6 Nov 2015

How to waste £1.1 million in Hamilton Square

Wirral Council is consulting on plans to establish a new road in front of Birkenhead Town Hall, Hamilton Square. Traffic would run both ways for the entire length of Hamilton Street.

This will completely change the character of the area and I  know that many local residents and businesses are very unhappy about this. It also represents a shocking waste of £1.1 million at a time when public services are being cut left, right and centre.

What does the scheme involve?

Opening Hamilton Street to traffic along its entire length including the area in front of the town hall

How much will it cost?

£1.1 million. £700k from Wirral Council, £400k from Merseytravel

Why is the council proposing this?

A good question and one that council officers I spoke to at the first drop-in session were unable to answer satisfactorily. It seems to be some kind of half-baked idea to "liven up the square". Instead it will have the opposite affect. It is beyond doubt that increased traffic discourages people from using public spaces. The scheme clearly conflicts with several pledges contained in Wirral's recently released five year plan most notably with respect to healthier living and safe neighbourhoods.

Frankly, the council has found a pot of money and, instead of consulting properly about how the money should be spent, has told their highways department to come up with something. Unsurprisingly, they have developed a scheme which is purely focused on motor vehicles and addresses a problem that does not exist. There is already ample provision for traffic flow in the area. If anything, Hamilton Square needs more pedestrianisation, not less.

The fundamental issue is that poor town planning has sidelined the square by shifting the town centre away from its historic centre i.e. Hamilton Square/Market Street. This scheme does absolutely nothing to address that. Indeed there are many excellent ideas to regenerate the area none of which think increasing traffic flow around Hamilton Square is a good idea.

What's wrong with this scheme?

Everything. Effectively Hamilton Square will be a giant roundabout. Traffic volume, noise and pollution will increase. Residents and visitors will no longer be able to use the public space in front of the town hall. Weddings and other functions will dry up resulting in a loss of revenue to the council. The £1.1 million cost of the project is a colossal waste of public funds.

How to make your voice heard

It is vital that anyone opposed to this scheme takes part in the consultation. Wirral Council has not made this as easy as it could be so please follow these steps by November 13th at the latest:
  • Go to www.wirral.gov.uk/highways
  • Click on "Comments and objections about new traffic schemes"
  • Enter your contact details
  • On the next page enter the name of the scheme ("Hamilton Square re-design") followed by the scheme number - DC-STEP-1516-2
  • Then select "object to the scheme" from the drop down menu
  • You then need to state your reasons for objecting. This could be as simple as "extra noise, pollution, loss of amenity, waste of public funds" or you can, of course, give your own reasons.
Shockingly, there is currently zero provision for anyone without internet access to contribute to this consultation. If this affects you please contact me asap and I will ensure your views are included.

The last of two drop-in session where you can view the plans takes place in Birkenhead Town Hall on Tuesday, November 10th, 3-7pm. Wirral Council has failed to provide on-line access to the plans for those who can't attend. However, Wirral Green Party has created one. To view the plans visit http://bit.ly/20rDAqD

6 comments:

  1. For once I entirely agree with the Greens concerning this proposal. A complete waste of money and in the most part that of council tax payers. Hamilton Square long ago ceased to be the hub of the town when parking charges were introduced and the retail centre was shifted over to the precinct and Grange Road. As a major contributor to the scheme I suspect Merseytravel is one of the instigators !! I attended the Remembrance Day service on Sunday. In future years are those of us attending going to have dodge the Cross River Express in between the hymns and the wreath laying ?

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  2. I quite agree.Allowing traffic to flow past the town hall will do nothing to breathe any more life into the square.Maybe if they repaired all the lights and tended the gardens like they used to it would help a lot more.All but 1 of the banks moved to the precint followed by many buisnesses moving location so now the square is rapidly becoming a residential area and the last thing residents want is traffic hurtling through this now tranquil and safe place.Use the money to look after the gardens and the historic buidings.

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  3. I quite agree.Allowing traffic to flow past the town hall will do nothing to breathe any more life into the square.Maybe if they repaired all the lights and tended the gardens like they used to it would help a lot more.All but 1 of the banks moved to the precint followed by many buisnesses moving location so now the square is rapidly becoming a residential area and the last thing residents want is traffic hurtling through this now tranquil and safe place.Use the money to look after the gardens and the historic buidings.

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  4. Given that the council are facing a mounting deficit for essential services for the vulnerable within the borough this is nothing less than immoral. The pavements outside the town hall will be needed as accommodation - how short sighted to remove them :)

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  5. The present arrangement has been in place nearly 20years an has helped make the square a calm and safe place. A thorough consultation was undertaken by the hamilton quarter and considerable amount of money spent in this project so i cannot understand why so much more has to be spent again in reversing it!!as the saying goes if it aint broken dont fix it!!

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  6. Weddings will dry up? Don't talk rot. The registry office is by far the cheapest place to get married ao those on a lower budget will still go there, theu can still walk across the road to the park for pictures. I fail to see how the weddings will conpletely dry up, I'd be surprised if they lost more than 10% of their weddings

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