Author Archives: Peter

Loughton School : an observation of the morning school run

The Parish Council recently received a complaint from a local resident about school drop off parking.

The resident complained :-

“The bends on Bradwell Road heading towards Linceslade Grove are generally parked up on both sides – gridlock ensued last week when a lorry was heading towards the School!

The car parks on either side of Bradwell Road are regarded by a not inconsiderable few as a second choice to parking on the pavements either side of the car parks, presumable to give a quicker getaway than the car parks. On Monday drop off there were around a dozen free parking spaces and yet four cars parked on the pavement. I have heard anecdotal complaint that when PCSOs / PCs have been at the school they have merely observed – no education and certainly no tickets. “

We discussed the problem in the full Parish Council meeting on Monday 16th October 2017 and I proposed to go down to observe the problem.

I chose the morning of Thursday 19th October because the weather forecast was for rain around the morning school drop off time and therefore I expected to see the problem at its worst.

I arrived at about 8.15am and stood near the junction of Bradwell Road where it meets Ashpole Furlong/Paynes Drive. The school gates open at about 8.30am, the doors or the school open at 8.40am and I think school starts around 8.50am.

It was cloudy and there was very light drizzle. It was quite grey so most cars still had their lights on as it seemed dark and gloomy.

From 8.15am until about 8.35am my impression was everything was going quite ok. The traffic was busy and moving with lots of bicycles, pedestrians and cars. It was busy but not gridlocked. There were lots of children of all ages making their way to Loughton and Denbigh schools. Some were on their own, some with parents, and some accompanied by young pre-school siblings.

At 8.35am, things noticeably changed and there was then what I would describe as a “mad 10 minutes”. A number of cars started to park on the pavement around the car park areas near where I was standing (on Bradwell Rd near the j/w Paynes Drive). One car parked on the zig zag lines in Paynes Drive

A Mercedes parked on the pavement – rather than using the car park – potentially forcing pedestrians into the road

A Nissan parking on the zig zag lines near Paynes Drive

A VW parked on the pavement – outside the car park

The owner of a BMW parked on the pavement outside the car park also. I offered the driver a leaflet from the Parish Council asking drivers to be considerate, which she initially refused to take. She was busy accompanying her daughter into the school and verbally abused me in front of her young child.

Another driver had parked right on the junction of Bradwell Rd and Ashpole Furlong – part on the pavement. When I spoke to that driver and pointed out that he was both blocking the pavement and creating a potential hazard for pedestrians crossing the road, and might be better to use the vacant space in the car park, he informed me he had paid his car tax and was therefore entitled to park where he liked!

By 8.50am the “moment of madness” had passed and serenity resumed.

My overall impression was that the complaint made by the resident about the parking of parents of the school making the drop-off was entirely justified. It seems parents were arriving at school at the last moment and trying to drop off their children in a great hurry and were not willing to try to consider parking in the car park but felt entitled to park on the pavements and/or close to the junctions. They seemed to be so focused on trying to do the school run in the minimum time that they were not really thinking about the safety of pedestrians, including particularly vulnerable road users, and young children.

It might help if some “no parking on the pavement” boards were erected just before the school run as well as some signs reminding parents of the importance of enabling young children to get to school and home safe and sound.

I will be passing on these observations to the management of the School and to the local traffic enforcement authorities at MK Council and Thames Valley Police. Lets hope together we can keep our children safe and avoid any serious injuries and accidents occurring.

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Loughton residents petition against introduction of parking charges

A resident of Ebbsgrove, Loughton – Mr Peter Rothery, has started a petition against the recent decision by MK Council to introduce a fee for residents parking schemes in Milton Keynes.

Please see the facebook page of the Loughton Residents Association for further details

Share

Parish Council involvement in landscape management

Photo 3

Brian Barton (Parish Clerk) and I attended another meeting today with Andy Hudson (Head of Environment and Waste at Milton Keynes Council) and John Price (Landscape Manager of MK Council) to discuss our involvement in managing the landscaping in the Parish.

Landscape management comprises the maintenance of those areas of land which falls under the responsibility of the Council (rather than others such as the Parks Trust or private owners). It includes grass cutting, shrub pruning and tree work not involving working at height. The Localism Act 2011 legislated to decentralise power to local communities including transferring assets and services. MK Council has invited the Parish to take over responsibility for management of landscaping as part of this.

Today’s meeting was part of a series of meetings which have happened over a couple of years and during which time there has been significant change. We have now reached a point where it seems there is a clearer way forward with this.

