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Corridor improvement programme - urgent

From Jon West

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Hi all,

Thought I'd better share this link on here regarding the corridor improvement programme that the council is rushing through, with minimal public consultation or publicity.  Please note this requires urgent attention as the closing dates for feedback is 27th January 2020.

Here is the link to the feedback page

This is the main council page detailing the CIP

There is an option to provide feedback, so I'm hoping this will allow the voice of Hebden Bridge residents to be heard.

In my opinion, the plan has glaring omissions regarding improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure and there has been a strong bias towards benefits for motor vehicles exclusively.  

This flies in the face of a global trend towards encouraging journeys to be taken by bicycle and on foot due to the obvious sustainability, environmental, economic, and health reasons.

In particular the omission of a dedicated "mobility hub" in Hebden Bridge will be of concern to those who reside in Hebden Bridge and surrounding areas.

Please share widely on local facebook groups and ensure that your voice is heard on the topic.  Hopefully this will prevent residents from missing out on contributing to the outcome of this once in a generation upgrade to our transport infrastructure.

From Mark H

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Steady on - nothing's being rushed through with minimal consultation.

The draft proposals were published and consulted on during the summer of 2018. I was pleased to discuss them and make my comments to the very well informed Council officers at Hebden town hall.

Since then there have been amendments and adjustments which are now published, as expected by the overall project timetable. If you follow the links given in the previous post you can see the detailed plans which are now being put forward.

I don't agree with all of the proposed improvements, but I  am aware of the need for improvements all the way through the Calder Valley, for all modes of transport. The funding for this scheme is largely devoted to improvement of the trunk roads, I think, so if Council officers have managed to incorporate public realm improvements too - pedestrianisation of parts of Tod, better pavements and junctions favouring human-powered traffic then so much the better.

There's a lot to be said for keeping an eye on the Council, and all it does for us in spite of the effect of decades of cuts and a particularly bad case of Austeria more recently. 

I'd go so far as to say that there's much more to be said for keeping an eye on Facebook - at least the Council is obliged to answer your questions, and keep information about you confidential.

From J Swift

Friday, 17 January 2020

Leaving aside the merits or otherwise of the proposals (where are all the cars going to park that now park on Burnley Road?), the prospect of disruption caused by further road works on the A646 just as the EA ones finish is enough to drive one to despair.

I have tried to use the website to respond, but by accident or design, it is so buggy as to be unusable. I also note that the events were held when anyone working normal hours would have been unable to attend.  I suspect the council sees the scheme as a fait accompli, and the 'consultation' is a fig leaf.

We have local elections in May.  Let's hear what our councillors are saying about this.

From Alan Truman

Saturday, 18 January 2020

As referenced earlier this public consultation has been ongoing for 18 months now with feedback and wider engagement through community, town council and open public events. “Rushed through” it has not been. Having visited the day event earlier this week and studied thoroughly the plans whilst talking to council officers and reading feedback from the HB business association (HBBA) I thought I'd proffer an alternative and better informed stance.

The scheme is although being delivered by Calderdale is funded by the West Yorkshire combined authority (WYCA) and has strict guidelines as to what should be achieved, that is improved journey time not to speed up traffic which would be illegal. 

The “corridor” from Tod to Halifax is real as is congestion around Machpelah and Market street, (partly through parked cars and through A646 priority turning onto Keighley Road). This scheme although not perfect seeks to address that.

Hebden Bridge is a quirky and alternative thinking town. One with 3 Labour councillors, a Labour town council and plenty of free thinking creatives yet the HBBA seem keen on keeping the town dominated by the almighty car. When similar pretty towns in the Dales and Lake District have no car parking centrally without any detriment to trade, to suggest such is a nonsense.  60 more car parking spaces at the now fully accessible Hebden Bridge train station and 200 more in Mytholmroyd both with mobility hubs are the real “park and ride” (or walk) suggested here. 

Therefore, the removal of around say 50 cars at Mayroyd in favour of a segregated cycleway is much welcomed and should have no impact on parking (god forbid). Although personally I would like to see more cycle infrastructure generally, I understand within the confines of the funding criteria they have dropped in bits like this where possible.

