Minutes of the HDCF AGM 4th October 2016

Attendees: Philip Ayerst, Geoff Bragg, Thea Bredie, Ruth Fletcher (Chair), Claire Freor-Humphreys, Steve Gledhill, Stella Sharp, Peter Silburn (Secretary), Graham Sitton (Forest NC/Blueprint), Peggy Streamer, Peter Streamer, Dick Streeter, Mark Treasure

Apologies: Richard Bates, John Chaplin, Frances Haigh, Matt Steel, Francis Vernon

Agenda

Approval of previous minutes

Approved unamended.

Horsham Football Club

Ruth, Philip, Mark, Francis and Geoff met with Andrew Munton and Steve O’Halloran from Reside, the potential developer for the Hop Oast Football Club site which would be funded by a housing development at the old Holbrook Club playing field.

More information at http://www.home4horshamfc.co.uk/.

We discussed the key issues for cycling, many of which could be addressed by the developer, but there is no pressure from HDC or WSCC for them to do so.

Philip to produce a written response.

Philip

Updates from external meetings

Denne Neighbourhood Council

Ruth, Peter, Mark and Geoff met with Denne Neighbourhood Council. It was a useful opportunity to explain the forum’s aims of making cycling a safe, convenient and attractive opportunity for people of all ages and abilities and the need for improvements to road designs to achieve this. We discussed some of the key opportunities for cycle network improvements in the Denne neighbourhood and how better design helps avoid problems such as pavement cycling.

Minutes from the meeting will be available here.

West Sussex Cycle Summit

A very successful cycle summit took place on the 30th September in Chichester. The event was attended by Louise Goldsmith (Leader of the Council), John O’Brien (Cabinet member for Highways and Transport), Matt Davey (Head of Highways), Iain Reeve (Coast to Capital LEP), Alex Sharkey (WSCC), Chris Lyons (HDC Director of Planning) and many others.

Philip Ayerst extended a vote of thanks to Ruth and Peter for their efforts in organising the event.

A full report will follow shortly. The speakers’ presentation from both days can be viewed on the Summit website. Material to also be made available via the HDCF website.

Peter

This Cycle Summit on Friday followed on the Saturday by the Infrastructure Design Workshop organised by Sarah Sharp/Chicycle and attended by several Horsham forum members as well as cycle campaigners from across West Sussex and beyond.

Future meetings

Graham Sitton suggested that the forum could also present to a Forest NC meeting (possibly to discuss Comptons Lane crossings). Peter to follow up.

Peter

Report on Cycling and Road Safety meeting

Philip attended that the latest meeting and reported that the group seems to welcome a cycling presence at the meeting, because otherwise the cycling fraternity is not really represented directly. Between Thea and Philip they will try to attend regularly.

Greg Charman reported that there is to be a Partnership Support Officer appointed. HDCF may want to make sure we are considered a partner. To be followed up.

There were some very interesting health stats just published which shows KSIs on roads in Horsham at 65.4 per 100,000, compared with 54.4 for West Sussex and 39.3 in England. This is worryingly high.

Apparently there was a cycle accident in Hills Farm Road in the previous week but there were no further details.

Greenway in Horsham is known to be a poor surface and there was an accident there this week as a result of the surface – not a cyclist. For information, Greenway is due to be resurfaced, but not until middle of next year because it is not a key road.

Greg Charman said that Thea and Ruth had been in contact with Greg and Melanie regarding CIL.

Dean Wadey was due to contact HDCF to network and start cycling discussions. To be followed up. The next meeting is on 1st December.

Ruth said that Jon Forster, head of Road Safety at WSCC is currently analyzing cycle collisions and has agreed to give the WSCF forum an opportunity to comment before the report is finalized (probably around the end of this year).

20mph speed limits

The forum has been asked for its opinion on 20mph speed limits. We support such measures in residential areas and side roads but this is not something we would want to take a lead on.

WSCC and Sussex police tend to oppose 20mph limits and zones on the grounds that they are too expensive to enforce and that, without enforcement, speeds only drop by a small amount. However, for speeds below 40mph, even a small drop in speed has a large effect in reducing the frequency and severity of injuries to pedestrians and cyclists. At 40mph 95% of pedestrians hit by a car die, at 30mph this drops to 50% and at 20mph it is only 5%.

It is important that lower speed limits and zones are recognised as just one part of the solution and not as an alternative to better road design. All new residential streets should be 20mph zones by design but should also cater for cycling (e.g. not by using parked cars as speed restrictions) and main roads should incorporate cycle tracks in line with current best practice.

WSCC has carried out a trial road space audit in Chichester and is reviewing whether to roll this out across the county. There is potential for WSCC to use this to provide space for cycling.

Claire commented that she was nearly hit by an overtaking lorry. There was a discussion about the unhelpful nearby Think! road safety poster (‘Hang back’) which pushes responsibility onto cyclists in this situation when the danger was caused by a lorry overtaking unsafely.

