Friday, November 17, 2006

Work on Newbury issues

I reserve this blog for personal musings. The list of work I have done for my ward as a councillor is on and is reproduced below. I have a whole load of recent casework to update on this list (doing it rather than listing it is always the priority!)

I am currently conducting a visit to every doorstep in my ward. I am halfway through. I am asking residents if they have any issues to raise with me and then following up those issues.

The reason I mention all this is because this blog seems to have been added to a "panel" of councillor blogs being monitored on "Southchat". As there is no email address listed on that blog, I have no way of pointing all this out to the blog owner, other than through this posting.


I was elected to Newbury Town Council on May 4th, 2000 representing St Johns Ward. On May 1st 2003 I was re-elected to represent the newly formed Victoria Ward, which covers the centre of the town.

Every week I spend one evening going road residents in my ward asking you for your views on local matters. As a response to your input, I have done the following things since I was elected:

100. I campaigned against the proposed move of Speenhamland school to Donnington. The move was shelved in early 2005.
99. I made a visit to a site in Oddfellows road where a resident had complained of badly obliterated graffitti. I noticed that the wall concerned is the property of a supermarket and informed the resident accordingly.
98. I reported the fact that there is no "no left turn" sign at the exit of Speenhamland school as you drive out into Pelican Lane.
97. After a complaint from a resident I brought the problem of on-pavement parking in Shaw road to the attention of the authorities. I also gave a phone number (non-emergency) to the resident so that they could call the police if there was a re-occurence.
96. I objected to the planning application for a maisonette in Livingstone road, at the end of Railway road, due to its bad impact on traffic flow and parking.
95. I have pressed for an enhancement of Greenham House gardens, to include improvements to the play area.
94. As part of my role as a member of the Town Council's community services committee, I helped to prepare a questionaire for Wash Common residents with respect to Wash Common recreation ground. I help to collate the results. I am delighted to say that residents have now reached a concensus that the basketball hoop and football goal on Blossoms Field is a good step forward.
93. I reported pot holes which I had observed in Racecourse, York and Queens road, which were filled in.
92. A carpet had been dumped on the pavement in Livinsgtone road. I got the council to remove it under its fly-tipping scheme.
91. I updated two residents in Boundary road about the latest status with the development of the Kings road relief which, hopefully, will lead to the closure of Boundary road railway bridge to all but emergency vehicles and buses.
90. A resident enquired about the Market Street development brief, and whether the bus stops would remain. I sent a copy of the brief to the resident and reassured him that the planning brief includes the need to retain the bus stops.
89. I noticed heavy litter in the Burger King subway. I complained to the council and it was cleared. The council also instituted a control procedure to ensure that litter picking by their contractor is always done on time.
88. I reported problems with lorries reversing too quickly in Northcroft Lane to the local traffic warden.
87. I reported pot holes in Northcroft Lane and these were filled in.
86. At the Town Council Saturday surgery, a resident expressed interest in the planning process and stopping development in the west of the town. I sent the resident the South East Plan process and explained to him how he could take part in the consultation for that plan.
85. At one of the Town Council's regular Saturday morning surgeries, a resident complained to me about trees and a hedge being removed as part of a new development in Andover road. This was checked by the council's Tree officer and the district councillor for the area kindly explained the situation to the resident.
84. A resident complained about the lifts malfunctioning at a local home for pensioners. I was able to put the resident in contact with Sovereign Housing, who explained the situation to her.
83. Residents of West Mills complained to me that they needed residents parking outside their houses. They are particularly near the town centre so that cars were being parked outside their houses during the day, making it very difficult, if not impossible, for residents to park even near their houses. After many years of campaigning with my Liberal Democrat colleagues on this issue, residents parking bays were installed in West Mills in 2005.
82. A particular car was being parked continuously in West Mills. It was causing an oil patch. I had the situation checked out by the local traffic warden.
81. A resident complained that he could not get out of his garden gate because a car had parked right in front of it even though there is a white line there. I reported this to the local traffic warden who visited the site. The car was subsequently removed.
80. A resident complained to me about cycling in the subway by Burger King. This was causing a hazard to pedestrians. I reported this to our local cycling police constable and he visited the site on several occasions to educate cyclists about the "no cycling" rule in that subway.
79. I saw a dead deer lying on the side of the A339. I reported this to West Berkshire Council and the corpse was removed immediately.
