ESCRICK PARISH COUNCIL - Public consultation to increase the Parish Council precept to fund a traffic light controlled junction and pedestrian crossings at the A19 / Skipwith Road junction
Concerns about the safety of the A19 through Escrick have been a long-running concern and a frequent topic raised with the Parish Council by residents. A particular area of concern is the difficulty safely crossing the A19 to/from the bus stop, church, surgery, allotments, and The Parsonage. There are also concerns about the difficulty of vehicles getting out from Skipwith Road onto the A19, particularly northbound.
The recent ‘Neighbourhood Development Plan’ public survey was circulated to all premises in the Parish. Of the 109 responses received, 72 raised concerns relating to the A19.
The Parish Council has worked with North Yorkshire County Council as the Highways Authority responsible for Escrick, to (a) obtain a design for a traffic light scheme; and (b) obtain a quote from their contractors to implement this.
If approved, the scheme will implement a traffic light-controlled junction, with pedestrian crossings across the mouth of Skipwith Road, and across the A19 at both sides of the junction. The lights would include traffic sensors to optimise the timing of the lights sequence. Streetlighting in the area would also be improved.
The work will cost approximately £160,000. We have a fixed price quote for the majority of the work valid until March 2020.
For several years the Parish Council has been pushing the County Council (as the Highways Authority) to fund this scheme. However, we are advised that their budget position is such that they have very little funding for ‘improvement’ schemes across the entire county, and that are unable to fund this.
The Parish Council has also explored whether there are any grant funding schemes available that could cover this (none have been found), or whether the ‘Community Infrastructure Levy’ (a levy upon new developments in the district) could be used (but we are advised that it cannot).
As such the Parish Council has not been able to identify any third party to fund the scheme.
This consultation is to ascertain whether there is public support for the Parish Council to fund the scheme by raising the local Parish Council precept to cover loan repayments.
Parish Councils are able to borrow money for projects like this, through the ‘public works loan’ scheme. If there is public support, the Parish Council proposes to borrow the money over 25 years at a fixed rate, with an annual repayment of £8,455. To cover this cost, the Parish Council would need to increase the precept paid by residents of the Parish as part of their Council tax by the same amount. The precept is currently £19,000 – so this would be a 44% increase.
A band D household in Escrick currently pays approx £42 per year in Parish Council precept, so this would rise by approx £18 to approx £60 per year – an increase of about £0.36 per week. Band H households (the highest council tax band) pay approximately double these amounts, and therefore the increase would be approximately double this amount.
If residents give support to proceed with this scheme, we will have one final check for any financial contributions that may be available to reduce the borrowing required.
To get approval to borrow the money we need to evidence clear local support – therefore it is important that you complete the survey and return it before the deadline.
Figure 1: Map showing approximate location of crossings (red), and traffic lights (blue dots) - more detailed versions below:
Why not simply reduce the speed limit instead?
Parish Councils cannot set speed limits. The Highways Authority believes the speed limit through Escrick is appropriate using national guidelines. Reducing the speed limit would not solve many of the problems. At peak times the average speed of traffic through the village is below 30mph, but it is still difficult to cross the road. Escrick Parish Council and NYCC believe this proposal is the most appropriate solution to the problems.
Would a roundabout be better and cheaper? The highways authority do not think a roundabout is appropriate for the traffic flows at the junction. A roundabout would not make it easier for pedestrians to cross the road, and indeed might make it harder.
Why not simply install a pedestrian crossing? There are national guidelines regarding how far away from a junction a pedestrian crossing should be located. When combined with other constraints such as driveways, the nearest location would be opposite the Sangthai, which we consider is too far north and so many residents would not use it. It is also outside of Escrick Parish, so we would need to convince City of York Council to install it.
What about the impact upon the views of the church? The traffic light columns will be offset from key features such as the Lychgate. The Church has been consulted and is supportive of the proposals.
Why are residents of Escrick Parish having to pay, when most of the traffic is generated by others? We recognise that this is unfair – but we do not have any mechanism to make others pay for it. Put simply, as a community we face the choice between paying for this ourselves and having the certainty that it will go ahead – or continuing to search for other ways of funding it, with no guarantees if/when it will happen.
