According to those responsible for traffic and road safety in the council there will be a report to the important Cabinet Highways Committee on 8th September. The subject of the report is to be feedback from Community Assemblies on consultations held on the proposed new 20 mph speed limit. When has this been discussed at the South West Community Assembly?
When the new Ecclesall Library opened several years ago I remember asking a question at a presentation in a South West Area Panel meeting. I pointed out that the library was very close indeed to the main road whereas the previous one was well set back, in an ideal position well within Weetwood Gardens. That building, we all recall, was scandalously sold off by the Council to become a pub and later demolished. So when the new library was built as part of a deal with the developer who built the flats, I noticed that steps from the library came down onto the footpath very close to fast moving traffic on the busy main road. My question was "Will there be railings installed to guard against children spilling onto the road". I was told that would be taken care of, thouigh I can't remember the name of the person who gave me the assurance. It would only need a short length of rail, but as you see there has been none provided during all the years since.
With that in mind I had a look at the new pedestrian crossing on Ringinglow Road at Bents Green. I can honestly say that I've never seen anything remotely like it. There must have been enough rail installed here to keep the manufacturer of such railings in profit for several years. Take a look any time you're passing that way. Here on a somewhat less busy stretch of road than that beside the library we have something about as disproportionate as you can possibly wish for.
Yet, and here's the truly remarkable thing, this latest railing was erected at a time when the council's website was highlighting a campaign against unnecessary street furniture and signage including superfluous railings!!
It seemed a great advance for us to know just how long we would be waiting for our bus. The display screens at certain bus stops told us just when the next bus was due, should it be an 88, 82 or any other. Now that has stopped, anyway at the Leopold Street stop in the city centre. I've not found out yet why or if it's the case at all such stops. It's a case of something we were just beginning to rely on. If you would prefer to catch an 88 say rather than an 82 because it goes much closer to your home and you know the 88 will be just a couple of minutes more then it's well worth waiting and letting the first bus go. Is this the result of vanadalism or what?
For several years there's been a sign on Hathersage Road telling drivers just what speed they are travelling at. At least it's supposed to. It worked for a few months then all information dried up and the screen went blank. Apparently the light cells were stolen and no effort has been made to replace them.
Hats should be raised for Ted Gunby and the campaigners at Carterknowle and Millhouses, whose fight to stop further expansion of these huge supermarkets, has won another victory. This time the battle was not simply with the local planning system but nationally with the planning inspector. read about it in the Telegraph.
The work local people have had to put into this reminds us that fighting giant companies with enormous resources needs heroic efforts and lots of research. And the next battle after defeating Sainsburys is with Tesco!
The Labour administration remains committed, so the Cabinet member Leigh Bramall says, to bringing down the speed limit on most of the city's roads to 20 mph. Part of the justification for this is the need to encourage less car use and more children walking to school. For this reason they are said to be prioritising the areas around schools. There's no doubt that school run traffic accounts for a considerable percentage of the congestion at critical times of day. There's plenty of evidence available for this at the moment when people using the roads at summer holiday time have a much easier run. But some of those who have campaigned for a more widespread 20 mph limit, including the group 20s Plenty for Sheffield, are concerned that the partial implementation of the change will be nowhere near adequate and this project may stall at this point.
More local, or more centralised? The Community Assemblies were begun under the LibDem administration. In opposition Labour were not keen on them. The rumour was that it went counter to their liking for ‘favoured areas’ whereby more money was diverted to the poorer areas of the city which just happened to return Labour candidates; devolved budgets for each of the seven Community Assembly areas were equal. There was also a perception that Labour had more of a centralising tendency. The new administration may have had to accept that things have now moved on. After all the move towards more community based decision making started (or at least gained momentum) when Labour’s Hazel Blears was Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and produced policies leading towards a Sustainable Communities Act. This was in some way a trigger for the Community Assemblies in Sheffield. Few people could deny that the first years of this attempt to bring real power to communities have brought moments of chaos. But then it’s always easier to run an organisation in a top-down way, especially if the layers of officialdom between people and the decision makers help to fend off awkward questions. Early signs don’t tell us much but some are already beginning to say that more of the money is likely to be kept centrally and that some of the justification for that will be laid at the door of Westminster, despite the government’s localism agenda.