78. I noticed some particularly offensive graffitti in a particular public location in Victoria Park. I reported this to the Chief Executive of Newbury Town Council and it was immediately cleaned up.
77. I noticed offensive graffitti in the subway by Burger King. I reported it and it was cleaned up straight away.
76. A oil spillage from car occurred in York Road. I reported this to the council to be cleaned up.
75. A resident asked me about getting a drop kerb in front of his house. I was able to inform him able the procedure involved and the normal circumstances under which this is allowed.
74. I have lobbied to have a pedestrian crossing over Racecourse road. I am still campaigning for this.
73. A resident complained to me that cars were parking on the section of roads specifically designed for no parking in York Road ("build outs"). I got the local traffic warden to regular inspect these areas. She issue several tickets.
72. A resident in Boundary Road complained to me that many cars were being parked on the pavement in that road. I got the local traffic warden to issue warning letters to the car owners. The problem then abated.
71. A post on the pavement in Livingstone road was removed. I got the council to replace it.
70. A sofa appeared in Greenham Road. I contacted West Berkshire Council and it was removed under the council's free large domestic collection scheme.
69. A pensioner was concerned about trees growing in Greenham House Gardens. After requesting information from West Berkshire Council I was able to reassure her that the trees were growing naturally and safely.
68. A pensioner was concerned about the crossing for pedestrians in Cheap Street. After visiting the site, I was able to reassure her and explain the procedure.
67. A resident complained that the bins in Station Road were not being emptied regularly. I, in turn, complained to West Berkshire Council, who are committed to ensuring that the bins are emptied three times a week.
66. A resident complained to me about a reported issue with a local hospital unit not being fully used when needed. I asked the Chief Executive of Newbury Primary Trust to answer this query. She did so very satisfactorily.
65. A pensioner complained about vandals in Greenham House Gardens. I was able to put her in touch with the neighbourhood wardens who cover those gardens. They were able to resolve the problem.
64. After a resident complained to me, I reported the colour of paint used by a shop in Bartholomew Street. The colour was a violent shade of yellow which was not in keeping to the ancient building next to it. Eventually, the shop managers very kindly repainted their shop in a more restrained shade of yellow.
63. I got the drains cleared in York road after 2 residents complained
62. I got the pavement re paved in Queens Road after large puddles collected during the rain.
61. I got the old Queens Road garage site cleared of rubbish and fenced off after a complaint from residents.
60. I got the Burger King roundabout subway completely steam cleaned.
59. I got the nonsensical "Cyclists demount" sign removed from Northbrook Street's entrance.
58. I lobbied to get Bartholomew Street repaved and this was done. The whole street has been repaved with smaller, thicker paving stones which are less susceptible to tripping pedestrians.
57. I lobbied to get ruts in the A339 removed and this was done.
56. I obtained 2 new streetlamps, 3 dog litter bins and 1 seat for the Nightingales, which were installed.
55. I got the white lines renewed in East Fields.
54. I got abandoned cars removed from Dickens Walk, Nightingales, Queens Road, Newbury and a lay-by on the A339.
53. I lobbied to have the Monkey Bridge replaced. Planning is now ongoing for a replacement.
52. I got an official West Berkshire Council residents survey done for East Fields traffic and work started completed in February 2003.
51. I lobbied for new signs making the library and wharf toilets better signed. These have now been installed.
50. I opposed all plans for more houses/flats in East Fields until the traffic situation was sorted out.
49. I initially opposed the Sandleford Rise redevelopment because of the proximity of the western terrace to Charter road residents and obtained important changes from the developer.
48. I opposed several conversions of houses to flats in roads where they would be out of character - eg. Monks Lane, Andover Road.
47. After a complaint from a resident, I obtained a commitment from West Berkshire Council to redesign the lay-out of the Pelican Crossing ouside the Nag's Head in Bartholomew Street, Newbury. This has now been installed so that there is no longer a "blindspot" for pedestrians.
46. I complained about the removal of the grocery shop in Queen's Road.
45. I obtained a commitment from West Berkshire Council that West Mills, Chesterfield Road, Station Road, Tudor Road, Howard Road and Link Road will be reviewed for residents' parking schemes. The review is now ongoing.
44. I made sure that queuing outside one of Newbury's night spots is orderly and does not block the pavement for residents walking past.
43. I lobbied for a hand rail on Black Boys' bridge. A handrail has been installed on both sides of the bridge, which is particularly helpful for the many elderly and frail people who cross the bridge.
42. I successfully persuaded the council to install new posts to discourage drivers turning right out of Livingstone road going into Queens Road.
41. I had potholes fixed in Queens Road, Elizabeth Avenue, Essex street and London Road.
40. I assisted an elderly local resident who had trouble with rats in her roof.
