Saturday 16 December

Local Transport Group Action Plan: April 2008 Update

Section 1 - Public Transport


Following the retirement of Gwil Williams, I will take over responsibility for the former EHDC Bus Forum, with administrative support from the Community Access Officer at EHDC.


1. Better bus services


The first priority remains the retention of the scheduled services we already have. HCC have accepted that the cuts to Route 67 saved only about £3.30 per journey and did not meet any of their criteria. The four daily journeys between Peterfield and Winchester were re-instated from 31st March, and have been retained in the new contracts for Route 67 from mid-April.


2. Improved transport information


The six bus shelters in the town owned and maintained by Petersfield Town Council, now display white lower end panels incorporating the council’s name and logo. Sarah Hobbs is exploring the possibility of new shelters in Lavant Street for the Chichester/Midhurst services and in The Causeway (Southbound) near the Broadway Park entrance, the addition of a stop post and boarding point at Broadway Park and a stop at Bedales School.

I have recorded and photographed nearly 40 Petersfield bus stops, and hope to do the rest over the next few months, although I will need some help to cover outlying areas such as Buriton, Stroud and Froxfield. This information will enable me to keep a check on the accuracy of route number and timetable displays and respond to users’ suggestions for additional stops. The database could be held by EHDC and made available to HCC, who have no accurate records.


3. Improved transport co-ordination


The South West Trains hourly Waterlooville to Petersfield Rail-Link bus service introduced from 10th December is still lightly loaded, especially in off-peak periods. I am awaiting a reply from SWT to my letter of 15th February which suggested a number of improvements to the service publicity and a possible diversion of off-peak journeys via The Square to improve loadings and provide extra bus links to Clanfield and Waterlooville.

I have asked South West Trains to improve the lighting on the station forecourt, especially at the bus stops, and they have agreed to obtain costed options for making improvements. I have also asked Network Rail to make the footbridge safer and clear rubbish from the area adjacent to the footway between the up platform and Station Road.


4. Public transport to key facilities


EHDC Officers have obtained figures from the local Health Authority of hospital admissions from the Petersfield area, but details of hospital journeys between Petersfield and Portsmouth hospitals are needed to provide a basis for discussions about a possible regular bus link for hospital outpatients and visitors.


5. Accessible public transport


The two fully accessible low-floor buses on Routes 94 and 95 are popular with passengers, and I will continue to press the operators and the County Councils to introduce more of them in advance of the statutory deadline for all buses to be low floor. The speed humps at Penns Place and Broadway Park cause difficulties with low-floor buses and discomfort to users. This will be pursued further with EHDC and the Broadway Park owners.

EHDC, at its regular Taxi Forum, are encoraging wheelchair-accessible taxis and disability awareness training for their drivers. The absence of a centralised taxi booking system in Petersfield significantly reduces the value of the local taxis.


Section 2 - Roads and Traffic


6. Car parks and street parking


I wrote to EHDC on 21st February on behalf of our Retail & Business Group and Local Transport Group to object to the increase in Petersfield car parking charges, especially the apparent lack of consideration of the wider implications for local businesses and employees. I also urged the District Council to take over from HCC responsibility for on-street parking control, which would “decriminalise” parking and allow them to introduce residential parking schemes and additional traffic warden hours.

From local press reports it appears that the wider implications of the increased charges (introduced on 1st April) will be considered in future. I have also received a letter from the Leader of the District Council, which explains their concern about the cost of taking over “Decriminalized Parking Enforcement”, which could be higher than the income from enforcement. However, he said that the possibility is being discussed with neighbouring authorities, and a report may be submitted to the Council’s Cabinet. I believe that a limited increase in net costs might well be justified if it brings significant benefits to local ratepayers.


Section 3 - Roads and Pavements


7. Improved pedestrian and cycling routes


We need to find out whether the local police are now monitoring broken and dangerous pavements and are reporting them to the highway authority, and whether any action is being taken as a result. The unsatisfactory “courtesy crossings” were discussed with the HCC Officers on 8th February (see 10 below), and it was agreed that Petersfield Tomorrow would organise a review to consider if they need to be better defined.

However, in a letter dated 19th March, Ben Clifton from the HCC Highways Department says that there are no funds available at present to carry out any work identified by a street audit, and suggests that we wait until they are in a position to commit time and resources. Although major expenditure may have to wait until after 2009 when the Town Access Plan is completed, I do not think it is acceptable that nothing should be done in the short term to repair any identified local problems such as broken paving slabs, inadequately marked crossings or damaged or missing signs. I fear that HCC are really only interested in their own “grand” schemes, and are not flexible enough to respond to local priorities and needs.


8. Vehicle delivery times


Action to restrict vehicle delivery times or a ban on heavy lorries, such as the Thornton’s articulated lorry which spends about a hour each Tuesday lunchtime in the High Street “loading” bay or the frequent deliveries by articulated lorries to the Tesco Express in Charles Street, seems unlikely before the introduction of a Town Access Plan (see 10 below).


9. Use of The Square


Now incorporated in discussions by the Town Design Statement Group, but also see 10 below.


10. Pedestrianisation experiment

At the meeting on 8th February, Ruth Olczyk and Ben Clifton said that the County Council Highways Department was embarking on the preparation of a series of Town Access Plans which, in conjunction with local bodies, would obtain details of traffic management schemes, public transport, walking and cycling and other issues affecting each town and draw up proposals for the next 5 years and up to 20-25 years. They hoped to start Petersfield and its immediate surroundings from April 2009, and would be able to incorporate Petersfield Tomorrow’s survey data. They hoped to produce a plan fairly quickly, but implementation would depend on the availability of funds.

If nothing is done before then (see also 7 above) I fear that Petersfield Tomorrow will be seen as failing to meet the local population’s wishes, and that Petersfield High Street will remain for some years as yet another place where crossing the road and “browsing” in the shops will continue to be discouraged.

Tony Shaw 12/4/08

Chairman Local Transport Group