Home Page Whatever the anomalies, it's time to make pedestrianisation happen 17/09/11

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Matthew Hancock
Your Local MP

Hart of the Matter

As the potential ramifications of Suffolk County Councilís latest ideas for traffic management in Haverhill town centre begin to unfold, I expect there will be all sorts of anomalies floating to the surface.


The first one that springs to mind is how pointless the beautiful new barrier at the High Street end of Queen Street would become. If and when both Swan Lane and Camps Road become two-way cul-de-sacs when the street is closed, the whole point will be to have no barrier, and there will be no traffic to keep out.


What will really be needed is another set of two gates like the ones we have Ė a big one to go at the top end of High Street, and another little one, so that those two could be placed at the head of Swan Lane and Camps Road. At least, having made one set, there would be no design costs.


And then there is the whole problem of Crowland Road. Only the other week, one resident from there told at a public meeting how he had seen the delays which can be caused to the ambulance attempting to travel from its base in Camps Road to the north side of the town.


If Crowland Road becomes one-way uphill, the ambulance will presumably be forced to go via Clements Lane and Duddery Hill, which, it is claimed, adds a few minutes to its response time.


Surely, in this technological age, it should be possible to have a set of gates or barriers at the end of Camps Road and Swan Lane which the ambulance alone can operate remotely, in the manner of a train approaching a level crossing.


The most efficient way to solve Haverhillís traffic problem is to use the circuit from Cangle junction via Lordscroft Lane, Ehringshausen Way, Hamlet Road, Duddery Hill, Clements Lane and Crowland Road as an inner ring road, and to regulate such things as parking with that in mind.


If people in Hamlet Road, Duddery Hill, Crowland Road or anywhere else along that circuit are deprived of important on-road parking, then specific areas nearby should be provided for them. Crossings for pedestrians should also be provided at intervals, and traffic lights, if required, integrated to prevent long hold-ups.


If the bottom of Crowland Road then becomes the only roadblock to completing a priority ring road, it would then be necessary to re-engineer it, even at the expense of residential properties, because the future of the town depends on it.


After all, it happened with the old White Hart - to many peopleís regret but can you imagine the traffic problems now if that had not been done? We have to think at least up to 50 years into the future.


For the ring road to be effective, it cannot have one section which is one-way, because some journeys would be made unacceptably circuitous.


Parking would have to be treated with a very heavy hand. For instance, the loading and unloading and general hanging about which happens between the bottom of Duddery Hill and the top of Mount Road would have to be forbidden by enforcement.


It isnít good enough to say that a particular solution cannot proceed for engineering reasons, or because someone needs a particular access. These are relatively minor considerations in the overall scheme, and need to be resolved not by compromise but by alternative solutions.


If someone needs rear access it must be provided from another direction, or else access will have to be at a different time of day.


So often the right solution has not been put in place for financial reasons, creating even more expensive problems for the future. The prime example is Tesco, where the road should have run around the rear of the store.


Although the eventual design works very well for traffic movement, it is a disaster as far as integrating the store with the town centre. People just donít cross the road. You can tell that by the way that there has been no sign of businesses springing up along the route.


The store access from Queen Street should have been directly via a rebuilt Queenís Square. The councilís little street improvements virtually say as much. To a stranger, it looks as if that is the way to the store, not the little lane beside USA Chicken.


If extra cost has not thwarted the right solution, it has been a minority interest that has done the job. Back in the 1980s the chance of having a major shopping centre behind the south side of High Street was lost because of the apparent importance of retaining a javelin throw at the sports centre (Iím not making this up). How many people throw javelins?


As the town mayor has written this week, the overwhelming majority of Haverhill people want High Street and Queen Street properly pedestrianised and closed off during the day, so councillors need to take a quote from Captain Jean-Luc Picard: "Make it so."

David Hart
David Hart revives his personal take on the week in Haverhill, covering everything from major town developments to what we do with our rubbish.
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