39. Following complaints from residents, I had special "no parking" white lines painted along the entrances to residences on the northern side of the one-way stretch of Queens Road.
38. I got no entry signs in Livingstone Road turned round so that they are clearer.
37. I contacted the police to ensure that louts were encouraged to move on from Greenham House Gardens, following complaints from a resident.
36. I lobbied to have the Pembroke Road toilets (behind W.H.Smith in Northbrook Street) reopened. This has now happened.
35. I lobbied to have some of the worst pavements in Newbury replaced. Bartholomew Street and Kings Road (west) now have new small paving slabs which are better at not creating "trip surfaces". West Berkshire Council are also spending £30,000 to replace some of the worst pavements in Northbrook Street.
34. I successfully lobbied to have a bus stop moved in Andover Road to enable pedestrians to pass easily at peak times.
33. I had a dangerous road sign removed in The Folly.
32. I had a dangerous drain made safe in Wendan Road.
31. I got the hedge in Greenham House Gardens cut back to make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to pass.
30. I got Thames Water to inspect a smelly manhole in Railway Road.
29. I helped a resident who had worries about a tree by putting him in contact with the West Berkshire Council tree officer.
28. I reported a dangerous, crumbling low wall in Bear Lane to the council for it to be added to the list of repairs.
27. I had the wharf car park toilets inspected and scheduled for "deep cleaning" after complaints from a resident.
26. I helped a resident with a large family who wanted a large sized wheely bin.
25. I helped residents of Boundary Road North to obtain waste recycling facilities.
24. I highlighted the poor state of the Wharf/Granary Car Park surface to West Berkshire Council. They have completely resurfaced the car park, re-painted the white lines and levelled up the surface to prevent further flooding.
23. I pressed West Berkshire Council to remove some ivy which overgrew onto the pavement in Erleigh Dene. This was done.
22. I got abandoned domestic rubbish removed from the grass in Kings road near the junction with Boundary road.
21. I got West Berkshire Council to complain to two local companies whose lorries were regularly sprinkling concrete dust over Boundary Road north.
20. I supported the application for extra housing in Boundary road north, particularly because it is likely to lead to an improved environment for existing residents of that road.
19. I made sure that problems with lorries "rat running" down Boundary road north during the late night and early morning were raised in West Berkshire Council's freight transport review in May 2003.
18. I contacted the police and asked them to keep an eye on drivers illegally turning right out of Livinsgtone Road into Queens Road. The police attended this junction and issued several fixed penalty tickets to drivers doing illegal manoevres.
17. I got West Berkshire Council to remove concrete which had been stuck to the road surface in Boundary Road (North).
16. Following a report from a resident who was recovering from a heart attack, I chased up the council to commence classes at Northcroft Leisure centre for recovering heart disease patients. The classes have now started and are using new specialist equipment.
15. I helped a resident who was concerned that a local school portakabin overlooked his kitchen window.
14. I obtained two litter bins for Station Road, Newbury following complaints about litter from a resident.
13. I had repairs done to the pedestrian crossing points on the A339 near Sainsburys, after a partially sighted resident told me that the special buttons for partially sighted people were not working.
12. I reported to West Berkshire Council the misleading derestriction signs at the Pinchington/Monks Lane roundabout.
11. After a report from a resident, I reported the fact that vehicles are regular mounting the pavement in Kings Road near the traffic lights. This is being investigated by the relevant WBC officer.
10. Following on from a conversation with two Queens Road residents, I reported several traffic related problems in the road, in particular, cars not stopping in York Road at the junction with Queens Road and vehicles parking on double yellow lines in Queens Road. The relevant WBC officer is following up these problems.
9. After a report from a resident in Livingstone Road about regularly misrouted mail, I tracked down the officer responsible for addresses in West Berkshire and obtained useful advice which I passed on to the resident.
8. I passed on complaints from a Livingstone Road resident about the pavement surface in Queens Road, which is making it difficult for pedestrians to walk safely.
7. I complained to West Berkshire Council about the "sunken" condition of the pavement in Greenham Road following a report to me from a resident of that road.
6. Following a complaint from a resident, I referred to WBC the problem of a misturned sign in Market Street which was misleading. This has now been corrected.
5. I reported large and blasphemous graffitti in the subway under the A339/St Johns Road/Greenham Road (by Burger King). The graffitti was quickly painted over.
4. I made sure that road markings for "no parking" at the end of Stanley Road were completed after a resident complained.
3. I obtained a recycling bin for a residents in Park Lane and Boundary Road (North) who didn't have one.
2. I ensured that a missing drain cover was replaced in Boundary Road (south).
1. I complained to the council about flooding in the Robin Hood roundabout subway. The subway has now been refurbished with new surfaces to prevent flooding.