I wonder who the business forum truly represents? Many small business owners are mindful now of their impact upon the planet. I wonder if they had a say? Do we want to be a town known for cars jostling for a spot and parking everywhere now we have 260 more spaces within walking distance coming or through this and the upcoming flood works is there an opportunity to rid ourselves of the smelly car in the centre of town?

Hebden Bridge is in an air quality management area, stopping cars and HGVS stop-starting will have many benefits to overall air quality which is broadly improving according to reports, this is surely a good thing. 

Finally, I asked the question to officers about disruption around the flood scheme. I was told that although the works would begin later this year, it would be staggered with neither the flood scheme or the Corridor work having very little effect on the main highway like seen in Mytholmroyd. 

I wait to see reflections from the local XR group on this scheme as well as the disability forum, councillors and cyclists, as im sorry to say the HBBA response was kneejerk, ill informed and entirely negative without any wider knowledge of other schemes - which would be known had any of them taken the time to speak to officers (as I did).

From M King

Monday, 20 January 2020

 I went to the Town Hall consultation on 13th December, and was very disappointed by the way the process is being handled. The changes are timetabled to start at the end of 2020.

The Calderdale Council representatives were all consultants who seemed to have little idea about Hebden Bridge and how many visitors come to the town, where visitors come from, or how important people are to our community.

The Town Hall event was labelled as a consultation, but was in fact presented as a fait accompli.

From discussion with the consultants there appears to have been little / no assessment of the road and parking changes and the effect it will have on visitor numbers. I asked what assessment had been undertaken on road/ parking changes vs town impacts. The council representatives were unable to give any figures of any type.

The parking on the road was blamed only on commuters, and that visitor parking was not an important factor. I asked where were people going to park following the removal of main road parking, and was told people should park in the station car park or Coop. I am sure that will be a surprise to both sites. 

(The loss of parking is going to be exacerbate further when the flood defence work starts soon. The contractors will be taking over at least one car park for their offices and management parking).

I was also told by one of the council consultants, that they had travelled to Hebden Bridge that day, and there was no train problems and visitors were essentially local. I was told that I was simply making excuses as to why visitors may not want to take two or more trains to get to our town, but rather drive.

As many of  towns and villages are suffering from economic effects, we as a community already do our upmost to bring in visitors and keep our part of the valley thriving. This is why Hebden Bridge is frequently cited as a place to go to.

I am all for making improvements, but before road and parking measures are initiated, we need to have the robust transport infrastructure that the valley needs in place first. 

From Gary W

Monday, 20 January 2020

I too went along to the consultation event last week and do not recognise M. King's characterisation of it. The officers at the event were fully on top of the details and it was clear that a great deal of time, effort and planning had gone into these proposals.

Whenever significant changes are considered, there are always some positives and some negatives. So long as the former significantly outnumber and outweigh the latter (which they do in this case) we should be receptive to embracing change. 

It goes without saying that those car drivers that park on the main road near the station, will be a little miffed. However, the station car park will be expanded considerably, along with the provision of a number of extra spaces near to the former Walkleys Clogs site. The designers have obviously tried their best to balance the competing factors at play. 

As far as the positives are concerned, all the car drivers, bus passengers, goods transporters (for small, medium and large businesses) will benefit in shorter journey times as they travel through the valley. And these will number on the tens of thousands over the course of each and every week.

Who else will benefit? Well, all those local residents that live along Market Street and in other localities where dangerous levels of air polution blight their daily lives. Of course, the benefits in terms of improvement to these pockets of poor air quality will not be massive. But they will nevertheless be significant and long lasting. The solutions to combatting deadly air pollution do not come in the form of a magic silver bullet. Especially at local governement level. Instead, implementing as many small improvments as posible is the only practical and realistic approach that is available. The bigger the problem, the more important it is to embrace solutions that help tackle it. Even if the benefits are not as big as one would hope for.

When we compare the winners and losers from this scheme, it is blatently obvious that far more people/businesses/residents will benefit from it than will lose out. Many of those winners will gain from an improvement in air quality. The health of the any losers will not be be affected in any way at all. 

The designers of this scheme should be commended. They have done their best to balance the various competing factors. And they have tried to ensure that as few people as possible will be negatively impacted by these necessary improvements.

From Kez Armitage

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

 I've been pretty neutral on this issue up to now. I'm not averse to change - for heaven's sake, we've see so many different road layouts, as new graduates in Town Planning try to put their mark on our town, that we've come to expect it every decade or so! Whatever is put in place this time won't last long.

