UDC and ECC remove local approval for traffic schemes, forcing Saffron Walden Town Council to abandon Judicial Review of widespread parking ban

Following UDC and ECC’s process change to remove any local approval for new traffic schemes, Saffron Walden Town Council has felt forced to withdraw from the judicial review of the district and county council’s decision to restrict parking on a mile of the towns roads, including Ashdon Rd, Borough Lane, Mount Pleasant Rd, Peaslands Road, and parts of Thaxted Rd.

John Lodge (R4U)John Lodge
R4U Chair & Leader UDC

Councillor John Lodge of R4U said “There is no legitimate need to clear these streets of parking for residents and workers, and there is little support for it. UDC proposed building urban-clearways through Saffron Walden to enable them to build huge housing estates on the east of Saffron Walden. But these housing proposals were discredited by Planning Inspectors and rejected by ECC Highways, and so abandoned by UDC. But the unneeded urban clearway scheme still persists. Furthermore with the closing of the former Friends School, traffic has eased considerably in the morning and evening commutes. R4U and the Town Council are clear that UDC’s scheme is not needed and will reduce safety – and UDC have no solution for how residents without drives and people working in town will park when the parking places are lost. This is yet another example of Conservative administrations riding roughshod over the needs and wishes of Saffron Walden residents.”

Cllr Lodge continued “It is an unnecessary and poorly thought out scheme; there has been no analysis of the effects on pedestrian safety, despite the number of schools that will be affected, and both R4U and the Town Council have fought it. The Town Council started the Judicial Review process because the UDC and ECC quango that is implementing UDC’s scheme failed to get local residents’ approval, as was required. We are disappointed that the Town Council has now withdrawn from the Judicial Review, but understand they felt they had little option. UDC and ECC have changed their process to exclude ANY local approval from local residents when implementing such significant schemes. That means that money spent on any judicial review victory would be a waste of tax-payer money in the end; UDC would just apply for the scheme again, this time without requiring local approval. So whilst a moral victory would be good and the right thing, the Town Council needs to be prudent with tax-payers’ money.”

ECC painted the first yellow lines last week as soon as the Saffron Walden Town Council announced that they had withdrawn from the Judicial Review.”

11 Replies to “UDC and ECC remove local approval for traffic schemes, forcing Saffron Walden Town Council to abandon Judicial Review of widespread parking ban”

  1. Laura Back

    This is really scary news – we live on Ashdon Road and have no driveway. Are they really allowed to take away our already limited parking? I have a baby so can’t imagine having to park elsewhere – and where else is there? I guess if the yellow lines are put on our road we’ll have no choice but to still park here and receive a ticket every day – which we will not pay. This would massively devalue our (and neighbours) houses as it would make living here completely impossible! Surely this can be challenged?

    • R4U

      We did challenge it when we had an R4U county councillor. He referred it to the ECC Scrutiny Committee. Unfortunately UDC sent down their lawyer and one of their Conservative Cabinet members, Susan Barker (who is from Dunmow and also responsible for the Uttlesford Local Plan and who has been trying to build 1,000s of houses on the east of Saffron Walden or the last 5+ years). She told them they needed to do it for new homes and parking was so bad on our roads she was frightened driving in to Saffron Walden to work at UDC. She then said our objection was politically motivated and urged the Tories on the committee to vote for the scheme, which they duly all did. It was shocking anti-democracy in action. Then R4U and other councillors on the Saffron Walden Town Council tried to Judicial Review the decision to overturn it because UDC and ECC had failed to get approval from the Town Council. But then UDC and ECC changed their process so they didn’t need to get any Town Council approval for any new traffic schemes. Again another anti-democratic move by the local Conservatives. So SWTC pulled out of the Judicial Review because even if they’d won, UDC could just apply to do the scheme again, and this time the Town Council wouldn’t be able to oppose it because UDC & ECC had cut them out. At this point we’re afraid the only way to get the yellow lines removed is to vote the Tories out from UDC in the 2019 local elections. However ECC have an obligation to all road users and so should be providing parking elsewhere. We suggest you write to them/email them and ask them how they propose to do this. They probably don’t have an answer as they didn’t before during the Scrutiny Committee review, but they have an obligation to provide it and should be asked.

  2. Anne. Barker

    There is no thought given to older people who can’t just walk further. There needs to be a reasonable balance.

