Saturday 16 December

21st May 2007
PETERSFIELD TOMORROW

LOCAL TRANSPORT GROUP
Background

1. The replies to the first five specific questions in the “Getting About” section of the document “Do you care about the future of your town?” produced the following results:

Respondents who “strongly agreed” or “agreed”,Total (Per cent), Replies

Question Percent Replies
a) Better bus service, particularly at evenings and weekends.
81
513
b) Increased transport information, with timetables at all bus shelters and stops.
89
535
c) Improved public transport co-ordination i.e. bus/rail links
87
530
d) More public transport to key facilities e.g. hospitals.
87
522
e) More fully- accessible public transport (buses and taxis)
85
526

In addition to the total number of replies to each question, 160 respondents (an average of 35%) added specific comments, which were summarised in a report dated 20/8/06.

2. In other sections of the questionnaire, the following five items were related to highways and road use:
Respondents who “strongly agreed” or “agreed”, Percent, Total Replies, Specific Comments

Question Percent Replies Comments
a) A review of car parking and discouragement of car use. 70 550 131
b) Improved pedestrian and cycle routes. 79 533 99
c) An experiment with a pedestrianisation schemein the High Street. 73 563 180
d) Reduced vehicle delivery and co-ordinated delivery times. 87 552 78
e) Increased range of activities in The Square. 79 533 58

The specific comments received from these five questions were also summarised in reports dated 20/8/06.
Where the initial question (e.g. A review of car parking) did not indicate a direct policy, the comments gave a good indication of the respondents’ views and a mandate for future action.

3. As these highway and roads matters are not being taken forward by any other Project Group, they have been, at least initially, added to the Transport Group’s remit to ensure that all those who took the trouble to respond to the questionnaire are not ignored.

Reconstituted Transport Group

4. The five public transport items in paragraph 1 can be dealt with by a reconstituted Transport Group including bus, train and taxi users and operators, with District and County officers as advisers. The five additional road/highway items could be covered by additional members including car park users, cyclists, pedestrians and shopkeepers, with representatives of the highway and car parking authorites.

5. However, membership of the Transport Group remains a problem and it has not yet been reconvened. From the 480 completed questionnaires (200 have been destroyed) I found 27 respondents who volunteered to get involved in working parties or further discussions on various subjects. On 3rd April 2007 I wrote a letter to 11 of these asking them to join a new Transport Group, but only two have offered to help. I sent three further letters on 6th May, but so far none have replied. In addition I have found three other potential members who use local buses. Other members might include Gwil Wliiiams and Chris Paterson from EHDC, who have offered to help.
Representatives of the County and District Councils and bus and train operators would be invited to discuss specific issues when appropriate.

Public Transport

6. Although I have so far failed to find volunteers to form a representative Transport Group which includes public transport users, cyclists, pedestrians, car parkers, etc., some successes have been achieved with the local bus facilities. These include:

- The retention of the town route 94 and the 95 to Buriton and Steep/Froxfield (both threatened with the withdrawal of HCC support). The new operator - Countryliner - has introduced fully-accessible low-floor buses, which seem to be very popular with parents with children in pushchairs from the Rival Moor and Durford Road area who can shop in town without unloading the “buggy” and folding it before travelling.

- Better timetable information at bus shelters and (still awaited) route numbers and destinations on the two
shelters in The Square. The two shelters in Dragon Street have been repaired by HCC.

- The forthcoming rerouting of the route 54 buses (to Chichester) back to Moggs Mead, Durford Road and Rival Moor, where they will pick up more passengers than the present route via Tesco and Sussex Road .

- Countryliner have been awarded the West Sussex County Council contract (with some HCC support) for route 54 and routes 91,92 and 93 to Rogate and Midhurst from 29th May, but - very disappointingly - and will not be using low-floor buses because West Sussex would not accept the higher tender price.


- As neither County Council intends to publicise these changes in advance, I have agreed with Gwil Williams that he will issue an EHDC press notice, which includes reference to Petersfield Tomorrow's involvement in the 54 re-routeing viaa Moggs Mead.

- I have asked the General Manager of Countryliner if he will agree in principle to display one of his low-floor buses in The Square in June to demonstrate their advantages to passengers. This could possibly be combined with publicity for Petersfield Tomorrow using the EHDC display trailer.

Car Parking and Highways Matters

7. I believe that these fall into three main categories:-

a) Car Parking, including the use of public car parks and on-street parking in residential roads.
Comments from the questionnaire responses need to be discussed with EHDC and the police.
On-street parking near the railway station could be reduced if the SWT station car parks were enlarged and some form of peak-hour express bus service was introduced for rail commuters living in the Clanfield/Horndean area.

b) Pedestrian and cycle routes, an experimental pedestrianisation scheme, vehicle delivery times.
These inter-related matters, which produced many comments from questionnaire respondents, need to be discussed with the highway authority (HCC), EHDC and the police to discover what is legally and financially practical. The safety of cycle routes, pavements and pedestrian crossings should be evaluated. The High Street and The Square could be made much more attractive to shoppers and visitors - to the benefit of shopkeepers - by adopting one of the numerous options to reduce road traffic at certain times.

c) Activities in The Square. Although the various suggestions made by respondents would be affecte by any changes to road traffic flows under b) above, I suggest that this would be better dealt with by the Town Character or Retail and Business Groups.

The Next Steps

Should I continue, possibly by an appeal through the local press, to form a new comprehensive Transport Group, or would it be better to form two additional groups or working parties to deal with 7a and 7b above, recognising that few residents will be interested in publc transport, car parking and pedestrian/cycling issues?
Gwil Williams and Chris Paterson of EHDC have kindly offered to provide some administrative help.

Specific projects which might evolve from the above lists include the bus/Petersfield Tomorrow display in The Square (para. 6), a car parking review and a possible rail commuter bus link to Clanfield/Horndean (para.7a} and investigation of cycling/pedestrian schemes (para 7b), but I see no reason to employ expensive outside consultants on any of them.

TONY SHAW: 16/5/07 (amended 21/5/07)