One option is for landscaping to be entirely devolved to the Parish Council and we could contract with our own supplier. Overall, this solution works best for larger Parishes and where there is a long track record of experience. L&GHPC is a small Parish with a skeleton staff and we have no track record of any involvement in landscape management so it would be a large leap to take on responsibility ourselves. This does not seem an appropriate step, at least at the present time.

Should therefore we leave arrangements alone and do nothing and allow our landscape maintenance to be managed from outside the Parish and with little or no local involvement? For a number of reasons I strongly think the answer to that is no.

We discussed an alternative solution where MKC gives L&GHPC agency power to manage the landscaping budget. They would provide us with training on the contract specification which consists of various key documents. We would have quarterly meetings with SERCO and Frosts who deliver the landscaping services. We would form a L&GHPC landscape working group which would review the current state of the landscape and identify issues for discussion with the contractor. We would provide an input into checking the service delivery to ensure it was compliant with the contract specification. We would provide some funding ourselves which we could contribute towards re-planting and improvement of the area. We could also find funds within the existing budget by resource-switching towards priorities which local people approved. We could also integrate some of the existing landscaping responsibilities we have with the SERCO contract where savings and efficiencies could be achieved. We will also access expert advise from MKC’s horticultural experts.

Overall, I hope the Parish Council will see that our involvement in management of our local landscape has the potential through Localism to achieve both efficiency savings and improvement in outcomes which will make Loughton and Great Holm an area noted for the excellence and beauty of its local landscape and management.

Peter Todd

Chair, Loughton & Great Holm Parish Council

3rd December 2015

 

 

Share

Vandalised Parish Council dog bin restored

LPC12 Vandalised 001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the larger and busier dog hygiene bins provided by the Parish Council, located on the redway near to the Great Holm Fire Station was vandalised in April 2015.

Bin #12 is a larger, 35 litre bin and was badly damaged by fire, beyond repair. It is in regular use.

The cost of replacement incurred by the Parish Council is a total of £265 plus VAT including supply of a new replacement bin, installation and removal and disposal of the damaged bin. The Police have been informed and a claim submitted to our insurers.

The new bin has now been installed as below. There have been several incidents recently when our dog bins have been damaged by mindless vandals. If you see this, please report it to us and the Police. Thanks.

LPC12 Replacement 001

 

 

 

Share

The Jubilee Graveyard

Gravestone of the first Parish Council Chairman Reverend John T Athawes

 

 

 

 

 

 
The Jubilee Graveyard is managed by a Committee formed of representatives of Parish Councillors from Loughton and Great Holm Parish Council and the Churchwardens of All Saints Church, Loughton.

The graveyard committee reviewed the fees set for the graveyard which have not been increased since 2012 and has decided in February 2015 to increase them so that the new fees are as follows :-

Right of forthwith interment for a grave of single depth £788

Right of forthwith interment for a grave of double depth £1,050

Right of interment during next 30 years for a grave of single depth (ie reservation) £630

Right of interment during next 30 years for a grave of double depth (ie reservation) £840

Right of forthwith interment of ashes of single depth £315

Right of forthwith interment of ashes of double depth £420

Right of interment during next 30 years of ashes of single depth £252

Right of interment during next 30 years of ashes of double depth £336

Right to install a grave headstone of approved specification £263

Right to install a tablet of approved specification on an ashes plot £105

 

 

Share

Meeting re transfer of landscape maintenance contract

Photo 1

The Parish Clerk and I attended a meeting at 8.30am this morning with Andy Hudson (Head of Environment & Waste at MK Council and John Price (Countryside Manager, MK Council).

We were again discussing the proposal for transfer of the responsibility for landscape maintenance in the Parish from MK Council to the Parish Council. This follows the meeting we had on 15th May 2014 which I noted up in a previous blog post.

The “go live” date we previously discussed of 3rd November 2014 did not happen as MK Council have been busy with the new SERCO contracting arrangements. They now suggest a “go live” date of 1st April 2015 as this is the start of the new financial year.

SERCO have one-third of the MKC contract subcontracted to Frosts – so it is good to see a local company involved in local landscape maintenance.

We were told the arrangement would be for an initial period of 3 years but it could be extended up to 5 years as the SERCO contract lasts 5 yrs from 1st April 2015. The areas covered would be grass cutting, basic tree work (not involving working at height) and shrub cutting. Funding would be provided for each of the years and would be paid quarterly although the contractor would invoice monthly.