Philip

Kilnwood Vale bridleway improvement

The 150m section needs improving by cutting back undergrowth and improving the surfacing. Peter has spoken to Tricia Butcher (WSLAF) and Sue Philipson (Local Access Ranger). Crawley Borough Council have been maintaining the northern section but have been stopping at the houses.

Ideally this section should be added to the Right of Way Improvement Plan, otherwise a working party can be organised to clear the undergrowth and improve the surface. Peter to follow up.

The change to the CIL arrangements for Kilnwood Vale (removing CIL) may offer an opportunity for WSCC/HDC to ensure that the necessary work is covered by one of the renegotiated s106 agreements. Thea to write to the new HDC CIL contact.

Peter/Thea

North of Horsham

Philip has submitted 12-page response. Key issues are severance, lack of crossings other than on main roads and lack of cycle routes within the development, cycle parking which is as convenient as car parking. The outline planning application does not contain enough detail to guarantee the necessary cycle infrastructure is delivered.

Mark will write an additional comment of objection on behalf of the forum referencing the poor quality of the proposed crossings and the forthcoming IAN to DRMB.

Mark

All forum members are encouraged to add their comments on the HDC planning portal.

All

Dick Streeter commented about the importance of the A264 crossings which are the “escape routes” from Horsham.

WSCC RATE route selection

We need to respond by 10th October with 2/3 priority routes for the first phase of the bid process.

The shortlist is:

Horsham to Crawley (including links to Faygate)

Phase 1: Fixing the Missing Link to complete the existing high-level route (NCN228) along Wimlands Lane.

Phase 2: A new direct segregated route alongside the A264/railway line.

Downs Link

Bringing the Downs Link up to standard as a strategic flagship utility and leisure route, including links from Horsham to Southwater/Christs Hospital and Broadbridge Heath.

Urban cycling

Providing high quality direct links within Horsham town. This is covered by our briefing document Joined-up cycling.

Specific routes include Guildford Road, North Parade, Rusper Road.

Ruth to compile the response.

Ruth

Updates to CIL list of infrastructure schemes

Julia Dawe has now left HDC. Thea to follow up with her replacement contact.

Thea

Blueprint

Graham requested forum members to respond to the Blueprint questionnaire. See http://www.horshamblueprint.org/.

All

Planning applications

Philip continues to respond. We may need a better way of storing and accessing our responses that is both easy to use and to maintain.

Philip/Steering group

Chair’s report

Forum Chair Ruth Fletcher gives her summary of the year’s activities: It’s now one year on from the forum’s first formal AGM and now is a good time to review why we are here, what has happened over the last year and where we are going next.

Many of us are motorists or public transport users and we are all pedestrians but it is cycling which causes us to come together because, as things stand, it is simply not safe, convenient or attractive enough for the vast majority of people in Horsham District to choose to cycle or to allow their children to cycle on our roads.

The number of supporters on our list has grown steadily to over 240. Most are from in and around Horsham, but we have some ‘distance’ supporters too. There is also a small but noticeable number of non-internet users who we currently only manage to keep in touch with via casual conversation as we meet in the town or, in one case, by post.

The main development over this year has been that the forum has developed better links with external organisations. We now receive a weekly list of planning applications from the council and are regularly putting in comments on proposed new developments. We have met with and had representatives attend our meetings from a number of parish councils, neighbourhood councils and Blueprint. We attend the quarterly North Horsham CLC meetings and have raised a number of issues which the CLC has taken up at county level.

We have been very involved at County level via the West Sussex Cycle Forum: meeting with Roger Geffen from Cycling UK, contributing to the Task & Finish Group and development of the WSCC cycling strategy, the county’s new Road Safety strategy and the recent West Sussex Cycle Summit. With WSCF, we have continued to press for better cycle design in major projects funded by LEP money. As part of WSCF, we are working with other cycle forums to prioritise potential new cycle routes for feasibility studies and in the further development of the strategy.
We have taken part in discussion with other organisations including the Town Vision stakeholders’ meeting, Two National Parks LSTF conference, Horsham Town Community Partnership and the Riverside Walk project. The profile of cycling at both district and county level is much higher than a year ago. We have had some good coverage in the West Sussex County Times.

We are pleased that we are now starting to be contacted by some developers; this gives us the opportunity to comment on their plans prior to them putting in planning applications. However, the main problem continues to that current local policies do not require a high enough standard of provision from developers and neither district nor county are prioritising cycling in their dealings with developers.

The forum recently got strong support from the local medical community with 26 medics signing an open letter calling for investment in safer cycling infrastructure to improve health.

Of course the main reason we exist is not to have meetings but to get changes on the ground with safer and more convenient cycling infrastructure for everyday cycling by people of all ages and abilities in Horsham District. This has continued to be a frustrating task with very few positive results.

