In Reply to: To much traffic posted by A resident on September 28, 2000 at 16:47:19:
If "A Resident" really wanted to know what the local Liberal Democratsí stance on traffic in Hebden Bridge is, the sensible thing to do would be to ask one of us. We could then discuss all the suggestions made, rather than having to conduct an anonymous debate over the internet.
However, to give some information to those that are interested, here are a few points.
As far back as 1985 we opposed the Labour-controlled West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council designating the A646 as a Lorry Route. We believed then, as we do now, that long distance goods traffic should be directed away from the Calder Valley, not towards it. Unfortunately we lost that debate.
The Highways Agency is currently discussing plans for the M62. Some of us have already commented on this matter taking into account the regional and national aspects of the M62 and the local effects that any changes might have. Again one of our main concerns is to ensure that unsuitable traffic is kept away from the valley roads.
We have supported the transfer of the A646 trunk road from the Highways Agency (who have sub-contracted responsibility to Lancashire County Council) to Calderdale Council. Our only conditions are that the correct amount of money transfers along with this responsibility and that any work scheduled should be completed before the transfer takes place. We do not wish to take over another road without the resources to be able to maintain it.
We believe that this transfer of responsibilities will enable a more co-ordinated approach to traffic management and road safety schemes to be pursued - with a greater involvement of local people.
On the more specific matter of traffic management in Hebden Bridge, Hebden Royd Town Council established some time ago a working party to look at this matter. Its findings should be reported to Calderdale Councilís Regeneration & Development Scrutiny Committee in a short while.
What these findings will be, I do not know at present. However, Liberal Democrats would rather have discussed these in detail before any decisions were taken on parking charges in the town.
Car parking charges may well be described by A Resident as "a good way to discourage unnecessary traffic in Hebden Bridge". I would rather describe them as one way to achieve this end. They cannot be looked at in isolation as they form only a part of a much wider and more complicated picture.
We do not support the increase and extension of car parking charges suggested by the Conservatives as we see the imposition of these charges merely as a money-making exercise for the council. No thought has been given to the affect these charges may have on the vitality of the smaller towns in Calderdale.
If the shopping centre of Hebden Bridge is damaged by these proposals what will happen then? I suspect that it will lead to people driving even further to do their shopping - exactly the opposite of what we should be encouraging. Supermarkets with free parking facilities and a wide range of products on sale are not that hard to find - and they will be found to the detriment of shops and peoplesí livelihoods in Hebden Bridge.
Public transport is a key issue here and one which we are keen to address.
Whilst public transport provision locally is much better than in some very rural areas of the country, there is still room for improvement.
If you live in Blackshawhead (for example) the chances are that you will find it necessary to have access to your own car - even if you cannot really afford it. Once you have invested a substantial amount of your income in this you are unlikely to want to give it up and go shopping on the bus. If improvements to the bus and train system are made, then we can start looking at educating people to use their cars less. I think that it has to happen this way round.
Liberal Democrats want to see Hebden Bridge (and indeed all our towns and villages) thrive and have a real sense of community. To this end we have opposed closures of pubs, post offices and schools etc, and will continue to do so. We wish to see as many facilities as possible provided locally, not just to cut down on car journeys, but because it is good for the local community.
We want all our towns and villages to be places where people can live, work, visit and relax.
Increasing and extending car parking charges can, at best, play only a very small part in bringing this about.
I and all my colleagues would be more than willing to listen to any suggestions - preferably not anonymous - which would lead to an improvement in the quality of life for those people we represent on Calderdale Council.
I hope that this goes someway to explaining where the local Liberal Democrats stand on these important issues.
Councillor Jane Brown
(Liberal Democrat - Luddendenfoot ward)
PS. "A Resident" also asked where the Liberal Democrats stand on traffic calming measures. It is perhaps worth reminding people that Calderdale Council now has a Conservative majority. The Conservative leaflets delivered in May stated quite clearly that they are opposed to traffic calming. This will not, however, stop us for pushing for schemes which are clearly for the benefit of the local community.