Also, I have worked a great deal on getting traffic improvements for East Fields, Newbury. Here is a list of main events in this campaign:
I first wrote to Newbury District Council and my local ward district councillor about this problem in August 1996.
After that, several residents wrote to their local ward councillors about the problems.
Over a dozen East Fields residents then attended six meetings of the West Berkshire Council Transportation sub-committee but, apart from road humps placed in Queens Road, there were no conclusive plans outlined for East Fields.
I reported some of the problems to the council's "Streetcare" hotline.
The council first promised to carry out a study of East Fields' traffic in 1997, but this was not carried out until 2001.
On 12th September 1999 I wrote to Councillors Hannon, James, McAllin and Becket with the results of a survey I had conducted amongst local residents.
On 16th September 1999, the then chair of the Transportation Sub-Committee, David Becket, wrote to me stating:
"The most likely quick solution is a local 20MPH zone, with essential traffic calming (Legally you cannot have a 20MPH zone without humps or some form of traffic calming). Officer proposal is to put that out to consultation that will not please you, as it involves further consultation on a proposal that does not appear to find local favour. May I suggest that, in conjunction with your local members, you request a meeting with officers?"
In November 1999 I exchanged further correspondence with Councillor Sally Hannon.
Twenty East Fields' residents attended a public meeting at the council offices in February 2000 where the problems and potential solutions were outlined to council officers and Councillor Steve Pascall, who went on to be the chair of the Transportation sub-committee.
I raised three members' questions at the Newbury Town Council Planning and Highways Committee regarding this subject. As a result there was correspondence between the Town Council and officers at West Berkshire Council.
On 12th December 2000 I once again wrote to my local ward councillors, Councillors Hannon, Ferguson and Vernon-Jackson enclosing the list of trouble spots and potential solutions. These included 20 trouble spots right across East Fields and called for a complete solution for the whole area.
On 16th December 2000 I established special campaigning web pages devoted to the East Fields roads problems.
On 18th December 2000, Councillor Sally Hannon wrote extensively to Tom Ingram, Highways Engineer at West Berkshire Council about the problems. On 8th January 2001 I asked Councillor Hannon if she had had a response. The answer was negative and she said she would chase up an answer. Councillor Hannon then contacted the Director of Planning and Highways on this matter.
On January 22nd 2001, the Deputy Leader of West Berkshire Council, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson wrote to Councillor Steve Pascall, the Chair of the West Berkshire Transportation Sub-Committee calling for action.
In February 2001 I presented a petition signed by East Fields residents' to the West Berkshire Transportation sub-committee. This called for action on the whole East Fields' traffic system.
On March 31st 2001, as I had requested, a questionaire was sent to all East Fields residents asking for their views on a variety of options for the East Field traffic system.
On 12th October 2001, Mark Edwards, head of Transport Planning at West Berkshire Council published a plan culminating in "completion of works" in East Fields in December 2002.
In 2002 483 residents attended an exhibition of the plans for East Fields. 38 residents sent in comments following this. After pressure from me and other residents, speed ramps were added to the plan for Boundary Road and one of the narrowings of York Road was removed from the plan.
Work was started on the East Fields traffic scheme in December 2002.
In January and February 2003 I encouraged West Berkshire Council to finish the works as soon as possible, and highlighted to them some weaknesses in the implementation of the plan, such as the no right turn out of Livingstone Road, the lack of markings at the junction of York Road and Queens Road, the difficulty of large lorries blocking Boundary Road at the junction of York Road and the need to finish the pavements off.
In February 2003 I contacted PC Graham Hurst, the team leader of Newbury Police, to request action on people breaking the law at the end of Livingstone road by turning right. Subsequently, local constabulary representatives visited the scene and issued a number of fixed penalty tickets.
On 25th April 2003 I secured a commitment from Mark Edwards, West Berkshire Council's head of Highways and Engineering, that in week commencing 12th May their electrical contractor would complete work under the unfinished pavement next to the junction of Livingstone and Queens roads.
On 20th May, I chased up Mark Edwards of West Berkshire Council to check what had happened about the electrical work on the corner of Queens and Livingstone roads. He replied on May 22nd saying that the work had taken longer than expected but that the end was in sight.
In July 2003 the work on the pavement on the corner of Livingstone road and Queens Road was finally finished.
In September 2003 I chased up West Berkshire Council's senior engineer to ask for better markings at the junction of York Road and Queens Road, and also for the proper enforcement of double yellow lines in Queens Road. The senior engineer committed to investigate those issues. He said he would obtained a "completion certificate" for the works from the contractor to enable him to commence the enforcement of the new traffic regulations.


  1. Ah the "two-blog method", that's my approach too.

    But it's a very impressive list, you make me feel like an idler!

  2. Thank you Chris. I wouldn't normally brag but "Southchat" seems to be portraying me as out of touch with my local community.