Page04 - Transport: Snow Joke, St Clement Danes

It’s Snow Joke
by Councillor Martin Trevett, Exec Member for the Environment, Three Rivers District Council.

The heavy snowfalls and icy Weather of earlier this year have set me wondering if there is any way that local councils could be better prepared for winter weather. 

Winter maintenance of our roads and pavements are the responsibility of Hertfordshire County Council as the highway authority. The Council has a fleet of over 60 gritter lorries to keep main roads, bus routes, routes to schools and so on clear of snow and ice. It also maintains a network of salt bins placed at sensitive sites around the district, particularity junctions and hills. 

However, the heavy snowfalls before and after Christmas left the gritters struggling to clear the roads and keep the salt bins full, despite the undoubted efforts of the crews. So maybe it is time to think about alternative ways of caiïying out this important work. 

When I was first elected to Three Rivers District Council, almost 30 years ago, winter maintenance work was carried out on Herts County Counci1’s behalf by the District Council. The District Council had two or three gritter lorries and a stockpile of grit and salt at the depot in Rickmanswoxîh, which meant that the maintenance work could be carried out based on local knowledge of the roads and the places that needed most attention. It was easy for local councillors and residents to let the Council know of a particular problem - for example, an empty salt bin, or slippery pavements outside shops or near old peop1e’s bungalows. However, some years ago it was decided that all highways work, including Winter maintenance, should revert back to the County. 

The main reason was cost - having ten districts across Hertfordshire doing the work was more expensive than a centralized operation. But, of course, the local knowledge and flexibility was lost, so perhaps it is time to review this situation. 

Some have suggested that more of the responsibility be passed to residents and businesses. In Germany, for instance, households and shopkeepers are required by law to clear the section of pavement outside their premises. In the UK such a move would require government approval, and a number of issues would need to be resolved - what about the homes of the elderly and infirm? Who would be liable for any claims if someone slipped on a privately cleared area? Thankfully, heavy snowfalls and icy conditions are rare in this part of the countiy. But given that we have now experienced two periods of relatively heavy snow in two successive winters, it might be time to consider how we might improve our response to severe winter weather. 

St Clement Danes School 
Hertfordshire County Council has decided to implement new parking controls along Chenies Road to prevent dangerous parking outside the schoo1at drop off and pick up times. They have also decided to make the service road at the top of North Hill one Way to facilitate school bus movements. At long last the County Council as agreed toprovide a pedestrian refuge to help with safer crossing of Chenies Road. The scheme together with extra signage and lining will cost around .£57,000 for which funding is now being sought. Discussions continue about improving safety at the schoo1’s rear entrance in Green Street.

Shire Lane Vehicle Activated signs 
Funding has now been finalised for the Shire Lane vehicle activated signs. Discussions about the exact location of the signs will shortly take place and the signs are due to be installed in the next couple of months. 

The Swillett 20mph zone 
The scheme has been expanded following the feasibility study to possibly include Stag Lane; the next stage is detailed design work, which will be followed by a full public consultation.

Blacketts Wood Drive petition 
A petition was passed to Herts County Council to install trafñc-calming measures along Blacketts Wood Drive particularly in the vicinity of the Russell Schoo1’s rear entrance. But Herts County Council has recently moved the goal posts and have decreed that in order for a road to be considered for speed reduction measures there must have been three injury accidents of which one must have been speed related. Your Residents' Association is deeply disappointed by this news especially as being outside a primary school, one of these “accidents needed” could so easily be fatal. 

Pensioners’ Bus Passes
It has been brought to your Residents Associations’ attention that a number of pensioners from Chorleywood are being told by some of the drivers that they can’t use their passes on the 336 bus from Chorleywood to Watford before 9.00am. This is completely wrong. They can used at anytime so long as they are in Hertfordshire. If any of the divers tell you this please report the details of the driver, time and date of the incident to TRDC.