Without breaking any rules, Stinchcombe Speed Watch has been busy throughout the pandemic. Following our Committee meeting on 2nd July, here is our latest news.
Speed Monitoring on The Street
Community speed watch monitoring recently began on The Street. It is vital as a way of demonstrating our community’s commitment to tacking the speeding problem. Without that evidence we may not get approval to use a vehicle-activated sign at locations on The Street. Enforcement monitoring by the Police, although very welcome, is not a substitute for the involvement of residents.
Call for volunteers
We desperately need some more volunteers to assist Trudy and Cherry. Taits Hill Road veterans are currently helping out, but we can’t expect them to do that long term. Come on all you public-spirited residents of The Street! All it takes is a few minutes training and as little as one hour a month. The timing of the sessions is flexible – weekdays or weekends, daytime or evenings before dusk. Our new speed gun is much lighter than the old ones. And abuse from motorists has really not been a problem. In fact, we get the thumbs up more often than the finger.
Please contact our Co-ordinator Ava if you can help.
Speed Watch “Good Practice” Meeting 29th July
Together with District Cllr Catherine Braun, we’ve been instrumental in setting up this online meeting. Our County Councillor, District Councillors, high level Police and Highways representatives and people from other local parishes will be attending. We intend to use the meeting to help fine tune our imminent applications for 1) a vehicle-activated sign and 2) a speed limit review for the bottom end of Berkeley Road.
Automated Traffic Survey on Taits Hill Road (19th – 25th May)
This was funded privately by Committee members to support our application for a vehicle-activated sign. The data came in extremely handy for our detailed and critical comments on the proposed Taits Hill Road development. We want to raise £250 to do the same on The Street.
Our first AGM will be held at the Village Hall on Wednesday 29th September, starting at 7.30 pm. Save the date if you have an interest in road safety in Stinchcombe.
Many thanks to the 41 households that returned their forms – about a quarter of the households in the parish.
It is notoriously difficult to get a good response rate. Coinciding with a lockdown certainly doesn’t help! There are probably many reasons why people decide to opt out – it would be useful to learn more to improve future surveys.
How much support for traffic calming?
Three-quarters (75.6%) of responding households are in favour of funding traffic calming by an increase in their council tax.
We asked which street you live on for a good reason. Highways will assess traffic calming proposals on various criteria, including the community support in the immediate vicinity.
The percentage of households in favour on those streets with more than one or two responses was:
% in Favour
Taits Hill Rd & Taits Hill
Responses to the Village Survey
Traffic calming funded by other means is supported by an additional 10% of responding households. A further 10% say they would possibly support it. This suggests that very few in the Parish are actively against doing something about speeding.
How much are responding households prepared to pay for traffic calming?
You were asked what increase in your annual council tax you would accept for this purpose. We requested your council tax band so we could calculate the corresponding increase in the parish precept. The zero responses were taken into account as well as the non-zero ones.
The calculated increase in precept came out at just over £3,000. This figure represents an average of what responding households wanted, taking account their different council tax bands.
What has the Parish Council decided?
The Parish Council discussed the survey results at our meeting on 20 January. It was essential to decide on the parish precept for 2021/22 to meet the budget deadline. We voted unanimously for a increase of £2,000 for traffic calming purposes. This is well within the amount calculated from the survey responses.
There will be a second instalment in 2022/23 to provide the balance needed for a traffic calming project. The Speed Watch Group will do its best to minimise the balance by seeking other funding. We will also get on with the other activities needed to support the project. This will include resuming speed monitoring as soon as it is permitted.
What form will traffic calming take?
The Speed Watch Group continues to research the options, but a vehicle-activated sign (VAS) has emerged as the favourite.
The main reasons are:
significant and sustained speed reductions at moderate cost
can take action at more than one location
moving the VAS between locations avoids drivers becoming “desensitised”
education aspect – makes drivers more aware of their speed
choice of suppliers and plenty of operating experience
A detailed table comparing the options is available for anyone who is interested.
This aspect of the survey is not related to the Speed Watch Group, but for completeness here are the key findings.
