stated that it was unsafe to have a crossing patrol warden.

 

 

 

Steve Wilson referred to a Department of Transport report concerning the cost of people sustaining injuries where they had become casualties in road traffic accidents. He asked the Council to consider the costs of implementing a scheme to improve safety at the Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road junction in the light of the cost of a serious injury or even a loss of life.

 

 

 

The questions were referred to Councillor Mazher Iqbal, the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport to be answered as part of the debate concerning the petition requesting road safety measures on Hangingwater Road.

 

 

 

5.4

Petition Requiring Debate

 

 

5.4.1

Petition Requesting Road Safety Measures on Hangingwater Road

 

 

The Council received a joint paper and electronic petition containing 6,610 signatures, calling on the Council to implement road safety measures on Hangingwater Road, including a footpath and crossing at the junction of Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road.The Council’s Petitions Scheme required that any petition containing over 5,000 signatures would be the subject of debate at the Council meeting. The wording of the e-petition on this issue on the Council’s website was as follows:-

 

 

 

“We the undersigned petition the Council to 1. Implement road safety measures on Hangingwater Road including a footpath and crossing at the junction of Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road and 2. Provide school bus transport from Fulwood / Nether Green to High Storrs School.

 

High Storrs is the closest catchment school for Nether Green and Fulwood. However the walking route has no footpath in places and no crossings. There is concern amongst parents about the safety of this route, which is likely to lead to increased traffic congestion in the area if parents decide to drive their children to school.”

 

 

 

Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Martin Jacobs who introduced the petition and showed photographs of the location of Hangingwater Road and Whitely Wood Road. A document had also been circulated to Members of the Council containing further information.

 

 

 

The unique layout of the junction and footpath at Whiteley Wood Road and Hangingwater Road meant that pedestrians had to cross the junction diagonally across two roads. This was a walking route for children to get to and from School. Each day, 160 children from Fulwood and Nether Green travelled to High Storrs School using the route, requiring them to walk to the middle of the road in order to obtain a clearer view to be able to cross the road. The footpath ended at the T-Junction. The concerns about the safety of the crossing point at the junction came from parents, teachers, children, people who wished to access the Porter Valley for leisure, runners and cyclists. He said that people were frustrated with the situation.

 

 

 

Children and parents had to cross the road at this junction every week day to attend High Storrs School. The only alternative walking route to school was through secluded and unlit parkland. The City Council had told the petitioners that they could not advocate this as a safe access route to High Storrs School.

 

 

 

Mr Jacobs explained that his daughter, Grace, had been involved in an accident at the junction of Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road on her way to High Storrs School and she had gone through a lot of trauma and upset as a result. He said that in December 2015, his wife had taken a telephone call informing her that Grace had been bit by a car. He had arrived at the scene at the same time as the ambulance to find that Grace had suffered serious injuries, which included multiple fractures. She had sustained these injuries despite the fact that the car involved had been travelling at a speed of less than 20 mph. The driver of the car had slowed down and Grace had been hit by the car’s wing mirror. Car drivers were equally concerned about safety at the junction.

 

 

 

Mr Jacobs appealed to the Council to decide to take action in relation to safety at the junction of Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road. Some parents did have the option to drive their children to High Storrs School but that would only increase traffic and pollution. 

 

 

 

In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 13.1 (b), the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport responded to the petition, following which the Shadow Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport spoke on the matter.

 

 

 

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport, thanked Mr Jacobs and the petitioners for attending the Council meeting and submitting the petition. He also thanked Mr and Mrs Jacobs for inviting him to meet with them. He explained that he would outline the Council’s policy in relation to requests for highways schemes. He had met with the three local Councillors about this matter. A request for a pedestrian crossing had been made in 2011 and this was added to the list of requests for highways schemes. A further request was made by local Councillors in 2013, which was assessed and scored accordingly. There were no recorded accidents in the previous 5 years. Following the accident involving Grace in December 2015, a further assessment was carried out.

