29 Nov 2009

Letter to the Wirral Globe

An edited version of this letter has just been published in the Wirral Globe:


I was shocked by the comments attributed to Conservative Councillor Leah Fraser in your recent front page report "Wirral wardens to target pavement parkers". She seems to be unaware that parking on the pavement is illegal and shows scant regard for Wirral's appalling record on pedestrian safety.

Pavement parking is endemic across Wirral. Pedestrians, especially the disabled and those pushing prams, are routinely inconvenienced and put at risk by vehicles blocking their path. This is one of the reasons why Wirral is such a dangerous place to be a pedestrian. Figures recently compiled by Living Streets show that pedestrains in Wirral are 30% more likely to be killed or seriously injured than the national average. For children, the corresponding figure is a shocking 80%.

According to the Chief Examiner of the Institute of Advanced Motorists "parking on the pavement is generally illegal, unless there are signs etc. to permit it". In theory, if not in practise, this view is shared by Merseyside police who say "it is an offence for a person to park their vehicle on a pavement and they would normally get a parking ticket."

The latest proposals from Wirral Council to introduce enforcement on just half a dozen extra roads are an extremely modest step in the right direction. Moreover, on none of the roads earmarked could any responsible driver consider it acceptable to park on the pavement.

Wirral needs to shift from prioritising motor vehicles to giving proper respect to pedestrians. Until this happens, our children will contine to run unacceptable risks. This, rather than cheap point scoring, should be the real priority for Leah Fraser.

3 Nov 2009

1 Nov 2009

Activity Report for October

Welcome to my activity report for the month of October. It’s been another busy month. Details below of developments in housing, education, road safety and the usual round-up of street issues.

For quite some time I have highlighted the delays to housing renewal around our area. Frustrated by the lack of progress on new housing for Fountain Street/Whitford Road I got in touch with the media. My thanks to the Birkenhead News who carried the story on October 14th. Within days, workers were on site to give the area a deep clean. The following week we learned that the government has found £1 million to kick start the renewal programme. The full report can be read here.

This is great news for residents who have put up with so much since half their street was demolished some three years ago. Work on the new housing is now due to start before the end of this year. Hopefully Wirral Council will learn some lessons from this sorry affair. In my view, demolition has to be a last resort. In future the Council needs to think twice before ripping the heart out of our communities.

There has been much reporting lately about the Council’s controversial plans for school acadamies. Much less attention has been paid to the “consolidation” of primary school places in Birkenhead. Predictably, following an inadequate consultation exercise the Council seems intent on building a brand new primary school by Birkenhead Park. This would replace the existing schools at Cathcart Street, Cole Street and St. Laurence’s. This, however, ignores what seems the far more sensible option of expanding Cathcart Street. If you are affected by school reorganisation at either primary or secondary level I would be very interested in your views.

We learned this week that the Council is proposing to introduce 20mph limits around all schools. While this is welcome it goes nowhere near far enough in addressing the shocking casualty figures in Wirral which I have highlighted previously. In response, the Green Party is supporting moves to set up a pedestrian’s forum for Wirral. You can aid this process by taking just a couple of minutes to complete this survey.

And finally a round-up of street-by-street developments:

  • The owners of the Argyle industrial estate have now agreed to remove vegetation blocking the adjacent alleyway behind Hinderton Road.
  • Following persistent complaints, we finally succeeded in having bulky waste (pictured) blocking the alleyway between Rodney Street and Clifton Road removed.
  • Residents in Convent Close and Rectory Close have been promised new street signs which should put an end to confusion for postal workers, taxi drivers and other visitors.
  • Offensive graffiti on Elmswood Road has now been removed.
  • Thanks to all those residents in the Bentinck Street area who completed our resident’s survey on October 25th. I have reported several instances of graffiti on Bentinck Street and the broken street light on Conway Drive.
  • I was impressed with the rapid response from the Council’s pest control unit in dealing with a rat infestation in Birkenhead. To report a problem call 606 2020.
  • I alerted the Council to the delay in restoring road markings along Derby Road. Thankfully this produced a prompt response and the markings have now been restored. This should put an end to the unnecessary congestion around St. Catherine’s Hospital.
  • On my request Streetscene carried out an inspection of the alleyway between Baytree Road and Rosedale Road. Fly-tipped rubbish has now been removed.