58.5% of responding households are in favour of funding playground improvement via an increase in council tax
The calculated increase in precept for this purpose came out at just under £1,500.
The Parish Council decided that rather than increase the precept they would allocate £500 towards the development of proposals.
Other community projects suggested
The following suggestions were received:
reinstatement and maintenance of public footpaths (3 households suggested this)
contribution towards cost of a village magazine
contribution towards the maintenance of the churchyard
new noticeboard next to the bench near the bridleway up the Hill
electric vehicle charging point
The Annual Parish Meeting in May (date not yet decided) will be an opportunity to discuss these ideas. With any luck we will be able to meet in person by then.
And finally … privacy issues
All the responses have been put into a spreadsheet, which does not include any names, postal addresses or email addresses.
I have explained why we needed to know your street and council tax band. This information does not identify an individual property except in a very small number of cases. In such cases, it will be removed if the spreadsheet needs to be shared.
The unique reference number on each survey form has not been linked to your address. Its purpose was to ensure that no household submitted more than one response.
Where people submitted their form electronically we unavoidably have email addresses. The emails are stored in a dedicated, password protected account. Copies of the forms themselves will be kept temporarily, but the emails will shortly be deleted. Where people have put their response in the email instead of using the form, it will be copied to a new document. This document will not include their name or email address.
Paper and electronic copies of the completed forms will eventually be destroyed/deleted. They are being kept for the time being in case the Parish Council wishes to check the accuracy of the spreadsheet.
Yesterday a resident emailed me with some very sensible questions about Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS). I have, of course, replied directly to them. The questions and answers below may be of interest to some residents.
Would we need a VAS for each speeding hot spot?
No, the type under consideration can be moved from place to place. Slimbridge have one that they move between twenty locations. The number of locations in Stinchcombe would probably be less than this.
An advantage of varying the location is that drivers do not become so accustomed to the VAS that they no longer notice it.
How is the VAS powered?
Mains, battery and solar options are available. Rechargeable batteries might suit us best. They would need to be changed every 2 weeks.
Who would change the batteries and move the VAS?
Speed Watch Group volunteers working to risk-assessed procedures would carry out these tasks. Volunteers are also used in Slimbridge. They advise using 2-3 people because the batteries are quite heavy. The VAS and accessories can easily be transported in the back of a car.
What data would be logged?
The data logger records the time and speed of every vehicle that passes the VAS. It logs the vehicles in both directions, not only the way the sign is facing. It does a similar job to human speed watch teams, but 24/7 and in all weathers.
How would the data be used?
The data would be downloaded to a phone or laptop. They would be processed using software supplied by the VAS manufacturer.
Vehicle registrations are not recorded so the data would not lead directly to prosecutions.
As with data from human speed watch sessions, they would help the Police prioritise enforcement activities.
What is the point if VAS don’t identify speeders?
There is evidence that VAS speed reminders achieve reductions of between 2 mph and 6 mph in 85 percentile speed on 30 mph roads. The 85 percentile speed is the speed at or below which 85% of vehicles are travelling.
That might not sound like a big reduction but …
an average speed reduction of 1 mph reduces crash frequency by 5%
a pedestrian hit at 30mph has a one in five chance of being killed compared with a one in three chance at 35mph.
Is there a risk of the VAS being damaged or stolen?
Yes, there is a risk which we would try to minimise. Slimbridge lock their VAS to a post. The price of the post is included in the estimate. The VAS would also be insured. My research indicates that this would cost about £100 per year.
There is considerable experience with using this model in Stroud District. The Stroud District Road Safety Group owned two, which they loaned out to members. With the Group’s recent demise, they have been sold off to members.
A couple of months ago I had a chance conversation with Don, a parishioner, who lives, like me, on Taits Hill Road. We discussed the volume and speed of the traffic, both of which seemed to have increased in the past few years.
What to do?
I contacted the Parish Council and things took off from there. Kath Hudson has been extremely supportive and along with Trudy Chinn, Don, and myself we conducted traffic volume counts. There are approx 49,000 vehicles using Taits Hill Road each week. Staggering isn’t it?
