Money for New Traffic Scheme in Quiet Rural Village, but Not Enough Cash to Keep Excellent Recycling Centre Open? Council’s Odd Priorities
Solutions in search of a problem? The changes to Llangadog under consideration by Carmarthenshire County Council, for “safety” and “enhancement” include triple traffic lights, restricted parking, pedestrian crossing points, and narrowing of the roadway.
Yesterday, the county council thoughtfully staged an exhibition of the five separate options drawn up for them by design consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff, a US firm acquired by the UK’s Balfour Beatty construction and infrastructure group in 2009. Parsons Brinckerhoff are not exactly local but they do have an office in Cardiff, which is one of their more than 150 offices on five continents.
“Why do this?” I wondered, thinking about the costs of ‘safety and enhancement’ works in the village of Llangadog, which is neither a notorious accident blackspot not overwhelmed with traffic jams. During the 25+ years of my frequent trips to and through this historic village, which comes complete with its own council-designated Conservation Area, I have on several occasions had to wait a few seconds for a bus or big van to make its way down Church Street, but have never experienced a significant delay. When crossing the road, I have never thought ‘When will this traffic ever stop?’
The exhibition was accompanied by a questionnaire, asking residents to rank, from 1 to 5, the most serious traffic-related problems in the village, from a list of 13. The questionnaire is, in my view, changing the normal day-to-day issues of traffic flow into ‘problems’ requiring (probably expensive) remedial works.
The first of the five options began with doing the ‘minimum’ – less on-street parking, narrowing the roadway to 5.5 metres, putting in three pedestrian crossing points, extending throughout the village the 20mph speed restriction which currently applies outside the primary school, and improving the pavements.
Another option adds priority direction road signs for vehicles between the community hall and the village centre, where the road is narrow. Two more options include traffic signals at three locations, one set on each of the three roads into the village, and zero parking or loading in the village centre. The final option is for ‘shared space’, the roadway level with pedestrian paths, and no parking in the centre of the village.
Obviously views on the proposals will be varied, from ‘good ideas’ to ‘waste of money’, and in this respect the effort that has already gone into preparing the plans suggests that this is not a money-saving exercise. The Welsh Government is providing finance, via the Local Government Borrowing Initiative. It does seem strange that traffic management in Llangadog has been given such high priority when, a few hundred yards down the road, the same council has said it cannot afford to renew its waste recycling contract with All Waste Services, the local business which accepts domestic waste and which recycles between 80% and 85% of the ‘rubbish’ it receives, a rate far better than the Carmarthenshire average of 53% in the final three months of 2012.
Could there be a connection between the ongoing works to strengthen the bridge over the river Sawdde, between Llangadog and Felindre, and the proposed ‘safety and enhancement’ works in the centre of Llangadog? Could the county council be preparing for significant extra traffic through Llangadog and on through Felindre and Bethlehem, down to Ffairfach?
Lorries, may be? Buses? School buses…..?
by Pat Dodd Racher