 

 

 

Councillor Iqbal explained the scoring criteria relating to highways schemes and the way the Council policy sought to address accident hotspots in the City. The Core Investment period of the Streets Ahead programme would reach its final year in 2017. Where it was possible, improvements to highways would be made as part of the programme.

 

 

 

The Council would consider submitted petitions fairly, regardless of the number of signatories. A number of people had said that the only walking route would include the Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road junction. However, there was an alternative route, which was safer but also longer. 

 

 

 

A number of actions had taken place since the accident had occurred in December 2015. A number of warning triangle signs had been erected, speed indicator devices installed and, earlier in the summer, it had been decided to extend the 20mph zone, so as to include Hangingwater Road.

 

 

 

Councillor Iqbal explained the financial constraints which limited the amount which could be allocated to highways and road safety schemes. Priority was given to providing resources for schemes in hotspots where accidents had occurred. The request for improvements to the crossing point at the Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road Junction had been assessed and had scored seven out of a maximum of nine. Councillor Iqbal outlined the number of requests which had been assessed and had resulted in scores ranging from six to nine. There were not enough resources available to progress highways schemes in relation to all of the requests which had been made.

 

 

 

However, as the Cabinet Member, he would review the transport programme and priorities to see if these were fit for purpose and try to identify if any resources could be made available. It was important to have a policy in place which enabled requests to be assessed against criteria and assisted evidence based and informed decision making.

 

 

 

The Shadow Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport then spoke on the matter and Members of the City Council then debated the matters raised by the petition, as summarised below:-

 

 

 

It was suggested that other resources might be available, which could be used to fund highways schemes of the type proposed on Hangingwater Road, including Better Bus funding and capital resources, which had been underspent in the past. It was put forward that local elected Members could be given influence over the programme for highways schemes.

 

 

 

The road layout at the Hangingwater Road and Whiteley Wood Road junction was the main concern. There was not a viable alternative route for children to use to walk to High Storrs School. Whilst an extension to the 20mph zone was welcome, the cause of the accident which had occurred in December 2015 was not due to speed. It was the Council’s responsibility to provide safe walking routes to schools.

 

 

 

The Council would look at the advice and information available to parents, including on websites, concerning safe walking routes to school. In practice, it was likely that people would wish to take the shortest journey possible to reach their destination. There were not adequate resources to deliver all highways schemes but the Council had committed to examine this case and to respond to the petitioners.

 

 

 

It was not acceptable to expect children to use the alternative route which had been suggested and they would be likely to take the shortest route. Local Councillors wished to work with the Cabinet Member to help find a solution so that the risk of another accident was much reduced. 

 

 

 

Members acknowledged how hard it will have been for her parents to talk about what had happened to Grace. The Council did wish for children to walk to school wherever possible and it was also important that the route was safe. The Council had criteria by which to assess proposed highways and road safety schemes in a way that was fair. The Cabinet Member had undertaken to look at the matter again and it was agreed that everyone should work together to find a solution within the financial resources which were available.  

 

 

 

Members were urged to walk the route to see for themselves what the issues were for pedestrians and motorists. Alternative options should be explored to slow vehicles and make them come to a stop.

 

 

 

It was important that the Council listened to people on this issue. It was considered that, if it was too dangerous to assign a school crossing patrol warden to the location on Hangingwater Road then it was also too dangerous for children to use as a route to school.

 

 

 

The route which school children used was established and they were unlikely to use an alternative longer route. Preventive measures should be examined to increase safety and priorities within the Streets Ahead programme should also be questioned.

 

 

 

The estimated costs of a highways scheme for a crossing and footpath should be challenged in the light of similar schemes which had been developed by other local authorities and to see whether there was a better and less expensive option.

 

 

 

The assessment criteria for highways schemes had been developed so as to ensure there was an objective method of considering potential schemes. The Council also needed to carefully consider other locations where there was a record of injuries or fatalities resulting from road traffic accidents. It was right that the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport looked at this matter again.

 

 

 

It was right that people had a safe place to cross the road and children and young people did not necessarily have a sense of danger so there was the potential for another accident to occur at this location.

