The Bickerstaffe Record
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Bickerstaffe Thoughts

Mouchel make a mockery

03.26.09 | Comment?

Below are my detailed comments made in respect of the recently completed speed limit review on A and B roads in Bickerstaffe Ward, undertaken by major consulting firm Mouchel Ltd.

The recommendations made in the review are part of a wider review of A and B roads across West Lancashire (and Lancashire as a whole), which can be found here (with coded map here).

Put simply, I am very angry indeed at some of the recommendations made by Mouchel Ltd, the consultancy firm brought in to undertake the review.  

I say as much below as well as in a separate letter to the Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, who has responsibility for this area, and who will have the final say.

In my view Mouchel have operated entirely outside the spirit of the 2006 Department for Transport guidance on speed limiting, in accordance with which they were supposed to conducting the review.  The guidance is about achieving a new balance in speed limiting and taking into account the needs of road users and residents, not just road users.  Mouchel have failed to do this several times in the Bickerstaffe area (details below), and  no doubt in many other areas as well.

My detailed comments on the Bickerstaffe A and B roads (officer names anonymised as usual) are:

 ‘Dear (responsible officer name)

I am grateful for the opportunity to comment on the Speed Limit review of A and B roads in Lancashire, as presented to the Lancashire Local meeting last week.

There are a number of inaccuracies and poor judgments as they relate to my area Bickerstaffe Ward, and these now need to be corrected.  I would like feedback on my comments and I am happy to meet County/Mouchel staff to discuss them, although ideally this would have happened in advance of these recommendations – some of which will come as an absolute shock to my constituents – were published.

A506/001(Cunsough Lane on to Liverpool Road) It is acceptable that the proposed limit will be brought down to 50mph. Note that the road does in fact cross the county boundary, though the assessment sheet says it does not.A506/002 (Liverpool Road)This is an utterly unacceptable judgment, and the limit should be reduced to 30mph in keeping with the guidance, not least because:a) There is in fact a deceptively sharp bend just before the exit/egress at Heyescroft, and this is the key reason for accidents on this stretch. To indicate that the incidence of bends and junction, given the bend AND the obscured exit from Heyescroft, slightly diagonal to Church Road and therefore complicated by it, is misleading and does not reflect the real road conditions.

b) It is not acceptable to maintain a 40mph in because of’ road features and keeping consistency with the surrounding roads speed limits.’ This whole area was assessed personally be Mr X in February 2007 and he then, in the context of the then new DfT guidance indicated that the whole area of Liverpool Road, Church Road and Hall Lane past the primary school. The limits in the whole area, under the guidance, merit a 30mph and it is therefore absurd to talk about retaining a 40mph limit in the interests of consistency with roads in the surrounding area, since these surrounding roads also merit lower limits.

Note also that the A506 section in question links to a 40mph section of the A570 at the other end of its stretch (Stanley Gate),about which it has been decided no change such be made, so that a move from a 40mph to a 30mph is perfectly ‘consistent’

In summary, residents on Liverpool Road, as well as the surrounding roads mentioned, have already been promised a 30mph and an acceptance of Mouchel’s recommendation fora 40mph retention, based as it is onpoor judgment and lack of understanding of the overall context, will be a betrayal of residents. I cannot state highly enough the importance of making good on the promises given, both by x and by the then Cabinet Member for Highways, who accompanied x on the visit to assess the area in 2007. Implementation of the 30mph is already massively delayed by the Mouchel review, and such a ‘slap in the face’ cannot be tolerated.

A570/002 (Ormskirk Road)

It is good that Mouchel have recommended retention of a 40mph on this stretch given the different exits/egresses from the housing laid of the road, from the pub, and the short lay-bys which would be difficult to get out of safely at a higher limit.

A570/001 (Rainford Bypass)

A reassessment of this stretch by Mouchel should bring support for bringing this down to a 60mph limit dual carriageway (as for example, it is on the A570 further up over the St Helens border). This is because of the fairly regular exits/egresses from areas of housing, reflecting the fact that the Bypass was built on the line of the old road, and reflected in the recent multi-vehicle accident at Colliers Row. It will also serve to slow down traffic coming off the M58, which often speeds along at around 80mph on this stretch using the road as a motorway extension.

