Yet another smash in Mayfair

Mayfair smash 4 Aug 2014 cropped

I am losing count of the number of smashes in Mayfair since the council stopped residents parking on their own driveways. Today’s smash (see above) is the fourth or fifth involving cars running in to parked vehicles or drivers causing accidents whilst reversing out of their driveways between parked cars.

I am not sure how long it takes for this Labour council to recognise that stopping residents of Mayfair from parking on their own driveways is not just nonsensical, it is also downright dangerous.

Tilehurst residents overwhelmingly support the experimental ban on verge and pavement parking but the council’s pigheadedness over Mayfair is causing huge concern over the whole scheme.

People Power in Mayfair

One of the nice things about being a councillor is being able to help people and for me the really special times are when you help people to take action for themselves. A great example of this has been the protest by residents of Mayfair about the bizarre actions of traffic wardens to ticket residents for parking on their own drives.
Mayfair parking
I was first approached by a resident after one of his neighbours visitors was ticketed. I queried this with the council but officers took the view that the land in question was public highway and even thought the ban was aimed at cars parking on grass verges or blocking public footpaths and the Mayfair residents did neither of these things, just parked on the long driveways in front of their houses, traffic wardens took no notice of protests and gave out tickets to cars parked on the driveways. This seemed a bit of nonsense so I queried it with Tony Page, the Lead Councillor for Transport, but he also declined to do anything. So we took the story to the press and, after asking for a meeting between Cllr Page and the residents, we were invited to put our case to a meeting of the Traffic Management Committee.

Mayfair residents then organised themselves, called a meeting, appointed a spokesperson, gathered over 50 signatures from other residents of Mayfair. Dave Penn was the man who presented the case and was given some rousing applause by the 8 or 9 other residents who attended the meeting to support him. I have been able to work with residents all along the way but for me the key thing was to see people doing things for themselves and standing up to the council. It has been great to see and to be involved with. So well done to Wayne, Dave, Pat and Ray and all the others who have given their support.

The result of pressure press and a strong presentation of their case has been a promise to respond to the issue at the next Transport Management meeting.

More on parking in Tilehurst

Well the experimental ban is now in force and the first reports of contraventions are filtering through. I had to laugh at the first report though, it was of the council’s own vans parking on grass verges in Tilehurst. Clearly the council has yet to get the message round to its own staff.

However, the camera van has been seen around Tilehurst and letters should soon be sent out to people who have parked inconsiderately. The council has rightly opted to just write letters to offenders first and only if they don’t take the hint will subsequent offences be punished with a fine.

There is still a lot of concern about parents parking when dropping off children for school in the mornings and when collecting them in the afternoons. Parents’ parking is a real problem for all our local schools, despite yellow lines and 20mph limits, they still park on street corners, across driveways and on the pavement. Clearly there is not room for every parent to park their car close to the school gate at 3:00 in the afternoon but that is no excuse for the inconsiderate parking of quite a few parents.

Here comes the ban

Tomorrow, Tuesday 7 May, the experimental ban of pavement and verge parking comes in to force along a number of roads in Tilehurst. Our local surveys suggest that 2/3 of residents in Tilehurst support the ban. It is designed to counter two local problems; firstly the uncaring drivers who park on pavements rather than the actual road which then blocks the footpath and forces mums with buggies, mobility scooters and anyone else to walk out in to the road. Secondly, the ban will stop drivers using grass verges as parking bays and destroying the verges, leaving behind a rutted muddy patch where grass used to grow.

Since the new signs went up a number of residents have contacted me with worries about getting disabled partners or parents from the front door to a car some distance away on the road. I can understand the problem but common sense suggests that in such cases it may be necessary to ‘block’ the footway for a few minutes to let disabled passengers in to, or out of, a car.

The ban will force more drivers to park in the roads rather than on pavements and verges. One possible result of this is a drop in speeds of cars as they manoeuvre around parked vehicles rather than put their foot down on an open section of road.

Parking on Grass Verges

Verge Parking 1a
Since we wrote in Council Topics about the council’s decision to go ahead with an experimental ban on parking on grass verges and pavements, both Meri and I have been contacted by quite a number of residents expressing support for this initiative and asking for their road to be included.

This is clearly an issue which many folk in Tilehurst feel strongly about and which has come through from residents’ surveys we have done in the past. I really hope that we can introduce the ban soon and enforce it. Once people start to receive warning letters from the council and possibly a few fines are handed out, I am sure motorists will think twice about parking on grass verges or blocking footpaths by parking on the pavement.

