A CALL TO ACTION has been issued by traffic campaigners to local Preston residents who have been urged to formally report problems caused by traffic in the village. The East Riding of Yorkshire Council has been urged to look again at the traffic problems in the village and look at the current issues rather than rely on outdated data.
At a public meeting last night, leading campaigners from the Preston Traffic and Safety Group described the work done so far in their 3-year long campaign. And then raised the question with the 30-strong audience; “Where do we go from here?”
The Preston Traffic & Safety Group (PTG) was set up in August 2018. The initial 10 member group included East Riding Ward Councillor Sue Steel and also the then Chair of Preston Parish Council, Councillor Geoff Catterick. Another member of the original group was Ian Ireland who later became Chair of the Parish Council. Pat Ferguson, speaking at the meeting last night, explained that having links with both councils did give the group some kudos when dealing with the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC).
Hundreds of hours of volunteer time by members of the group was spent on counting traffic. A daily routine was established of monitoring traffic flows for two hours in the morning and two hours later in the day. This amassed lots of data about traffic flows and information about daily incidents.
One of the frequent responses from ERYC was that they had not received any complaints from residents about traffic incidents and problems. The PTG knew that this was false so sought to present evidence in this regard by asking residents to complete a questionnaire. 1,000 survey forms were circulated to households and some 250 were returned. This included opinions from residents and evidence of the complaints made by residents to ERYC and the police.
The results of the traffic monitoring and the survey, along with photographs of typical and particular traffic scenes and misdemeanours were sent to ERYC (a 44-page document). A meeting took place with three officers from ERYC to consider the document which was considered productive.
The onset of the Coronavirus pandemic sidelined the campaign somewhat, Pat Ferguson explained, but it was still a time of influential developments. The planning applications to build 100 new houses in Preston, develop the Humber International Enterprise Park at the Hedon Haven, and build the Lelley Fields crematorium were all agreed upon by the ERYC. Each development, alongside the previously agreed Yorkshire Energy Park, threatens to add to the existing traffic problems and flows through the village.
There was, however, one positive outcome in this period. Councillor David Tucker, Chair of the ERYC Planning Committee, although supporting the crematorium planning application, expressed his ‘huge empathy’ with local residents and South West Holderness ward councillors at the Planning Committee meeting of February 25. He said: “They have lines of planning applications in front of them and face horrendous problems with traffic through Preston. Now is the time for the authority to sit down with ward members and the local plan and do an emergency traffic review because those problems won’t get better, they’ll only get worse.” Ward Councillor John Dennis expressed hopes for “really meaningful talks” to take place. Whilst some of the campaigners remained cynical about how quickly an ’emergency’ review would actually take place, it was a positive pledge.
In July 2021 Graham Stuart MP visited Preston to see the traffic situation for himself. He met with campaigners and Ward Councillors in the middle of the village. Afterwards, a Zoom meeting was held with council officers. The pledged emergency traffic review was obviously an agenda highlight for the meeting. However, campaigners say they were left completely dismayed when council officer Paul Bellotti, Director of Environment and Neighbourhood Services, said that the Planning Committee had no right to promise a traffic review and the money for one was just not available. The estimated cost for a traffic review was approximately £500,000 according to the officer.
One of the outcomes from the meeting with the MP was a pledge for his support for the campaign, but he advised it had to be clearly seen to be a village-wide campaign. In September, the PTG launched their Preston R.A.T.S campaign (Residents Against the Traffic Situation) which sought to highlight the ‘rat runs’ in the village i.e. those access only streets through the village that motorists opted to use in order to beat the main road traffic problems and congestion. A street protest was held attracting up to 40 residents, meanwhile, window posters and banners supporting the RATS campaign began appearing around the village.
Pat Ferguson had asked a question related to the Preston traffic situation at the full meeting of the ERYC on Thursday 6 October. In addition, the three Ward Councillors (Dennis, Steel and Winter) had each asked Preston traffic-related questions of the ERYC council leader Councillor Jonathan Owen. The questions kept the traffic issues on the agenda and prompted ERYC council leader Councillor Jonathan Owen to reply. The meeting, questions and answers, can be viewed on YouTube.
The latest development, reported at last night’s meeting, is that the ERYC have appointed consultants (AECOM) to do what appears to be a desktop-based review of the existing data and information available to the ERYC regarding the Preston traffic situation, including the material provided by the Preston Traffic and Safety Group.
In a letter to council officers read out at last night’s meeting, Pat Ferguson writes:
“To be honest, I am not sure whether to be flattered that AECOM will be producing their review from the report we gave to ERYCC or whether to be dismayed as we were under the impression that any strategic review would look in-depth at the problems in Preston and not just look at figures! The roads in Preston are extremely narrow and were meant for farm wagons, not the huge vehicles we have coming through the village nowadays. The report we supplied is over two years old and things have changed dramatically since then…”
“…Will AECOM be taking into account the increase in traffic that we will have to suffer when the new crematorium, Yorkshire Energy Park and ABP industrial development come on stream? We have been told that there will be 4,000 jobs provided by YEP and there are 100 houses being built down Sproatley Road, so will that extra traffic be accounted for? The numbers on paper do not give a true story – they have to be taken in conjunction with actually seeing the reality that residents have to suffer every day (and night!).”Pat Ferguson read out letter at the Public Meeting 21 October 2021
The three local Ward Councillors have pledged to continue to work on behalf of local residents on this issue. Ward Councillors Sue Steel and John Dennis were at the meeting last night. And as the meeting began to consider the campaign’s next steps, Councillor Steel suggested that a letter-writing and email campaign were needed to raise the profile of the campaign. Meanwhile, Councillor Dennis said that the best solution was to remove the HGVs and the excessive traffic and that could only be done with the construction of a new link road. He said such a road was “three-quarters in place already building on the existing Lelley Road. An exit from near where Sandhills garden centre was, going through to Staithes Road, would do the job.”
So what happens next?
Residents are to be encouraged to *formally report traffic and parking issues and safety concerns to the ERYC council and the police (and other relevant authorities).
- The registration numbers of speeding vehicles should be logged.
- The registration numbers of HGVs ignoring the road signs should be written down. Road haulage firms may be contacted with the registration numbers of their drivers breaking the rules as well as other appropriate authorities.
- Traffic incidents witnessed should be reported.
- Vehicles obstructing pavements preventing pedestrians and prams should be reported.
*Advice on who to contact and how to contact relevant authorities would be issued to local residents.
Ideas for locally produced signs, warnings, and deterrents would be explored.
Other forms of legitimate street protest to highlight the traffic conditions would be considered.
Pat Ferguson emphasised that the work of the Preston Traffic & Safety Group will continue, but more people need to sign up and get involved with the group which can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.