“It’s frustrating but there is not much we can do about it.” That’s the message from Tracey Huffer, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East after an essential road safety scheme outside Ludlow Primary School on Sandpits Road was been delayed by several months. The delay is likely to last several months but there is some good news.
Ludlow seems to have more than its fair share of street furniture bashing. I have lost track of how often street furniture in the town centre is bashed and broken. Signs on Castle Street, bollards at Bodenhams and on Old Street. It’s an expensive business. A coach company that demolished the Bodenhams bollard was sent a bill of £1,000 by Shropshire Council for a replacement. And it is not so long ago that Ludford Bridge was battered by a truck delivering tarmac for resurfacing at Tesco.
Now, a Belisha Beacon on Foldgate Lane outside the Co-op has been demolished. It is a curious incident. The junction is wide. Either a car came around the corner from Sheet Road and completely missed the junction – the road is 8.5m wide at this point and 25m wide at Sheet Road. Or someone reversed over the zebra crossing to hit the Belisha. It was certainly a hard knock and the vehicle must have been damaged. I asked the police if a traffic accident was reported. They said no.
Shropshire Council’s highways contract with Kier is not hitting many of its performance targets. The council is making the usual excuses. The weather was bad. Err, welcome to Shropshire. It pleads there were teething problems with the contract. Keir has a turnover of £4.5 billion. Shropshire Council has a budget above half a billion. How come these giants struggle to introduce a highways contract that costs £21m a year?
A whistleblower has submitted evidence that Shropshire Council does not properly monitor its highway contractors, Kier and WSP. The whistleblower, a Senior Quantity Surveyor who worked as a contractor for the council, said his complaints were not investigated. That’s a contravention of the council’s whistleblowing policy. Questions are to be asked in a council committee tomorrow.
The quality of Shropshire’s highways affects everyone. In 2018/19, 12% of the county’s B and C roads needed maintenance, well above the national average of 5%. It is time to stop making excuses. It is time to ensure that council taxpayers get bangs for their bucks. It is time to end the bangs and bucking people experience travelling on the county’s rural and urban roads.
I have been on buses in other towns and cities a lot of late. One thing I have noted is that people sit in their seats until the bus has come to a halt at a stop. This doesn’t happen much in Ludlow. Passengers in our town, many elderly, stand up well before the bus stop despite the “Stopping” sign having been illuminated. This is dangerous and completely unnecessary. Passengers should remain seated until the bus comes to a halt at the stop. It is time to ditch this dangerous habit. We don’t want anyone injured. We want our bus services to run smoothly for the benefit for everyone in our community.
Today the House of Commons transport select committee has called for a nationwide ban on vehicles parking on pavements, except on designated streets. Currently the ban only applies in London. MPs have been examining the issue over the summer. They conclude in today’s report that the government’s inaction on introducing a ban “has left communities blighted by unsightly and obstructive pavement parking and individuals afraid or unable to leave their homes or safely navigate the streets.”
I agree with the committee. It is time to reclaim our pavements from thoughtless car and van drivers. I would welcome the extension of the laws that apply in London to the rest of the country. It is, as the MPs say, time to act.