STATEMENT BY MIKE CHITTY, ON BEHALF OF
THE GATEACRE SOCIETY, TO LIVERPOOL CITY COUNCIL'S TRAFFIC & HIGHWAYS REPRESENTATION COMMITTEE,
2nd SEPTEMBER 2014
I submitted 'Objection 138' (as it is called in this Committee's Agenda Report) on behalf of the Gateacre Society. I don't propose to reiterate everything that was said in it. Instead I shall be concentrating on the various aspects of our objection that have, in our view, either been misunderstood or left unanswered by the Officers.
The main thrust of our objection is the City Council's failure to follow Government guidance relating to the preparation of traffic calming schemes. This failure was, in our view, widespread. It covered five different aspects: the definition of the scheme's objectives, the proof of the need for the scheme, consideration of the scheme's consequences, evaluation of possible alternatives, and consultation with relevant bodies.
We say that the Council has FAILED TO DEFINE THE OBJECTIVES OF THE SCHEME. This appears in the Agenda Report as Objection Point 3.62: "Liverpool Council have not followed best practice". The Officer Comment is simply "The standard Liverpool City Council procedure for dealing with objections has been adhered to". What we were actually referring to was the Department for Transport's statement that "Speed limits should be evidence-led". We have yet to see the evidence on which this particular proposal is based. In October 2013 we were told by Stephen Walker, of the Council's Highways Department, that they had carried out a 'desktop assessment' which revealed that there were barriers to pedestrians and cyclists. When we asked for a copy, we were told "There is no copy ... to provide you with as this was only a desktop exercise".
We say that the Council has FAILED TO PROVE THE NEED FOR THE SCHEME. This has been paraphrased as Objection Point 3.37: "Why are traffic calming measures needed now?". The Officer Comment is "When the new [Aldi] development was proposed, a transport assessment was required and this identified the need for traffic calming measures". In September 2013 we were told by Stephen Walker that "Agreement was reached between the developer and the Highway Authority as to the extent of the measures necessary". In support of this claim, he referred us to a document on the Council's Planning Explorer website; but we discovered that this document - the Transport Statement produced in 2013 by Cameron Rose for Aldi - states: "As the proposed development dramatically reduces the potential vehicular attraction of the site, it is now considered that the need for traffic calming of Gateacre Park Drive ... is not required". When we pointed this out, Mr Walker said: "We are not surprised that the developer's own transport consultant says there is no requirement for additional measures". In which case, why are the measures still being proposed? Or is the Council suggesting that Cameron Rose are not professionally competent?
In our objection statement we also asked why Gateacre Park Drive - constructed in the 1960s as a through route, with wide pavements and grass verges keeping pedestrians well away from the passing traffic - is considered especially appropriate as a 20mph zone. This has been dealt with as Objection Point 3.93: "Gateacre Park Drive is a local distributor". The Officer Comment is "A 30mph speed limit is not a requirement for a local distributor or a by-pass. In this case a 20mph limit is deemed necessary in order to protect pedestrians". The point we were making was that a 20mph limit on Gateacre Park Drive will encourage drivers to use other, less suitable, roads (such as Gateacre Brow) where pedestrians will be put at greater risk.