What about the ongoing maintenance costs? North Yorkshire County Council will adopt the scheme once implemented, and therefore pick-up all future maintenance costs.
Why are you only asking for a yes/no answer, I have more views I want to share? This survey is specifically about whether the Parish Council should increase the precept to enable it to borrow funds to go ahead with the proposed scheme. The requirements for the survey, and the survey template are provided by central Government who must provide approval for the Parish Council to borrow the funds required. We have already undertaken a much broader survey during 2018 where there was the opportunity to provide feedback on a broad range of issues.
Why is additional street lighting being installed? The highways authority have minimum lighting standards that have to be met for traffic light controlled junctions. The additional street lighting brings the lighting up to those standards.
The following additional questions & answers have been added in response to queries raised by residents:
What assessment/modelling has been done on the impact on traffic/queue lengths?: As part of the design an ‘initial assessment’ has been done which concludes that the scheme will work and that queuing times from Skipwith Road will be reduced. The traffic lights will use traffic sensors and modern technology to adapt the lighting sequence/timing to traffic volumes. Whilst there will be some localised queuing on the A19, this is not expected to exacerbate peak time queues as the overall flow of traffic along the A19 is constrained by other junctions. (i.e. whilst the lights are on red in Escrick, a gap will open up in traffic ahead of the lights, and the traffic will flow through the lights to fill this gap). Remember the primary aim of the scheme is to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the road, it is not designed to improve traffic flows on the A19.
Can a trial version of the scheme be implemented using temporary lights? This is not possible. It is not feasible for temporary lights to accurately replicate the full scheme (e.g. timing sequence, traffic sensors, etc), nor would not it be feasible on cost grounds. Highways are confident that the scheme will work without the need to conduct a trial.
Can anything be done to assist access to / from the surgery access road? Can ‘keep clear’ markings be painted in front of the surgery access road/driveway? Yes 'keep clear' markings can be included.
Concerns about impact of traffic lights ‘flashing’ into bedrooms on Dower Chase: The traffic lights will use LED lights which can be set to be dimmer at light, and hence lower luminance than street lighting.
Why are the bollards in the middle of the Skipwith Road mouth being removed - this might adversely impact safety? They are not, they were omitted from the traffic signals drawing for clarity.
A bypass would be a preferable solution - why is this not being pursued? Whilst detailed costings have not been done on a bypass scheme, budgetary estimates usually range between £5m - £10m per mile (approx 1 mile required). This is beyond Parish Council borrowing limits, and not considered to be a realistic outcome.
What is the minimum number of votes required? What threshold is required to get the Parish Council's approval? The Parish Council needs to apply to the Secretary of State for DCLG for approval to borrow to fund the scheme. The application has to show clear evidence of local support, but does not specify specific thresholds or volume of responses. Parish Councillors will vote based upon the findings of the survey and other considerations whether to apply to the SoS for permission to borrow.
What is the accident record for the junction? This is publicly available via the crashmap website. This shows that in the past 10 years there have been 13 injury accidents reported in the proximity of the junction.
I want to be consulted on the design of the scheme, not just whether or not Escrick Parish Council should fund the scheme: NYCC highways have confirmed that the normal statutory consultation on the details of the scheme would be undertaken once the PC confirms that it is willing to fund the scheme.
More questions? We’ll be holding a drop-in meeting from 7pm – 7.30pm on Monday 3rd June at Escrick & Deighton Club, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please complete one survey per household by Tuesday 25th June. Any responses received after this time will be disregarded.
1) Complete the survey online here: Click here to complete survey online
2) Paper surveys will be delivered to all houses in the Parish during the week of 20th May. If you do not received one, you can download and print a survey. Please return this survey questionnaire to one of the locations detailed below:
Collection boxes are located at: Escrick Surgery; Escrick Church; Escrick Village Hall
Surveys can also be returned by post to: Escrick Parish Council, c/o 40 Linden Way, Thorpe Willoughby, YO8 9ND