B5240/003 (Lyelake Lane)

The judgment to keep the 60mph limit on Lyelake Lane is wrong, and the finding that the lane has a low incidence of bends and junctions does, I am afraid, beggar belief. Not only is there a very sharp bend and junction at Lathom Road, but the bend just past x Farm means that residents there have informed me that they actually feel the need to turn left for safety rather than attempt to turn directly right. The road should at the very least be reduced to 50mph in line with the AIP study, though in fact a 40mph is warranted given the fact that it would be possible simply to extend it from its current boundary on Lyelake Lane up past the remaining houses; in fact Mouchel’s map does not show this 40mph zone at all, and it appears to have been ignored/not noticed in the assessment process.

A577/007 (Blaguegate Lane)

I agree with the recommendation for a 30mph limit on this stretch.

A577/008 (Dickets Lane/Wigan Road)

Again, the decision not to reduce the limit, which would have been fully in accordance with the 01/2006 DfT guidance is a wrong and poor judgment. There is simply no justification, and none even attempted in the team meeting as reflected in the minutes, for this aribtary decision to keep a 40mph on this limit. The character of the road is the same as the stretch up Blaguegate Lane, where the evidence for a 30mph limit under the guidance has been accepted. The fact that there is housing on one side of the road only from Hollands Lane onwards (mostly) is made explicitly irrelevant as a consideration under the guidance, and it is impossible for me to see any other justification for the recommendation given.

Further, the recommendation is utterly contradictory to the plans being drawn up by the County Council for a road safety scheme on the A577 (see Council officer x for details) which, though absurdly delayed, recommend 30mph limits on this stretch. There needs to be consistency between what two parts of the County Council are doing, and a 30mph limit is needed for the whole length between Hollands Lane and Westhead village.

B5312/004 (Skelmersdale Road becoming Liverpool Road at Horseshoe Pub)

The recommendation to keep a 60mph limit along this stretch of road is utterly wrong. It is based on an incorrect assessment of the number of houses on one side of the road (20 needed under the guidance, and the consequent finding that the road is ‘undeveloped’. This road is at the garage end part of the village, with a village hall on one side and a busy farm on the other, and needs to be treated as such. Proper use of the the DfT criteria will bring about a 30mph zone through the housing at both ends of the stretch, with the 30mph at the Skelmersdale end simply being extended a few yards from the Liverpool Road junction at the Horseshoe pub to accommodate this. Any other decision will be a travesty for residents based on incorrect use of the criteria.

In addition the fact that the motorway runs parallel gives additional reason for a lower limit as it will encourage HGVs using the road as a ‘rat run’ to junction 4 of the M58 to go to junction 3, on roads designed for the purpose instead (this is a particular problem following the developments at XL Business Park).

B5240/002 (Plough Lane)

A decrease to 30mph, in line with what should be a 30mph zone on the A577 where it adjoins Plough Lane, would be advisable for consistency at this busy junction area, and is a logical follow-on.

Summary

These are my specific comments on the roads in Bickerstaffe Ward. Clearly these are my primary interest. However, I do wish to remark more generally that, if Mouchel have made so many mistakes and poor judgments in the Bickerstaffe area, the problems must surely be replicated in other areas, with poor assessment of the actual road conditions and/or arbitrary decision made not to follow the guidance.

There is a sense that Mouchel have simply failed to acknowledge the spirit of the Dft guidance, which provides a presumption in favour of lower limits generally, and are keen to retain limits where they can, and this whole bias should not be allowed to pass.

This is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to get the speed limits brought into line under sensible criteria for road safety, and I do hope the County will consider revisiting both the Bickerstaffe recommendations and others. I do not know the details of the Mouchel contract, but I hope a substantial final percentage of payment as been held back until they give evidence of satisfactory completion of the contract awarded – this means using the DfT guidance properly, and making proper assessments of road in line with the guidance.

Best regards

 

Paul Cotterill

Councillor for Bickerstaffe Ward’

 

 

 

 

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