We have also had a few residents who want to plant flowers and shrubs on various grass verges. People do care about their environment and they do want it to be kept tidy (not necessarily pristine but just neat and tidy). This ban will help us reclaim our grass verges and get rid of the mud patches that are all to obvious at present.

Experimental Ban on Verge & Pavement Parking

As my fellow Tilehurst Ward councillors will know the issue of motorists parking their cars and vans on grass verges and pavements has annoyed quite a number of local residents. After a summer of dillydallying the council is now consulting on introducing a ban for a trial period on the following roads in Tilehurst and Kentwood Wards:

• Westwood Road (whole length)
• School Road (whole length)
• Recreation Road (between car park entrance and School Road)
• Church End Lane (whole length)
• Lower Elmstone Drive (whole length)
• Brooksby Road (between Juniper Way and Overdown Road)
• Park Lane (whole length)
• Mayfair (whole length)
• The Meadway (between Church End Lane and Mayfair)
• Overdown Road (between Kentwood Hill and Brooksby Road)
• Norcot Road (between Church End Lane and School Road)
• Oak Tree Road (whole length)

The arguments for a ban are summed up as follows:

* uncaring motorists park vehicles so that they block footpaths and force mums with buggies and older folk on mobility scooters out into the carriageway.
* parking on grass verges destroys the verges and, especially when it has been raining, it turns them into unsightly mud patches and makes the whole neighbourhood appear run down.
* if all vehicles parked in the orad where they are supposed to park, they would also act to slow down traffic speeds as they narrow the road for passing traffic.

The arguments against any ban are:
* if I park my vehicle on the road it is going to be hit by passing traffic which already goes too fast.
keeping cars off the road makes it safer for motorists who then do not have to weave in and out around parked cars.
* The grass verge is outside my house so what do I care if the neighbours don’t like it, i’t my own business not theirs.

The good news is that this consultation exercise lasts through to the end of November and residents who live along the chosen roads can all have their say. None of us have any idea what the majority of reisdents want so it will be good to see what results come out of this consultation. If there is majority support for the ban then the council will introduce it as an experiment as it will be the first of its kind in Reading.

New Parking Restrictions in Tilehurst

Last Thursday’s TMAP (Traffic Management Advisory Panel) meeting approved a series of new parking restrictions across Reading including 5 in Tilehurst:

1. Junction of Victoria road and Armour Road
2. Junction of Calder Close and Chichester Road
3. Green Acre Mount
4. Junction of Corwen Road and Gratwicke Road
5. Dunstall Close

Along with other local Lib Dems I have spent some time in the weeks before Christmas canvassing opinions form residents living nears to these spots and the overwhelming majority in each case has been in favour of the new restrictions.

These new parking restrictions, following formal approval at Cabinet, will now be incorporated in a TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) and advertised in the press. There is then a few weeks statutary consultation period before the new restrictions can be implemented. This will all take a couple of months but hopefully they will benefit local residnets by deterring parking across driveways (as in Green Acre Mount) or parking where it blocks the view of other cars near junctions.

Parking on Grass Verges in Tilehurst

Excellent news from tonight’s meeting of the Traffic Managment Advisory Panel (TMAP). The meeting approved the go-ahead for a ban on verge and pavement parking along a number of roads in Tilehurst. They even accepted the additional roads suggested by the Tilehurst NAG and the Tilehurst Globe, both of which, in their different ways, have taken a keen interest in traffic issues in Tilehurst. This is the first time that such a ban is being introduced in Reading so we are all keen to see what effect it really has.

TMAP have agreed to push forward a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) that will ban verge and pavement parking along the following roads:

Westwood Road
Oak Tree Road
School Road
Recreation Road
Churhc End Lane
Lower Elmstone Drive
Brooksby Road (just the bottom end near Overdown Road)
Park Lane
The Meadway
Overdown Road
Norcot Road

This has been a long time coming and as a ward councillor I have received many representations from residents who want to see such a ban come in to effect. It will take a couple of months for the TRO to be published and there will be a formal consultation period before the ban (assuming it is approved) finally comes in.

We all need to take more care of grass verges and not turn them into mud patches and we all need to avoid parking on pavements where the footpath is blocked to pedestrians, mothers with prams and mobility scooters.

