A Lack Of Traffic Regulation Orders Risks Safety
May 12th 2017
During the county council election campaign many people came to me with problems that I would try to sort out. Sometimes it was something straightforward, but often the root of the problem came down to a lack of council money to deal with an issue. One of the areas where this was most apparent was traffic regulation, which accounted for a high proportion of council-related problems.
Traffic Regulation OrdersA Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) is a ruling by the County Council's Highways department that affects traffic. Examples include yellow lines, temporary waiting restrictions, white H-markings outside driveways, restricting where lorries can go, one-way streets, and disabled parking bays. These orders can be temporary, experimental, or permanent.
Lincolnshire County Council's Highways department has recently stopped issuing new TROs except where a street is directly affected by a new development. This policy is in order to save money. Unfortunately, many of the issues residents brought to me couldn't be solved without a new TRO. Councillor Sarah Dodds, who now represents Louth South at the county council, also had very similar feedback from residents about traffic problems in the south of town.
There were problems with:
Speed limitsPerhaps the most serious issue for public safety is speed limits, but to alter the speed limit also requires a TRO.
The county council Speed Limits Policy explains the situation:
"Any new speed limit, or any amendments to existing speed limits, requires a Traffic Regulation Order to be made. This involves a process of consultation and public advertisement. This statutory legal process generally takes nine months to complete, but is largely dependent on the number and nature of any objections."
The 2015 policy makes clear that the policy on 20mph zones and speed limits outside schools will be under review as part of the County Council's Speed Management Strategy, but not when that strategy is due.
A 2014 scrutiny report discusses cost issues in coming up with speed restrictions near schools. But should that be the primary issue? I don't think so.
Louth's future growthLouth is growing, and is set to get even larger. It has the largest minimum housing allocation of any settlement in East Lindsey, with land for 1204 dwellings earmarked for development in the 2017 Local Plan. This is a very low estimate of the amount of new housing it might see in the next 15 years of the plan period. Realistically, Louth could experience growth of as much as a quarter of its current size.
There are planning applications in the works for 500 homes off Brackenborough Road, 89 homes and 280 homes near Legbourne Road, and a number of smaller sites. There are also existing unbuilt planning permissions for at least 684 homes at a number of other sites around town. Meanwhile, construction is underway at sites near Fulmar Drive, Ramsgate Road, Eastfield Road, and Mount Pleasant.
The reason for this large growth is due to the prohibition on building on flood-prone coastal areas, and also because of the decision not to allow much housing in small and medium-sized villages in the district. This means that larger villages and towns such as Louth will see a great deal of new building. Unfortunately this growth brings infrastructure strains, and one of the most significant of these is the increase in traffic.
However, the traffic growth isn't going to be restricted to one or two streets, yet the potential for new TROs is. People might tend to gravitate towards the centre of town, but most Ludensians visit friends and take part in activities all over Louth and beyond.
Many new build homes are on sites that come to less than 10 houses, which means that alone they might not warrant any changes at all to nearby roads. Yet these small developments soon add up to a significant change in the flow of traffic.
Louth needs to be able to put in new TROs, because the overall increase in traffic is posing dangers that didn't exist when the TROs we have in place now were settled. It's outrageous that we can't even consider making changes with regard to traffic and speed limits in the face of a rapidly expanding town. Resident safety, and indeed human life, is worth much more than the value this penny-pinching TRO policy is placing on it.
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