We have had some minor successes such as the removal of an illegal No cycling sign and some improvements to cycle parking. Other changes are under way – for example Chesworth Farm is planning to add cycle parking and we have been promised dropped kerbs for the Dutchell’s Copse shared-use path. The “Missing Link” underpass is now a part of Liberty’s proposal for North of Horsham (although the proposal does not yet go far enough, both literally and metaphorically).

More positively, along with WSCF, we have had some impact getting changes in policy and priorities at County Hall: WSCC incorporated some changes into the draft Road Safety and Walking and Cycling strategies before they were adopted and it has been prompted to carry out a more detailed study of cycle collisions.

However, there is still a very long way to go. North of Horsham continues to be a huge concern as the current plans lack any serious consideration of cycling. We continue to press for proper cycling provision both on-site and on the roads to and from the site. The most urgent issue is the lack of safe or convenient crossings of the A264. The planned crossings are desperately substandard and will put most people off cycling altogether. There need to be broad, open underpasses at each key crossing point.

The LSTF route was a huge lost opportunity – almost no improvements were delivered and the project was massively underspent with the money being lost from Horsham altogether. The route itself is very poor and it opened late with a long list of defects and snagging items. Despite considerable effort from the forum, few of these have been corrected.

We continue to fight to stop going backwards. A well-used bridlepath at Christ’s Hospital is under threat. Protecting public access here is especially important as it forms part of a direct route from the northern end of Southwater to the railway station which, with improved surfacing, has great potential as a commuter cycle route because it is much shorter and safer than the road. We argue that the school does not need to close or divert the current right of way as there are reasonable measures available that will keep their pupils safe. The forum raised public awareness, and objectors now include the Parish and District councils. A public enquiry is now likely.

In Broadbridge Heath the new A264 link road has opened without any provision for cycling along it or at the dangerous new Newbridge roundabout (a cyclist has already been hit and airlifted to hospital). Meanwhile the latest plans show that, instead of using the old bypass to create an off-road cycle track, the ‘excess’ tarmac will be pierced to allow it to revert to verge.

In Parsonage Road, councillors approved wider 1.5m cycle lanes as part of the Linden Homes development on the old Novartis car park site. Although these would not have met the latest standards, they would have been a big step forward and showed the council’s commitment to providing for cycling. The 1.5m tracks were not delivered, instead we have dangerously narrow 70cm lanes which are now due to be removed altogether. The end result will be that people are faced with a wider and more hostile road than was there before but absolutely no provision for cycling. This is despite a long campaign, significant press coverage, backing from the parish council and an independent qualified safety auditor and a mixture of shock and disbelief from cycle groups across the country.

One of the most encouraging things for the strength of the forum is that the workload is now being shared by a range of members each acting according to their local knowledge, interests and expertise. Thank you to everyone on the steering group who has shown such enthusiasm and put in so much effort. A particular mention goes to Peter Silburn who has kept the whole show on the road including writing articles, putting up the news on the website, sending out emails and keeping the supporters list up to date. Many thanks also to Philip Ayerst who has taken on the responsibility for responding to numerous planning applications, Francis Vernon, Mark Treasure and Thea Bredie who have made big contributions on various fronts and Geoff Bragg who has taken an increasingly active role.

Election of officers

The following officers were elected unopposed:
Chair – Ruth Fletcher
Secretary – Peter Silburn

We welcome Stella Sharp and Claire Freor-Humphreys onto the Steering group as well as Geoff Bragg and Thea Bredie who have already taken on the role. Philip, Francis and Mark continue on the Steering group.

Next steps – how we become more effective

To be effective we agreed that we need a higher public profile.

Possible events including mass cycle rides were discussed, but any such event would need to attract a large turnout. We therefore need to increase our “membership”. Ways to do so include approaching schools, flyer-ing bikes etc., links to other events, organised rides (kids, picnics etc.).

Targeted events such as “try-a- bike” with a cargo bike/Dutch bikes, possibly tied-in with Wheels for Wellbeing.

Steering group

AOB

Graham raised the issue of unclaimed paths being threatened due to changes in the law. The Open Spaces Society has launched a campaign to register these as community assets. For more details see the Open Spaces website.

 

Date of next meeting

7:30pm on Tuesday 6th December in the Bodiam Room, County Hall North, WSCC, Parkside, Chart Way, Horsham.

*** This will be a shorter meeting than usual followed at 9:00pm by an informal gathering in the Black Jug. ***

Please enter by the side entrance. Cycle parking is available. (By December we hope the promised new cycle racks will be installed and that there will, for the first time, be enough cycle parking.)

Comments

  1. norman saxby says:

    I hope the new cycle racks being installed at County Hall North are not the same as those installed around town. They are both dangerous to use and much to unwealdy. The cycle racks at Horsham Station are much more user friendly.

    • Hi Norman, thanks for your comments. Yes the new racks being installed outside County Hall North will be a much better design then the ones installed outside Boots. As you correctly point out these were an utterly useless waste of money, and dangerous to boot.

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