Thursday, 30 July 2015

Updated: Asked West Berks Highways to investigate safety of Theale Bypass/Waterside Drive/Hoad Way roundabout

A lady who runs a business in Theale complained to me about the safety of the Theale Bypass/Waterside Drive/Hoad Way roundabout. She told me that she has two or three near misses a week when turning right into Hoad Way. She told me that vehicles approaching the roundabout from the west often fail to give way to vehicles already on the roundabout.

I have been concerned about safety on this roundabout for some time. There is a dip in the roundabout that, when combined with the up-slope on the western approach to the roundabout, obscures vehicles on the roundabout. Visibility is made much worse when the grass on the central reservation grows long. I have asked for this grass to be cut on several reasons for this reason.

I have therefore asked the Council's Highways Service to investigate to see if a safety audit is required.

Update from West Berks Council Highways Officer:

I have looked at the accident record for the above roundabout.  Considering the amount of traffic it fares well in comparison to similar roundabouts.  Over the most recent three years there have been six  injury accidents at this roundabout with five resulting in slight injuries and one serious.  The breakdown of accidents at this roundabout are as follows:

·         Three occurred on the Hoad Way approach to the roundabout all of these were rear end shunts caused by human factors.
·         One occurred on the A4 (M4 approach) again a rear end shunt with human factors being the cause.
·         Two occurred on the roundabout one bicycle (no information on causation) and another involving a motorcycle which resulted in serious injuries, this was caused by an elderly driver was taken ill at the wheel.

No accidents were recorded involving a right turn manoeuvre into Hoad Way so would indicate drivers are coping well with this at the moment.  As a comparison I have looked at the A4/A340 roundabout.  In the same period there have been 14 injury accidents on this roundabout (4 serious and 10 slight).  I have attached a screen shot showing the location of the accidents for both roundabouts.

We will continue to monitor this but at this time we do not have any concerns over this roundabout.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Speech I made to West Berks Council calling for meetings to be webcast

I believe that it is true to say that all councils could do more to engage with their residents. Residents are usually not aware of decisions being taken by the council on their behalf unless alerted by the local press, campaign groups or local members. They usually get to know even less about the reasons why particular decisions are taken. Web-casting meetings is one way to start addressing this, though much else needs to be done. Many councils have introduced web-casting, including:
  • Hampshire County
  • South Oxfordshire District
  • Waverley District
  • Woking Borough
  • Guildford Borough
  • Plymouth City
  • West Sussex
  • Cornwall Council
I also understand that the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority is considering its introduction.

I am not saying that everything we discuss will be lapped up by our residents! However, very many will be interested in decisions like that on the Housing Site Allocations DPD to be taken in the autumn. Probably many more that be accommodated in this small chamber. Many people potentially affected by tonight's decision on the CPO would probably have liked to be able to follow the discussion.

Residents are often very interested in planning applications that affect them or their community. Our district is large and some residents have to travel long distances to attend planning committee meetings. For example, those who live in places like Hungerford, Lambourn or Thatcham.

Some of the journeys to meetings cannot be made easily by public transport. Work and childcare commitments often make physical attendance at meetings difficult for residents. However, they could easily watch webcasts from their homes or workplaces.

I am therefore proposing that we investigate the introduction of web-casting all Council, Executive and committee meetings as a first step to improving our communications with our residents.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Question I will be asking the Chief Constable of Thames Valley this evening

I will asking the Chief Constable the following question at his briefing to West Berkshire Council this evening:

It has taken many months to replace the leading officer in the neighbourhood team that covers Theale after she was moved to CID. I understand that her replacement is to be part-time. Our PCSOs are now doing work that used to be performed by police officers. They are also having to cover a much wider area. Over the same period, Theale has experienced a spate of house and outbuilding break-ins, and thefts of motor vehicles. There has also been major outbreaks of vandalism to the primary school, playground and skatepark.

Could the Chief constable please tell me what he is planning to do to address problems like these in areas like Theale?