Around 125 local residents and business proprietors attended the July meeting of Hawes & High Abbotside Parish Council to make their feelings known about the draft proposals to introduce two way traffic lights in the Holme and the Market place, leaving the Cobbles as a pedestrian only precinct.
Present to discuss them were Richard Marr, NYCC Richmondshire highways area office manager and county councillor Don MacKenzie, executive member for highways.
The chairman of the parish council, Cllr John Blackie, drew applause when he said that the draft proposals were unwelcome, unnecessary and unworkable. He added what we have now works, and there is no record of any accidents or pedestrian injuries in The Cobbles since pavements were constructed there some 15 years ago.
Members of the audience made a series of compelling points against the draft proposals, the loss of over 20 town centre parking places in The Holme, and with further losses in the Market Place, traffic backing up whilst waiting for the lights to change causing exhaust fumes in the main shopping centre, the detrimental impact on the shops in The Cobbles as often passers-by driving through the town having seen what is on offer decide to stop and look around, that the Cobbles were an iconic feature of Hawes and to lose the flow of traffic along them would change the character of the town, the difficulty of staging the street market on Tuesdays, and so on.
In reply CC Don MacKenzie apologised for the complete lack of consultation with the local community, this caused by the compressed timetable for bidding for the funds, specified by the Government, and agreed with Cllr Blackie, after he reported his conversation with the director of highways, David Bowe who had said if the community did not want the scheme, it would not be implemented. Both Don and Richard Marr said it was clear by the size of the audience, 40 of whom stood outside the door as the room was packed, and what was being said, that the proposals had been rejected by the community and they would not be taken forward.
Two days after the parish council meeting, Cllr Blackie asked CC MacKenzie at the County Council meeting to confirm the draft proposals were “dead in the water” and his reply was a very clear “yes”. He also agreed that communications from the senior management at Highways needed to be improved and he was on the job.
Other highways matters: The proposals to install traffic lights on Appersett Bridge were also rejected by the Parish Council as completely unnecessary, and the suggestion was made that some of the funding not being spent on this scheme and the 2 way proposals could be used to provide a footway for pedestrians on the popular walk between Hawes and Appersett.
Richard Marr reported that Cllr Blackie’s concerns about unannounced road works on a Sunday by Yorkshire Water near the school which caused traffic chaos had led to the arrangement of a high level meeting between a senior director of YW and David Bowe in early August. Richard agreed the performance of traffic management companies who charge “eye-wateringly high fees” for setting up temporary traffic lights signing road diversions left a lot to be desired and his team would double up on taking them to task.
He explained that the statutory undertakers, mainly Yorkshire Water, Northern Powergrid, BT Openreach, were deliberately avoiding the process of obtaining permission for road works and closures by starting them without notice at weekends, and again this flexibility, intended to be used only in an emergency, was going to be tightened up in future. In closing he added he would take forward the request from the parish council to have a 40mph buffer speed limit coming in to Hawes along the A 684 from Bainbridge.
Part Night Lighting: The parish council unanimously agreed to continue to reject the proposals to turn off the street lights between 12 midnight and 5am. Richmondshire District Council would be informed accordingly.
Gayle Mill: Graham Bell of the North of England Civic Trust (NECT) again refused to attend a parish council meeting to explain what was happening at Gayle Mill. Tony Routh of the Gayle Mill Trust which was evicted from the Mill at Easter told the meeting there had been no work done on the building since then and nobody was visiting to check on its deteriorating condition. Cllr Blackie said Graham Bell was treating the parish council and the local community with contempt, and proposed that any further communication to or from the NECT would be suspended. Parish councillors agreed unanimously.
Yorkshire Air Ambulance: Cllr Yvonne Peacock, a member of the YDNPA, was aghast to hear that a request from Yorkshire Air Ambulance to site a clothing recycling bank in the Dales Countryside Museum Car Park had been refused, and she agreed to work with Cllr Blackie to reverse the decision. Parish councillors were surprised and said there should never had been any question of not granting the request from the YAA given the number of lives their helicopters had saved here in the Upper Dales. Two days after the parish council meeting the decision to refuse the request was reversed and a clothing bank would soon be installed in the car Ppark.
Hawes Community Fields: The chairman reported on a recent meeting to discuss the formation of a working committee liaising with the local charity that owns them (UWSRA Ltd) and Hawes United Football Club, to take forward proposals for a Community Pavilion on The Community Fields. Helen Pollard from Stage One Cycles / Wensleydale Bike Club presented their draft proposals to the Parish Council to seek planning permission / finance via grants / construct / maintain / manage a bike Pump Track on the Community Fields. A number of questions were raised so the parish council awaits the planning application and details of the Wensleydale Bike Club, reported to be a registered charity, who would take forward the project.
Planning: There were five planning applications, all were either supported or strongly supported. The approval of the planning application of a barn conversion facing the Burtersett Road for Stacey Moore and Steve Calvert was celebrated by all present, as it sent out such a positive message for retaining young families in the Upper Dales. Cllr Blackie was thanked by councillors for his involvement in promoting their planning application and also for his help with the lattice mobile masts applications at Crowtrees near Muker and on Birkdale Common, both of which have been approved.
Public toilets in the Penny Garth: Complaints about the poor state of cleanliness of these toilets and the coin mechanisms continually being found inoperable are being regularly received at the Community Office. Cllr Peacock said she would look into them. Carrion crow proof litter bins are to be supplied in the Cattle Market, as the villains are partial to leftover fish and chips from The Chippie nearby, making the town look a mess in the morning.
Happy Birthday: Richard Noble, our Hawes-in-Bloom volunteer extraordinaire, as the chairman put it, drew a very loud round of applause for his work in making the town look so very attractive with its floral displays and for reaching his 70th Birthday. He often is first out in Hawes now we no longer have a RDC street caretaker based in the town and collects up the mess left by the crows.
AOB: There has been no summons issued for cost recovery by Stuart McCloughlin against the parish council for works on his land by Haylands Bridge. Claire, Cerys and Nia Moore were thanked for making a marvellous job of painting the red telephone box in Simonstone. Voluntary help was requested to paint the boxes in Sedbusk and Lunds, all materials supplied – please contact the chairman. Mrs Belton from Laburnham House complained that the second-hand book tables made the town look unattractive to visitors. However the chairman pointed out that the book tables near his business had collected over £3,000 for Cancer Relief in the last three years, and the community office also had books to purchase, which add up to a tidy sum towards keeping going the various services offered there. Parish councillors strongly agreed with him, rather than with Mrs Belton.