 

 

 

The alternative walking route put by the Council was not adequate as it was secluded and dark, particularly in the winter. Reference was made to the Council’s responsibility under the Education Act to provide safe routes to school. It was considered that the Council could reprioritise in order to implement a crossing.

 

 

 

The Council might consider examining the criteria if it was thought to be wrong and to see if resources were available through the Local Transport Plan and Sustainable Transport Fund.

 

 

 

The lead petitioner, Mr Jacobs, exercised a right of reply. He stated that the route incorporating Hangingwater Road was the only route which children used to walk to High Storrs School. He said that people with a disability could not use that route.

 

 

 

Mr Jacobs referred to another scheme for a crossing at Furniss Avenue in Dore which had also received a score of seven when assessed and this had been implemented. The cost of that scheme, which included a zebra crossing, was £57K. He said that he believed that the Council could reprioritise spending and implement a crossing on Hangingwater Road. There was a real risk that someone else could be seriously hurt or killed if another accident occurred at that location.

 

 

 

Mr Jacobs said that he had requested the details of an alternative route on 12 January and was therefore disappointed that details of that route had only been made available today, before the Council meeting. The alternative route which the Council had provided was 3.1 miles in contrast to the current route, which was shorter at 1.3 miles. The guidelines relating to safe routes to school indicated that a reasonable walking distance for a journey to school was three miles or less.

 

 

 

Mr Jacobs referred to the Director of Public Health’s Annual Report, which encouraged physical activity. Mr Jacobs stated that in comparison to costs estimated by Sheffield City Council, Wiltshire County Council had implemented a zebra crossing for £16K.

 

 

 

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport, responded to matters which were raised during the debate. He said that it was important that decisions were based on the agreed criteria. There were many requests for highways schemes and therefore it was the Council’s responsibility to make sure that an open and transparent process was followed which took the relevant factors into consideration.

 

 

 

He acknowledged that such decisions were difficult to make and as Cabinet Member, he would take advice from officers. The junction of Whiteley Wood Road and Hangingwater Road was not normal and in a sense this was reflected in the amount (£250K to £300K) quoted to undertake the necessary works, based on the assessment which had been carried out.

 

 

 

In relation to other sources of funding, there were strict criteria relating to better bus funding, which was for improvements including bus punctuality. The funding had to be used for the intended purpose. As regards Capital underspends, projects were sometimes subject to delays and end dates might be extended.

 

 

 

The Council had considered alternative routes and extended the proposed 20 mph zone and used speed indicator devices. Street lighting stayed on for a longer time and came on earlier. Councillor Iqbal said that he needed time to look at the schemes in the programme and to consider whether there were any other options.

 

 

 

It was his responsibility to consider this request together with the 66 current requests for highways schemes. He would examine whether there was a resource and if, within the core investment programme of the Streets Ahead project, there was the opportunity of any available resource.

 

 

 

 

 

The outcome of the debate on the petition was as follows:-

 

 

 

Proposal 1

 

It was moved by Councillor Mazher Iqbal, seconded by Councillor Julie Dore, that this Council notes the petition calling on the Council to implement road safety measures on Hangingwater Road, and refers the petition to the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport to consider what can be done to add to the road safety measures in and around Hangingwater Road.

 

 

 

On being put to the vote, proposal 1 was carried.

 

 

The votes on proposal 1 were ordered to be recorded and were as follows:-

 

 

 

For proposal 1 (49)

-

Councillors Chris Rosling-Josephs, Ian Saunders, Bryan Lodge, Karen McGowan, Michelle Cook, Kieran Harpham, Jackie Drayton, Talib Hussain, Mark Jones, Moya O’Rourke, Craig Gamble Pugh, Mazher Iqbal, Mary Lea, Zahira Naz, Andy Bainbridge, Steve Wilson, Abdul Khayum, Alan Law, Abtisam Mohamed, Lewis Dagnall, Cate McDonald, Chris Peace, George Lindars-Hammond, Josie Paszek, Lisa Banes, Terry Fox, Pat Midgley, David Barker, Tony Downing, Nasima Akther, Mohammad Maroof, Julie Dore, Ben Miskell, Jack Scott, Dianne Hurst, Peter Rippon, Dawn Dale, Peter Price, Garry Weatherall, Leigh Bramall, Jayne Dunn, Richard Crowther, Olivia Blake, Ben Curran, Neale Gibson, Adam Hurst, Zoe Sykes, Mick Rooney and Paul Wood.

