Monday, 7 June 2010

Launceston road safety work - Cost £100,000, Budget £8,000

In the past I've praised the work done by the Launceston Road Safety Partnership to help plan works that will make our town a better and safer place to live.

Today I had a meeting with a Council officer to see what can be done to make the necessary works happen. The answer, sadly, is that it is unlikely that many of the much needed works will be happening for some time.

Each Cornwall Councillor has a budget of £8,000 for highways improvements. This might sound like a lot, but the costs of each bit of work are horrendously high. For instance, a single traffic regulation order, to remove the parking spaces outside the old Newport Post Office for example, costs at least £3600. Whilst the same TRO can be used for more than one bit of work, it is still a lot of money when the actual works cost is just a couple of hundred pounds. I have asked officers to explain why these cost so much and how many different individuals are involved.

At the other end of the scale, the addition of a pedestrian phase at the Newport traffic lights has been estimated at £40,000 or more and a completely new crossing on Western Road (one of the top priorities of local people according to the LRSP survey) is more than £60,000.

There's no chance at all that my individual pot will ever pay for such works.

I asked whether there was a centralised amount of money that we could bid against - but have been told by the Interim Head of Finance that there is no such money.

I appreciate the work of the officers concerned who have all been very helpful, but it seems ridiculous that there are urgent works that are needed to allow people from the Ridgegrove, Chapel and Priory areas of town to get to the town centre without driving which are not going to happen.

As a result, I have asked Graeme Hicks, the Cabinet Member for Highways, to come to Launceston to see for himself why these works need to be done as soon as possible.

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