    • R4U

      Unfortunately it pretty clear neither UDC or ECC care about what local people need or wish – they believe they know what’s best for us 🙁

  3. Marion Gillman

    The arrogance of these decision makers is breathtaking.
    I wrote in March this year 2017 to North Essex Parking Partnership when I learnt of the no parking proposals for Saffron Walden.
    Not living on any of the roads to be affected, I felt I could not be accused of ‘ nimbyism’ by expressing my concerns. Where residents could park and the impact on their lives as a result, the fact that there was no regard given to the serious safety issues that would arise for pedestrians – worsening air quality,the inevitable rise of traffic speed with no safety proposals and pointing out that the town needs a ring road to resolve the problems created by overdevelopment of our town being some of my concerns.
    In the response I received from Trevor Degville via Jason Butcher’s office on 13th March, they thanked me for taking part in the consultation process. They pointed out that there had been general opposition as well as support for the proposals which would go ahead – for the ‘ safe movement of vehicles’ – not the safety of the residents/ pedestrians having to use these routes please note!They ‘appreciate (d) the outcome is (was) not what you were hoping for’.
    This came from people located in Colchester…

    • R4U

      Mr Degville is being economical with the truth. Their consultation generated 283 objections and only 15 supporters – which is 5%. Their approval process in place at the time required a “weight of local support (at least 50% of area in favour).” It was clearly not the case. None the less the Tories whipped it through, then changed the process so ZERO local support is now required for such schemes. Shocking.

  4. Heather Higgins

    What is the real agenda for these parking restrictions all day from Monday to Friday? On average between 8 am and 9 am 9 cars a minute pass my house on Peaslands Road. At other times it is 5 cars a minute, increasing again at school pick up times.

    I spoke to a man at the North Essex Parking Partnership this morning to ask where tradesmen, builders etc were expected to park when called to houses that have no or limited off road parking. I was told builders could park to unpack their tools but if they were working out of their vans they could remain outside the property. Builders may need to get dispensation to park for long projects. The idea of the parking restrictions was so people wouldn’t park all day and leave vehicles unattended. He said “tradesmen could obviously park, they just have to be sensible and not cause an obstruction on the road.”
    I was surprised at this response but would like to get clarification of this in writing.
    I was told in a letter from the North Essex Parking Partnership last March that these parking restrictions remain an important part of overall transport improvements to Saffron Walden. Are they planning to implement the proposals in a consultation document produced last year making Thaxted and Debden roads one way and create chaos on London Road and through the town centre?

    • R4U

      You must get it in writing and please email us a copy when you get a letter. You are right the traffic volumes today don’t warrant these types of restrictions. After 8:40 and before 17:00 these streets are almost empty. All day restrictions make no sense. ECC has a legal obligation to maintain the highways for all road users, including people that park. They are clearly failing in this regard. The real agenda is the UDC leadership’s desire to build more houses on the east of Saffron Walden. If they clear a fast route through town and create an urban clearway, they can allow 1,000s more homes on the east. They asked ECC to put these restrictions in place. UDC leader Howard Rolfe claims it is to improve traffic flow and reduce pollution. These restrictions are clearly not needed at this point for the former and they actually increase pollution. Pollution is mainly caused by idling engines at junctions. Rather than having a metering effect on traffic flow, by removing parking, cars speed between junctions, causing longer queues at each junction, pushing pollution up. Any traffic consultant will tell you that. In depositions to ECC last year, Cllr Rolfe’s Conservative UDC cabinet colleague Cllr Susan Barker told ECC that the restrictions were needed to (1) allow more houses to be built on the east of Saffron Walden and (2) improve road safety because her commute to work at UDC from Dunmow was dangerous and she was frightened about the traffic on Peaslands Rd and something need to be done. The people deciding at ECC don’t know the local roads so they believed her. I’ll leave you to decide if she was telling the trust of not, but you live on Peaslands Rd so you know it doesn’t have a poor accident record…

      • Heather Higgins

        If Cllr Barker thinks the traffic on Peaslands Road is dangerous she shouldn’t be driving. It will however become more dangerous with faster traffic for people to reverse out of their driveways.

        • Heather Higgins

          My reply from Jason Butcher art NEPP parking systems team leader is:
          Our decision to issue dispensations to workers is taken on a case by case basis as it would largely depend on how long works were due to take and how many vehicles were needing to park. We would always decline applications that were to cause significant obstruction or that would be counter-productive to what the restriction was trying to achieve. I would suggest that if you have any work due to take place, to call us on 012026 282316 and one of my colleagues will be happy to discuss the specifics with you.

          We do not allow any specific waiting or drop off times for parents at the school. It is possible to set down and pick up a passenger on a single yellow line but this wouldn’t enable a driver to leave the vehicle unattended or to wait for a passenger to come to the vehicle. At this time, it would not be appropriate to discuss an extended parking time for parents. We need to ensure that restrictions are enforced fairly and consistently to avoid any confusion for all motorists.

          Any tradespeople would require a dispensation although we do offer specific annual tradespeople permits which the traders would need to purchase themselves from us.

          It would be interesting to know who the school/nursery had spoken to in relation this alleged agreement? I have confirmed with the Area Manager for enforcement and they have confirmed that their teams do not give this allowance currently.

          Parents and residents need to consider all parking provisions and to locate unrestricted parking, even if that does involve a longer walk. We are unable to permit parking for convenience in locations where restrictions already apply whether this is a resident or a parent of a child at the local schools. Should a review of the restrictions be desired, this would need support from a local councillor and a large majority of residents in the area. I can provide information on how to request a review of the restrictions should you wish.

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