 

 

 

 

 

Against proposal 1 (22)

-

Councillors Andy Nash, Bob Pullin, Richard Shaw, Adam Hanrahan, Colin Ross, Martin Smith, Roger Davison, Shaffaq Mohammed, Paul Scriven, Sue Alston, Andrew Sangar, Cliff Woodcraft, Ian Auckland, Sue Auckland, Steve Ayris, Gail Smith, David Baker, Penny Baker, Vickie Priestley, Jack Clarkson, Keith Davis and John Booker.

 

 

 

Abstained from voting on proposal 1 (5)

-

The Deputy Lord Mayor (Councillor Anne Murphy) and Councillors Magid Magid, Douglas Johnson, Robert Murphy and Alison Teal.

 

 

 

Proposal 2

 

It was moved by Councillor Andrew Sangar, seconded by Councillor Ian Auckland, that Council notes the petition calling on the Council to implement road safety measures on Hangingwater Road, and refers the petition to the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport, requesting the Cabinet Member to submit a report to the Council’s Cabinet by the end of this calendar year with proposals to implement road safety measures on Hangingwater Road.

 

 

 

On being put to the vote, proposal 2 was not carried.

 

 

The votes on proposal 2 were ordered to be recorded and were as follows:-

 

 

 

For proposal 2 (22)

-

Councillors Andy Nash, Bob Pullin, Richard Shaw, Adam Hanrahan, Colin Ross, Martin Smith, Roger Davison, Shaffaq Mohammed, Paul Scriven, Sue Alston, Andrew Sangar, Cliff Woodcraft, Ian Auckland, Sue Auckland, Steve Ayris, Gail Smith, David Baker, Penny Baker, Vickie Priestley, Jack Clarkson, Keith Davis and John Booker.

 

 

 

 

 

Against proposal 2 (49)

-

Councillors Chris Rosling-Josephs, Ian Saunders, Bryan Lodge, Karen McGowan, Michelle Cook, Kieran Harpham, Jackie Drayton, Talib Hussain, Mark Jones, Moya O’Rourke, Craig Gamble Pugh, Mazher Iqbal, Mary Lea, Zahira Naz, Andy Bainbridge, Steve Wilson, Abdul Khayum, Alan Law, Abtisam Mohamed, Lewis Dagnall, Cate McDonald, Chris Peace, George Lindars-Hammond, Josie Paszek, Lisa Banes, Terry Fox, Pat Midgley, David Barker, Tony Downing, Nasima Akther, Mohammad Maroof, Julie Dore, Ben Miskell, Jack Scott, Dianne Hurst, Peter Rippon, Dawn Dale, Peter Price, Garry Weatherall, Leigh Bramall, Jayne Dunn, Richard Crowther, Olivia Blake, Ben Curran, Neale Gibson, Adam Hurst, Zoe Sykes, Mick Rooney and Paul Wood.

 

 

 

Abstained from voting on proposal 2 (5)

-

The Deputy Lord Mayor (Councillor Anne Murphy) and Councillors Magid Magid, Douglas Johnson, Robert Murphy and Alison Teal.

 

 

 

As a result of the votes on the two proposals, the motion approved was as follows:-

 

 

 

RESOLVED: That this Council notes the petition calling on the Council to implement road safety measures on Hangingwater Road, and refers the petition to the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport to consider what can be done to add to the road safety measures in and around Hangingwater Road.

 

 

 

 

(NOTE: Councillor Joe Otten, having earlier declared an interest in the above item, was not present for the duration of the item.)