Sidford Business Park: a begged question

If the Sidford Business Park was turned down because of

“the potentially lethal combination of narrow roads and increased heavy goods vehicle usage” …

why was it hurriedly and grubbily added to the Local Plan at the last minute?

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/06/18/sidford-business-park-a-grubby-history/

“Planners have said NO to Sidford Business Park and turned down the controversial plans over a potentially lethal combination of narrow roads and increased heavy goods vehicle usage.

East Devon District Council planners rejected plans to build industrial, storage and non-residential institutions on agricultural land to the east of Two Bridges Road in Sidford.

They were refused on the grounds of harm to highway safety, relating to increased heavy goods vehicle usage of the area’s narrow roads and the decision was made by officers with the Chairman of Development Management Committee, Cllr Mike Howe, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/planners-refuse-controversial-sidford-business-2120014

Campaigners will press on with “Say No to Sidford Business Park” activity

Say NO To Sidford Business Park Campaign

Press Release – 16 October 2018

The Campaign is relieved for local residents that the District Council has, for the second time in as many years, refused a planning application to build a Business Park on agricultural AONB land at Sidford.

We are pleased that the views of local residents have been listened to once again. Over 250 residents submitted letters of objection, and 1,400 residents signed this Campaign’s petition objecting to the proposed Business Park.

The proposed Business Park is the wrong thing in the wrong place, and we urge the applicants to end the years of uncertainty and concern that has hung over local residents, particularly those in the immediate vicinity to the site, by publicly stating that they will not pursue this matter to appeal.

Whilst we are pleased that the District Council has refused to give planning permission for a Business Park we are disappointed that the Council has only done so on highways concerns. We believe that the refusal could, and should have been more wide ranging.

Until the applicants end their attempts to build a Business Park on this site the Campaign will continue to do all it can to reflect the clear views of local residents.

“Bus travel hits 12-year-low as prices rise and services are axed”

“… The latest figures from the show 1.2 billion local bus journeys were made across Britain between April and June – a 10 per cent decrease since the peak of 1.33 billion between July and September 2008.

The fall in journeys coincides with a 55 per cent hike in average fares over the past decade.

Demand for bus travel has not been this low since the beginning of 2006.

A recent CBT study found that funding for supported buses has almost halved in the last eight years, leaving many areas without public transport.

Local authority bus budgets in England and Wales were slashed by £20.5m last year – the eighth consecutive annual government cut.

“The falling number of passengers taking the bus is a consequence of continued cuts in funding to support services,” said Darren Shirley, CBT chief executive.

“Nationally and locally this is resulting in fewer services and higher fares. The statistics back up what our research has been showing for years: that buses are in crisis.”

Mr Shirley urged the government to use its upcoming budget to reverse the “trend of cutting support” for buses.

“They are vital for the economy and the environment but year-on-year, people – especially in rural areas – are losing their bus service, making it difficult to access jobs, education and other essential public services.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/bus-travel-numbers-price-rise-public-transport-a8584211.html

“‘I leave the car at home’: how free buses are revolutionising one French city”

“… One month ago, Dunkirk – with a metropolitan population of 200,000 – became the largest city in Europe to offer free public transport. There are no trams, trolleybuses or local commuter trains, but the hop-on-hop-off buses are accessible and free – requiring no tickets, passes or cards – for all passengers, even visitors.

The scheme took its inspiration from Tallinn in Estonia, which in 2013 became the first European capital to offer a fare-free service on buses, trams and trolleybuses, but only to residents who are registered with the municipality. They pay €2 for a “green card”, after which all journeys are free. The city has reported an increase of 25,000 in the number of registered residents – the number previously stood at 416,000 – for which the local authorities receives €1,000 of each resident’s income tax every year.

Free urban transport is spreading. In his research Wojciech Keblowski, an expert on urban research at Brussels Free University, found in 2016 there were 107 fare-free public transport networks around the world: 67 in Europe (30 in France), 25 in North America, 11 in South America, 3 in Asia and one in Australia. Many are smaller than Dunkirk and offer free transit limited to certain times, routes and people.

In February this year, Germany announced it was planning to trial free public transport in five cities – including the former capital Bonn and industrial cities Essen and Mannheim. In June this was downgraded to a slashing of public transport fares to persuade people to ditch cars.

The largest in the world is in Changning , in China’s Hunan province, where free transit has been in operation since 2008. Passenger numbers reportedly jumped by 60% on the day it was introduced.

A study into free public transport by online journal Metropolitics found an increase in mobility among older and younger people, and an increased sense of freedom.

… Vergriete believes this is all part of an erroneous received dogma. He admits free public transport may not work everywhere, but says that, as well as being good for the environment, it is a social measure, a gesture of “solidarity” and promotes a more egalitarian redistribution of wealth than tax cuts.

“We have been pragmatic: we looked at the advantages of free transport and weighed them against the disadvantages and decided €7m is not a lot to pay for all the benefits. If I can pass one message to other mayors it’s to fight the dogma. Put the advantages and disadvantages on the table and consider it realistically. It may be that the financial cost is too great, but don’t underestimate the social advantages. You can’t put a price on mobility and social justice.”

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/oct/15/i-leave-the-car-at-home-how-free-buses-are-revolutionising-one-french-city

“Near miss outside Cranbrook Education Campus prompts new road safety measures”

Owl says: the area around the campus looks an overgrown, desolate space and the campus itself does not seem to be wearing well; and one wonders how long the two cones will last:

“Dangerous parking on pavements outside Cranbrook Education Campus and a near-accident involving a child have prompted new safety measures.

Stone boulders are being put in place to stop vehicles driving on to the pavements.

The problems had been caused by parents parking on the pavements when picking up or dropping off their children.