Tilehurst Triangle – improvements for pedestrians

Last Wednesday I attended a meeting of Tilehurst Globe which discussed improvements for School Road and the area around The Triangle. The meeting was addresed by Simon Beasley, the Traffic Manager at Reading BC. Afterwards we came up with the following proposals which were agreed unanimously.

Tilehurst Globe


Tilehurst Globe welcomes the initiative to enhance pedestrian safety and improve the environment at Tilehurst Triangle. The Triangle is the shopping hub of Tilehurst Village and in addition to shops it also contains schools, the public library, banks, dentists and cafes. There is a history of traffic accidents with pedestrians in the Triangle and a petition has recently been presented by parents at Park Lane School asking for better pedestrian facilities.

Two other petitions have been presented to TMAP over recent years concerning the lack of a safe crossing over Westwood Road as it enters the Triangle.

The objectives of the changes are to:

1. Improve pedestrian safety.
2. Improve the environment for shoppers and traders.

Our proposals are as follows:

1. 20 mph zone from Park Lane School to the Norcot Road lights, including approximately 100 metres of Westwood Road, Corwen Rd and St Michaels Rd. The 20mph zone to be marked by road surface changes as well as signage.
2. New pedestrian crossing outside Jo-Jos Hairdressers.
3. Replace the current Pelican crossing at the chemist with a pedestrian crossing further north (towards the Norcot Road traffic lights) to better serve the pedestrian desire lines.
4. Railings at Dunstall Close and School Road up to the replacement pedestrian crossing above (to prevent illegal parking blocking School Road).
5. New pedestrian crossing 20 metres down Westwood Road from School Road.
6. New pedestrian crossing outside the Laurels/Public Library.
7. Mitigating measures against speeding through traffic in Westwood Road, Chapel Hill, Oak Tree Road and Overdown, including stopping pavement/verge parking and removing parking restrictions.

These proposals will help reduce traffic speed in the 20 mph zone along the stretch of School Road that includes the shops and schools. The impact of the new pedestrian crossings will be to slow drivers who would otherwise be tempted to put their foot on the pedal. By increasing the number of formal crossings and placing them at the desire lines, pedestrians will be encouraged to use safe crossings rather than attempting to cross the road in opposition to traffic and the pedestrian crossings will also address the needs of parents who have to make the journey between The Laurels and Park Lane Schools. The chief benefit of these changes is to improve pedestrian safety, but the reduction in speeds and the ease of road crossing will enhance the shopping experience. In addition, traffic delays will be reduced through replacing the Pelican by a pedestrian crossing, which require shorter traffic stops.

A key benefit for the schools will be the safer route between the two schools necessitating only one crossing (by JoJo’s).

These Triangle Proposals will impact a number of other roads, including Westwood, Oak Tree, Chapel Hill and Overdown Road, as through traffic may increase as some vehicles divert down these roads in order to avoid the Triangle. The measures of stopping pavement/verge parking and removing parking restrictions already proposed at TMAP will produce informal chicanes, and tend to control speeding. Mandatory chicanes and changes of road surface at specific danger points should be implemented in the future if there is negative impact of the changes in these roads or others in the area.

Potential Problems

In addition to many benefits that these proposals may bring it is fair to point out that the presence of so many zebra crossings over School Road may actually cause blockages of traffic along School Road and that by eliminating pavement parking along Westwood Road we may be causing problems for buses where cars are parked on both sides of the road.

Also, if the Triangle is seen as problematic for through traffic then drivers may well look for alternative routes (Oak Tree and Westwood roads for example) so these need to be considered.

Gratwicke Road school run

We hear a lot of comments locally and at surgery about the top of Gratwicke Road being blocked every morning as mums drop their kids off to school by the junction with Corwen Road. Well the council have proposed a double yellow line along the inside of the bend in Gratwicke Road from the Corwen Road junction to the first houses. Just along one side and with no loading allowed during the school drop-off and pick-up times.

I spent this evening talking to some of the local residents and most appear to be in favour although they worry about pushing the parking problem further down Gratwicke Road. However the proposal makes sense to just about everybody as a way of keeping the junction clear, maintaining visibility round the bend and keeping Gratwicke Road free for passing traffic.

This will take some time to work its way through council procedures but it does look like an improvement that locals are generally happy with.

There also remains the question of enforcement and whether the council has the means to enforce any new restrictions when it struggles to maintain compliance with existing parking restrictions.