Several recent posts do, however, leave me puzzled.

Mr Trueman says that the scheme is designed to improve journey times rather than  speed up traffic which, in his words, "would be illegal". Now I know I am putting my schoolboy maths against the wealth of experience of a qualified engineer, but surely distance = time x speed? So if the distance remains the same, and the time is reduced, surely speed has to go up? Is that really illegal? Or is there another way to "improve journey times" that I haven't considered?

Gary W says "..it is blatantly obvious that far more people/businesses/residents will benefit from it than will lose out" That is an incredible assertion from someone who has merely visited a Council roadshow. I assume he has more research results and more evidence to justify his claim. As it stands, I think I would rather accept the opinions of the HB Business Forum, who have the welfare and prosperity of local businesses at heart, than an individual. So Gary, can you provide more evidence to back up your 'blatantly obvious' claim?

OK, call me a cynic, but I've seen too many of these 'consultations' not to realise that they are simply box-ticking exercises. In other words, 'we've consulted the hoi pollio but we'll ignore them anyway'. If this consultation were genuine, how could you begin to put a timescale on the commencement of construction?

And I won't even start on the almost paranoid aversion to cars apart from the fact that they're with us, there will certainly be more, and we need to accommodate them.

From Adrian Crowther

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Looking at those plans, it seems that there will be no right turn from Burnley Road onto Commercial Street / A6033 when approaching from Mytholmroyd so all traffic for Dodd Naze, Wadsworth, Peckett Well, Oxenhope and Keighley will be directed through the town center to the junction of Albert Street / Commercial Street.

Traffic for Birchcliffe, Dodd Naze, Wadsworth, etc will then have to negotiate the ridiculously tight left hand turn onto Birchcliffe Road. 

I see nothing in those plans about making alterations to that junction to allow vehicles to safely use the the "wrong" side of the road to have enough room to swing out and make the manoeuvre in one attempt. Far from improving traffic flow I feel this will become a serious point of congestion and potential danger.

From Tim Brooks

Friday, 24 January 2020

Adrian, traffic coming from Tod or Keighley already have to go on the opposite side of the road to go up Birchcliffe.  By removing the traffic coming from the Halifax direction I assume the idea is to remove this point of conflict and improve traffic flow at the Albert Street/Keighley Road junction.  Again I'm assuming, but modelling should have been done to show that the junctions can cope with the changes in traffic flow.

Kez, in response to your point about speed, I think it's more about smoothing the traffic flow so there is less stop start.  In principle, if traffic can move at or near the speed limit then journey time will be reduced.  Conversely, idling time/static traffic and associated air pollution will be reduced.

From Gary W

Friday, 24 January 2020

Hi Kez. I thought the logic behind my statement was pretty obvious. One simply has to add the huge number of people/businesses that would benefit from reduced journey times (in and out of as well as through the valley) to the number of people that will benefit from the greatly increased parking availability at the station. Add to that, the number of residents that would benefit from an improvement in air quality. And then, subtract the number of people/businesses that will understandably feel a little inconvenienced at no longer being able to park on the main road. The predictions of how much quicker the journey times would be are in the plans.

I am not suggesting you should accept my opinions over those of the HB Business Forum. Perhaps you could come to your own conclusion? Don't forget though, that when pedestrianisation of St George's Square was being considered several years ago, most of the shops and businesses located there were strongly against it. In fact, the owner of one shop was so incensed that he promised to close his business down if the plans got implemented. Indeed, that is precisely what he did. But does anyone now seriously believe that the pedestrianistion of the town centre was the wrong thing to do?

I will be happy to provide you with additional evidence regarding my claims Kez, once you have provided me with some evidence to back up your claim that:

"..we've see[sic] so many different road layouts, as new graduates in Town Planning try to put their mark on our town.."

Are you seriously suggesting that these changes are being proposed simply because inexperienced University leavers are wanting to 'make their mark'? I am afraid to say that strikes me as an inaccurate, unfair and unduly cynical view that is not supported by the available evidence.

From Dave R

Friday, 24 January 2020

A major flaw in the plan is that buses to Dodnaze and Old Town will be unable to make the right turn up to Birchcliffe. They currently come up from Commercial Street and go down via Crown Street. The company are not able to reroute via Keighley Road, due to parked cars at Nutclough and route times. This is a well used service and carries school children, the shoppers and commuters up and down the hillside. Losing this route would be catastrophic for isolated people. 