The head teacher had written to parents asking them not to do it, but it was an incident at the end of a school day in mid-September that led to action being taken.

A car reversed off the pavement and narrowly missed a child.

No-one was hurt, but it led to the town council arranging a meeting with representatives of the school, the developers’ consortium, and a senior county highways officer.

It was agreed that the consortium would initially cone off the pavements, and then pay for the stone blocks to be installed in two places.

One is directly outside the driveway leading up to the campus building, the other alongside the entrance to the parking area behind the houses in Tillhouse Road, where cars have been driving up onto the pavement. It will not affect access to the parking area.

The two pedestrian crossings near the campus, both of which have worn-out road markings, will be repainted, and construction workers on the nearby development sites have been asked not to drive their vehicles near the campus at the start and end of the school day.

County Councillor Ray Bloxham said he was pleased to see the safety measures being put in place, but he thought they should not have been necessary.

“I’ve looked at what goes on there, and the people who’re complaining about the problem are the problem themselves,” he said. “They could at least stop 400 yards before they get to the school and let the children out there and walk. I actually saw people pulling up right outside the school, which is right on a road junction, on a bend, and stopping there and dropping their children off. Kids can walk 100 or 200 yards.

“I know people are rushed, they’ve got to get to work and all the rest of it, but if they just gave it a little bit more thought they’d solve their own problems really.”

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/new-road-safety-measures-at-cranbrook-education-campus-1-5734784

Virgin and Stagecoach: more pigs, more snouts, more troughs

“Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin and Sir Brian Souter’s Stagecoach shared a payout of over £52m just months before the companies pulled out of the East Coast line, forcing a £2bn government bail out, it has emerged.

Virgin and Stagecoach received the pay out for the West Coast mainline which runs the route connecting London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and Glasgow.

Virgin Rail owns 51 per cent of the West Coast mainline, with the remainder held by Stagecoach.

‘No surprise’

Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said Virgin Rail’s dividend increases came as “no surprise”.

“This is yet more evidence of a failing rail system which is costing taxpayers a fortune, lining the pockets of billionaires and making passengers feel like they’ve been mugged whenever they buy a ticket,” Mr McDonald told the Sunday Times.

“These vast payouts show exactly why we need to bring our railways back into public ownership.”

Virgin-Stagecoach bail out

The figures have come to light just four months after Virgin, run by Richard Branson and Stagecoach, run by Brian Souter, walked away from the East Coast main line franchise in June, three years into an eight-year deal.

The firms had agreed to pay the Government £3.3bn for the right to run the line, with the sum to be paid in instalments up until 2023.

Stagecoach had controlled 90 per cent of the franchise, compared to Virgin’s 10 per cent. Pulling out of the franchise early will allow Stagecoach and Virgin to avoid making Government payments of up to £2bn.

‘Virgin on the ridiculous’

One online critic described the situation as an “absolute laugh”, while another said: “They don’t even pretend not to be screwing over the taxpayers and the commuters anymore.

“Branson and chums make extortionate profits again while delivering nothing to rail users. It’s all Virgin on the ridiculous.”

Virgin Rail insisted its “industry-leading levels of customer satisfaction” warranted the dividends, with a spokeswoman pointing to company “innovations” such as automatic refunds for delays, free films and TV on board trains and mtickets (tickets you can buy and keep on your mobile phone).

“This drove a strong business performance which helped deliver a record payment to taxpayers,” the spokeswoman said.”

https://inews.co.uk/news/richard-branson-52m-virgin-rail-stagecoach-payout/

Say No to Sidford Business Park meeting

Owl says: notable by his absence was District Councillor and DCC Transport supremo Stuart Hughes, who, it seems, may have preferred going to his gym than attending the meeting:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/10/10/where-was-eddc-and-dcc-transport-councillor-during-the-say-no-to-sidford-business-park-meeting/

“The only way to ensure proposals like the Sidford Business Park and others like it stay in the dustbin of history is for the community to buy it themselves.

Those are the words of campaigners who would like to see the Two Bridges site, where the multi-million pound scheme is proposed, turned into an area for the good of the community – but it would only work if the plans were rejected and the landowners agreed to sell.

More than 100 people attended the latest No Sidford Business Park meeting on Wednesday at St Peter’s Church Hall, Sidford.

Permission is being sought to build 8,445sqm of employment floor space but among the concerns raised are flooding risks and the extra traffic, especially lorries, it could bring to the area’s ‘inadequate’ roads.

During the meeting, John Loudoun from the group, revealed they now had 1,379 signatures on their petition, which opposed the plans and was only carried out in Sidford and Sidbury. And by the time they present the petition to East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Development and Management Committee, campaigners say it will have more than 1,400 names on it.

John said: “The call to you and everybody out there – and your friends, your family, your neighbours – is please come along on Tuesday, October 30, at 9.15am at The Knowle and be with us when we present the 1,400 signatures to the committee.

“Let’s try now and make sure that this is the second time that we actually kick this planning application and any others like it into the dustbin of history.”

Councillor Marianne Rixson said: “I really can’t see what has changed since last time.

“If we are lucky, it could be refused again, which would leave us potentially facing yet another revised application at some date in the future. But personally, I don’t relish the prospect of wading through another 500-plus pages of documents so I have a radical suggestion. How would you feel about trying to raise the money to buy this land. I can’t promise they would agree to sell but this is the only way we can guarantee that this development or something similar couldn’t happen. Once the Japanese knotweed on the site has been eradicated it could then be a community asset and used for the public good.”

Cllr Rixson said she believed the landowner, Tim Ford, paid around £402,000 for the site.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/nearly-1-400-residents-say-no-to-sidford-business-park-1-5733085