The Parish Council believes that action is required to improve the safety of the A19 through Escrick - both for pedestrians and motorists.
Although highways issues are the statutory responsibility of North Yorkshire County Council, and the Parish Council has no direct responsibility for highways issues - the Parish Council does have a role to represent major concerns of the local community. There has been a long term history of concerns regarding the A19, and the Parish Council is not satisfied that sufficient action has been taken.
The Parish Council, County Councillor and North Yorkshire Highways Authority worked together over several years to evaluate the issues at this location. The Highways Authority (part of North Yorkshire County Council) concluded that the desirable solution, and only feasible solution, was a traffic light controlled junction, with integral pedestrian crossings. North Yorkshire County Council were unable to find funding for the capital costs of the scheme, but agreed that if the Parish Council funded the capital costs, they would proceed with the scheme and adopt it upon completion.
On 1st July, Councillors agreed to apply to the Secretary of State for permission to borrow the funds.
Whilst the Parish Council was processing this application, North Yorkshire County amended its position - and significantly advised that it would now require the Parish Council to cover the full life costs of the scheme, not just the initial capital costs. Since then the Parish Council has been seeking to engage with North Yorkshire County Council to find a mutually acceptable way forward, without success. The Parish Council continues to pursue the issue.
Why does the Parish Council not reduce the speed limit on the A19?
The Parish Council cannot set speed limits. Speed limits are the responsibility of the Highways Authority - in our case this is North Yorkshire County Council - who work closely with North Yorkshire Police. We pushed for a reduction in the limit to 30mph, but the County Council declined the request based upon national guidelines on speed limits.
What about other roads in the village / Parish?
Whilst this initiative is about the A19 through the village - the Parish Council has, and will continue, to make representations regarding other roads. In recent years speed monitoring has been undertaken on both Skipwith Road and Carr Lane. Carr Lane found no evidence of a speeding problem, however results from Skipwith Road did identify a problem and this area is now monitored by the police speed camera vans. We are aware of a catalogue of other issues throughout the Parish.
There have been a lot of serious accidents already - do you know about these?
All reported accidents are logged by the police, and these statistics are available to local authorities, the Parish Council and indeed the public. These show that for the 40mph section of A19 through Escrick there have been 22 reported accidents since 2010 - of which 20 were categorised as 'slight', 2 serious, and none fatal. Six of these occurred at the A19/Skipwith Road junction.
In May 2016 the Parish Council circulated a 'speed awareness form' from the North Yorkshire '95 alive' partnership to every household in the village. Around 70 responses were received and the Parish Council submitted these along with the attached request to the '95 alive' partnership. This letter sets out our key concerns with the A19 through Escrick.
In July we received the following reply to our letter:
Thank you for your report and concern regarding the speed of vehicles at the above location. With regards to the speeding complaint reported by you, speed and accident data has recently been obtained and has recently been reviewed by the Road Safety Partnership Team:-Having looked at the available information on roads safety in Escrick, we have decided unfortunately neither police enforcement nor road engineering works would be suitable. Data was gathered in March 2016 and it showed that vehicles do not often break the speed limits in your community. The speed data obtained indicates a mean (average) speed of 37/36 mph and an 85th %ile of 42/41 mph. The speed of vehicles at this location are well within the 40mph speed limit, which is appropriate for this road. We are happy to gather new data after three years, which in your instance would be March 2019.
Following this reply, in Summer 2016, the Parish Council met with a representative of NYCC highways team to discuss the recent history of the Skipwith Road / A19 junction. The key points made by NYCC were:
The Parish Council is not satisfied with this response - improvements could be made to the pedestrian crossing, and it is stated government policy in favour of 30mph limits through villages:
It is government policy that a 30 mph speed limit should be the norm in villages.
Traffic Advisory Leaflet 01/04 (DfT, 2004) sets out policy on achieving lower speed limits in villages, including a broad definition of what constitutes a village. For the purpose of applying a village speed limit of 30 mph, a definition of a village can be based on the following simple criteria relating to frontage development and distance:
i) 20 or more houses (on one or both sides of the road); and
ii) a minimum length of 600 metres.
If there are just fewer than 20 houses, traffic authorities should make extra allowance for any other key buildings, such as a church, shop or school.
In November 2016 the Parish Council sent a further letter to NYCC citing our dissatisfaction with the previous response, and copying our local MP:
In December 2016 we received the following reply from NYCC, setting out the technical reasons why a 30mph limit would not be possible.
Following this feedback relating to speed limits, the Parish Council decided to change its focus to requesting improvements to the pedestrian crossing - requesting either a zebra or puffin crossing to be installed.
On 7th April 2017, Parish Councillors met with representatives from NYCC highways team to discuss options for improvements to the pedestrian crossing. The current crossing consists of only a small central island, with no high visibility tarmac, no street lighting, and no traffic lights. The Parish Council would like to distinguish between funding issues, and highways standards constraints, and as such have requested that NYCC:
1) Advise of what crossing options are available for the location that comply with highways standards;
2) Provide rough costs for each option.
The highways engineers advised that it was not possible to locate a puffin or zebra crossing on the section of road, as required separation from junctions could not be achieved. The only solution would be to have a pedestrian crossing as part of a signal controlled junction (i.e. traffic lights).
Since May, the new County Councillor (Cllr Richard Musgrave) has taken up the cause, meeting with the highways teams to attempt to get the scheme prioritised for funding.
Some residents would prefer a roundabout to traffic lights - the highways engineers advise that a roundabout is unsuitable due to the significant difference in traffic flows between the A19 and Skipwith Road. In any case, a roundabout is unlikely to make crossing the road safer for pedestrians, due to the difficulty in predicting how cars will leave the roundabout.
From November 2016 - March 2017 the Parish Council also coordinated establishing a local Community Speed Watch scheme.
This is a police sponsored scheme where the police provide speed measuring equipment and training to local volunteers, who can then undertake speed monitoring at pre-agreed locations. The aim is primarily to prompt driver awareness of their speed. Community Speed Watch can only take place on areas of 30mph and 40mph road, therefore is limited to the village itself - not other areas of concern.
In March 2017 the A19 outside the Sang Thai became a designated police camera van location, and the Community Speed Watch scheme was stood down as the police do not allow CSW to operate on the same section of road as camera vans.
The Parish Council will continue to press for improvements to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the road, and motorists to exit Skipwith Road. Further updates will be published here.