The Next Step
The next step was to register us as a Community Speed Watch group, which I have now done. There is an online training test, after which the local police force contact you and practical training in the use of equipment takes place.
We are now looking for at least five other volunteers. Training is given which consists of
Health and safety, concerning both the public and volunteers.
There is emphasis on data protection.
The need to educate not enforce is paramount.
The data, which is speed recorded above the speed limit, is fed back to the police.
It all sounds quite intimidating, in reality it’s just common sense. It helped to give me a better understanding by watching YouTube videos of other speed watch groups in action, prior to the training.
So now we wait, governed by Corona virus and the availability of police officers to respond, I hope that will not be too long.
What we hope for
I was asked what we hoped to achieve. I suppose the answer has to be to save lives, educate, and hopefully create a calmer environment which is beneficial to all.
For me personally, I have always been active in the wider community, scouting, over many years, school governor, and at present league of friends at The Vale Hospital. I had also just started to help with art therapy for the stroke patients when the Corona virus stopped us in our tracks.
On 24th October there was a serious accident on Taits Hill Rd that put two people in hospital. Our sympathies go out to the victims and their families. The accident highlights road safety concerns in Stinchcombe. Here is an update on progress since the recent article in Enews.
Feedback from the Survey
Thank you to the people that complete the speeding survey. Especially to the dozen who asked to go on the mailing list.
All but one of you were worried about speeding on one or more roads. Everyone was in favour of having a new Speed Watch Group.
Many respondents made additional comments.
Most say speeding is prevalent with many motorists ignoring limits.
Long-term residents felt the problem had got worse over the years.
Some think drivers may simply be unaware of their speed.
Several residents of Taits Hill Rd feel
unsafe pulling out of their own drive,
cutting their hedge or grass verge or
crossing the road.
One worried about children walking to the bus stop.
Veterans of previous speed monitoring initiatives consider that support from the Police was inadequate. They are frustrated that all their hard work came to nothing … apart from a strip of red tarmac according to one.
Vehicle activated signs that display your speed,
’20 is Plenty’ signs
Traffic calming measures in the residential areas and
First Meeting of the Speed Watch Group
Everyone on the mailing list and the Parish Council were invited to a virtual meeting on 28th October. Eight people attended and had a productive session.
We will be registering a new group with Community Speed Watch very soon. There is already a volunteer to train as Co-ordinator. We are getting up to speed (pardon the pun) on several topics, including sources of funding and the Auto SpeedWatch system.
Not everyone gets Enews so the survey will be repeated in the Stinchcombe News. Sorry if you’ve already seen it, but we need to reach as many people as we can. Keeping this sort of group going relies on having enough active members.
About one minute is typically all we save if we break the speed limit on our trip to Dursley, Wotton or Berkeley. What are the negative consequences? Some Taits Hill Road residents say that speeding traffic is badly affecting their lives. And they feel that the problem is getting worse.
Facts on speed and its consequences
In 2018 over 7,000 people were injured and 186 were killed in Great Britain in crashes involving someone speeding
Two-thirds of all crashes in which people are killed or injured happen on roads with a speed limit of 30mph or less
Driving at only 5 mph above the 30 mph limit increases your stopping distance by 6.4 m or 21 ft even in good conditions
If average speeds reduce by only 1 mph, the accident rate falls by about 5%
Driving at 40 mph rather than 30 mph increases the risk of pedestrians suffering fatal injuries in a collision from 40% to 80%
A belief that our roads are too dangerous due to traffic speed and volume is the main barrier to more people cycling
Reducing speeds by 6 mph in built-up areas cuts noise by up to 40%
Lower speeds generally reduce air pollution.
Tackling Speeding in Stinchcombe
Our previous Community Speed Watch group fizzled out a few years ago. The Parish Council supports a new group if enough residents are actively involved.
There are various ways to get involved and you don’t necessarily need to stand at the roadside.
This is a longstanding problem that is not easy to solve, but we can work together to make a difference.