From Ian M

Sunday, 26 January 2020

It's interesting to see that not a single correspondent had acknowledged that there is a world beyond Hebden Bridge!
In fact there are over 15,000 residents living a couple of miles up the valley who are sick and tired of the of the traffic chaos and journey time delays caused by their much smaller neighbour.

Tbe quirky tourist tag may a positive thing for some but not others.

From Gary W

Sunday, 26 January 2020

There have been relatively few disruptions to traffic flow in Hebden Bridge over recent years, and the current delays are due to essential flood improvement works in Mytholmroyd, not, HB Ian. Perhaps if you are looking to apportion blame and responsibilty for that, you should direct your annoyance to God, for these delays directly flow from one of one of His acts. And the current proposals are not an unwelcome love child of Hebden Bridge's residents and their officials. They are designed regionally to improve the travel times (and for some people, pockets of poor air quality) for residents of the entire area, including Todmorden. My intial post did try to convey this last point.

As for the legitimate concerns of Adrian Crowther and Dave R, the plans do seem to include improving the junction from Commercial St to Birchcliffe Road (see here ...click on the bottom left 'Town Centre png' to view).

I am asuming the planners are aware of this important and well used bus route and will allow for that bus to come up Albert st (instead of its current Commertial St route) and to be able to make the sharp left turn. However, just in case they haven't, this is exactly the type of issue that needs to be flagged up during this consultation period. Indeed, I have put this very question to them and will post their response here once it comes. By the way, the deadline for the consultation process is 14th February.

From Bernard B

Sunday, 26 January 2020

I am sure that segregated cycle provision on the A646 is pretty low down on the wish list for most regular cyclists. It just looks like an excuse to remove some car parking, as they could achieve the same effect by redesignating the existing footway as shared use. Don't get me wrong, it will be great if you only ever cycle between the station and Fallingroyd, but if you go further than that in either direction there are immediate pinch points where the road narrows, cyclists are vulnerable, but segregated cycle lanes are impossible.

If the council are serious about encouraging cycle provision, let's see some plans for the Bridge Lanes uphill section, central Mytholmroyd, Luddendenfoot to Tuel Lane, the narrower sections of Cragg/Turvin Road, and the A58 leading up to Blackstone Edge. Not dedicated cycle lanes, but how about "soft" cycle lanes ie markings and green tarmac to encourage cars to leave a safe margin when overtaking.

From Kez Armitage

Sunday, 26 January 2020

"Are you seriously suggesting that these changes are being proposed simply because inexperienced University leavers are wanting to 'make their mark'?"

Well of course, Gary W, that was somewhat tongue-in-cheek but not without some foundation. In the forty plus years I've lived here, there have been numerous changes to traffic flow and pedestrianisation. I know you'd like me to identify them all, but they're simply too unmemorable for me to remember (sorry, it's an age thing!). We simply live with them, knowing they are a passing fad and will be changed before too long, as will the current proposals. There are so many more important things in life to worry about!

But I still take exception to the 'blatently (sic) obvious' comment. Are these proposals going to blatantly and obviously help struggling businesses in Hebden Bridge? Or will they encourage cars to move as swiftly as possible through our town with no chance of parking and spending money? Surely the input from local businesses should be taken into account? And isn't their only effective corporate voice the Hebden Bridge Business Forum?

As for the consultation that Calderdale have undertaken - we know what the proposals are at present. Let's see what difference the articulate and informed comments from the residents of Hebden Bridge make to these proposals. I suspect zilch!

From Graham Barker

Monday, 27 January 2020

Ian is right. Even allowing for Mytholmroyd roadworks, whenever I’ve driven between Halifax and Tod - outside rush hours too - the slowest section has always been the centre of HB, making up a disproportionate chunk of total journey time. I’m grateful I’ve never had to do it regularly. I’m not sure though whether these proposals will make much difference to traffic flow or anything else. The problem with HB and traffic is that everyone wants a better cake but the ingredients remain stubbornly the same.

See also

HebWeb News: Opposition grows to "traffic improvements".
(17 Jan 2020)

HebWeb News: Have your say on road improvement plans
(Jan 2020)