Residents' safety objections to road restrictions around the Wrekin
Residents have hit out at experimental new traffic restrictions around a nearby Shropshire beauty spot, with accusations of a "knee-jerk" reaction to parking issues.
Telford & Wrekin Council introduced an experimental traffic order in August, using double yellow lines to ban parking on large parts of roads around the Wrekin hill including Ercall Lane, Wrekin Course and Forest Glen.
It was in response to an influx of people going out to walk or cycle around the hill as coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased this summer, putting a strain on the roads in the area.
The new order follows the introduction of a one-way system earlier in the year.
The double yellow lines around the Wrekin will also be accompanied by new cycle lanes and places to park cycles.
Paul Goodman, who lives in nearby Little Wenlock and has decades of experience in road designing, said the changes this year have only created new problems including forcing large vehicles travelling to the motorway to navigate the narrow bottom section of Ercall Lane into Wellington.
He said the changes were "a poorly designed system that was done as a knee-jerk reaction to a situation".
"There are three fundamental failings with the design of the system. Firstly, all traffic travelling via Little Wenlock towards the M54, Shrewsbury or Wellington, now has to travel past the Buckatree Hotel [in Ercall Lane].
"Further along this route the lower section of Ercall Lane, between the motorway bridge and Holyhead Road [in Wellington], the road is two-way, narrower than most of the roads around the Wrekin – then, for the first 200m after the bridge, has no footpath as well as two tight, blind bends and is also residential, with drive exits every 10m or so.
"It is too tight and too dangerous.
"Secondly, the reduced width carriageway between the turning for the Wrekin Course and the junction at Forest Glen is too narrow.
"When cars are parking on the left, within the pull-in area, their driver's side is on the highway verge line, especially if they leave room for a passenger to exit the car on the other side.
"This means that they have to open their doors well into the path of oncoming vehicles, who, in turn, have no way to avoid this with the installation of the separation bollards.
"Third, making these roads one-way is counter productive to safety, as, on narrow winding roads, the likelihood of meeting oncoming traffic is a major limiting factor to speed for most drivers.
"Now being one way, that risk has been removed and, as such, average speed will increase over time as confidence and familiarity grows, regardless of the imposed speed limit, as there will be no one to enforce it."
'It is about overall safety'
He said that he has also spoken to his regular postman and bin men who are not happy with the changes.
"This is not about journey time or cyclists or Nimbyism, it is about a poorly designed road that does not meet design guidance and, more importantly, it is about overall safety for all users as well as access and convenience for vehicles from the farming community, post office, refuse collection and emergency services.
"Now we have double yellow lines that stop the on road parking – great, but we don't have any alternative parking, the money was spent on a pointless one way road scheme instead.
"We have lowered speed limits – great, but these revert back to 60mph from the bottom of Willowmore Bank to Little Wenlock, meaning no change in the speed cars approach the village, so no change in the lack of slowing down when going through the village."
A senior Telford & Wrekin Council cabinet member said the authority welcomed feedback on the "complex issue" of managing the roads around the Wrekin.
Cllr Lee Carter, cabinet member for neighbourhood, commercial services and regeneration, said: “Since the easing of lockdown restrictions we have seen visitor numbers and subsequent inconsiderate parking increase significantly creating very serious safety issues which reached a critical point in May attracting local and regional media attention.
"Emergency measures were implemented at that point and have subsequently been modified to reinforce the temporary measures whilst we go through a period of consultation to allow us to understand the communities' thoughts on the changes which will help shape the long term plans around the Wrekin.
"The issues are also compounded by restricted car parking capacity which the council is unable to resolve as it owns no land around the Wrekin. A third party planning application to increase parking capacity was passed in 2012 despite significant objections from local stakeholders but this has never been delivered.
"We encourage as many people as possible to comment on the measures through our online feedback form (telford.gov.uk/thewrekin) and we continue to engage with others including the relevant local parish council and local landowners as we work through resolving this complex issue.”