In a letter to the Editor of the Berkhamsted Gazette Liberal Democrat Berkhamsted Town Councillor Garrick Stevens has outlined the plans that he and fellow Town Councillor Danny Bonnett have put forward to Berkhamsted Town Council.
Your report [Gazette 9th July 2013] of the Town Council’s meeting that discussed the proposal to partner the County Council to fund the planned lights controlled crossing at the junction of Kings Road and Shootersway was somewhat misleading. I’d like to set the record straight.
The junction has long been regarded as a traffic congestion and safety hotspot: the new 2 tier school arrangements with more younger children needing to use the crossing, has heightened safety concerns that merit a sound long term solution. Although the junction work is identified in the 2013 Urban Transport Plan, a senior officer from County Highways said, at the recent meeting where the plan for the Taylor Wimpey development was rejected, that the improvements could be delayed – possibly beyond 10 years as there is no funding currently available, or anticipated, for the foreseeable period for the project. The interim solution of a ‘lollipop person’ at the junction is recognised as not being ideal for the long term.
We now have it on record that the Town Council has the legal power to raise funds to pay for Highways works. As a safeguard against frivolous applications there are procedures to be followed before any long term borrowing can be authorised – in this case by the Minister at the Dept. of Local Government.
Secondly, the County and Borough Councils have squirrelled away developer contributions for highways improvements which could be used on projects in Berkhamsted. We will learn more when a joint meeting is held. But residents will recall that the County set aside £90,000 to pay for the abandoned Parking Zone fiasco – hopefully they still have it in the bank.
If there is truly not enough funds available from the County/Borough to complete this project within a relatively short period of time, we are left with the options of either doing nothing to make the junction better for drivers and safer for our children, or persuading your Town Councillors to take the lead to pay for the shortfall.
The key number your reporter left out of the report [but included in the discussion paper available from the Town Clerk] is that a loan of as much as £300,000 repaid over 15 years [to the government, much like a mortgage], is a cost of £3.23 per year from each of the 8,000 or so properties in Berkhamsted. Higher Banded properties might pay around £5 per year. Some people pay far more for a round of drinks or golf.
We regularly hear complaints about the overloaded infrastructure in Berkhamsted, not least by residents who most use these roads. My colleague Cllr Bonnett has bravely shown that there is a potential solution – but the solution, and the responsibility for implementing it, and it lies in the hands of our residents and Town Councillors.
[Cllr] Garrick Stevens
The loan to enable the badly needed highways improvements to be brought in now – rather in 10 years time – can be safely raised from the Public Works Loan Board and will cost a trivial sum of money per property per year. Meanwhile several dozen school children are put at risk daily at the awkward and dangerous road crossing and traffic is held up morning and evening at rush hours.
Cllrs Stevens and Bonnett have shown it can be done. Mothers and motorists know it should be done. Now the other Berkhamsted Town councillors should get on and do it – or be prepared to answer accusations that they are putting children’s lives at risk for no good reason.