We agreed they would send us the devolution agreement and the latest contract specification, map and bill of quantities. There is a requirement all the grant funding is spent on landscape maintenance.

We agreed to put it on the agenda for the Parish Council meeting in January to decide whether to authorise execution of the landscape devolution agreement.

We also agreed that we would arrange a “walk-around” the areas with an officer of MK Council to discuss the specification and re-planting

Overall I think that the residents of Loughton & Great Holm would like the Parish Council to take a more active role in ensuring the landscape maintenance is up to scratch and would be willing to provide some funding from the precept to maintain the look of our area – in the same way that other villages in MK have done very successfully for many years, and thereby making the area a good place to live and work.

 

 

 

Share

Conservation Area Review

The Parish Council webpage re the Loughton Conservation area has now been fully updated to include the latest draft of the proposed new Conservation Area statement, the Parish Council’s statement re the consultation carried out in 2013 and MK Council’s timetable for adoption of the new statement which is as follows :-

stage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is therefore presently intended that the new conservation statement will be adopted in February 2015.

 

Share

Chair’s Annual Report on the activities of the Parish Council for the year 2013 2014

As Chair of the Parish Council for year 2013-14, it is my duty to report on the activities of the Parish Council during the year.

My report is now available via the link below

Loughton and Great Holm Parish Council chair’s annual report 2013 2014

Share

Landscape maintenance in the Parish

Photo 3

Brian (Parish Clerk) and I attended a meeting today with Andy Hudson (Head of Environment and Waste at MK Council and John Price (Landscape Manager, MK Council) to discuss the devolution of landscape maintenance services from MK Council to the Loughton & Great Holm Parish Council.

MK Council have now let a borough-wide landscape maintenance contract to SERCO after a round of bids involving 12 bidders. This was approved by the MK Council Cabinet on 16th April. At the moment the services are delivered by MK Council’s in-house staff but SERCO will take over with effect from 3rd November 2014.

SERCO already hold the street cleansing contract from MK Council and this is not likely to devolve any time soon. SERCO will do a street clean at the same time as undertaking landscape works. We will be able to liaise with supervisor Dave Reeve and overall manager Mark Sturgeon. The SERCO contract does not require us to continue to employ SERCO so we could re-tender or let the contract to another local supplier if not satisfied. The rates in the SERCO contract are likely to be competitive however – and there is the additional benefit of them doing street cleansing at the same time.

As part of the transfer of responsibility for services under the Localism Act, maintenance of landscape services is being transferred in some areas to Parish Councils. Olney, Ravenstone & Stony Stratford all took over responsibility from 1st April 2014. Weston Underwood have been responsible for their own landscaping for the last 15+ years and have successful won “best kept village” awards on numerous occasions.

At the meeting today we discussed the mechanics of the Parish Council taking over responsibility for managing the services. We will receive a grant from MK Council to fund the contract. They will provide us with the detailed specification, contract terms and rates and plan. We will then review this and see how it will integrate with our existing maintenance responsibilities – such as the Millennium Meadow and the Loughton sports ground. We can see how we can tailor services and switch resources around to meet local priorities. We would of course need to consult with MK Council re any major changes.

I asked to see a copy of the street cleansing specification so we can be aware of the current contractual requirements and potentially we can carry out spot checks to see that the obligations are being performed. This additional monitoring could be a useful service for local residents to ensure the environment is kept in good order and not allowed to deteriorate without anyone being aware.

We agreed to aim for a “go live” date for transfer of responsibility for 3rd November 2014 – subject of course to formal approval of the arrangements by the Parish Council and MK Council.

Landscape maintenance covers grass cutting, shrub cutting and trees.

I’d be interested to hear views from local residents about the current landscape maintenance and where it could be improved or made more efficient. There may be areas we can allow to grow where it would not cause any hazard and might benefit local wildlife. Please let us have your comments to this blog post

 

 

 

 

Share

Less is more launch in Loughton, Monday 27th January 2014

On Monday 27th January 2014, at 7.30pm, I attended the launch of the “Less is more”  pilot project, at the Loughton Memorial Hall.

This project began on 20th January and will run until 7th December 2014.

The aim of the project is to explore ways to reduce the increase in electricity demand, especially at peak times.

Electricity sub-stations have to be able to manage the peak demand – which is generally at about 6-7pm in the evening when most people are home from work, switching on the lights and consuming the most electricity. At the moment, about every 8 years, sub-stations have to be re-engineered to upgrade components to handle an ever greater amount of consumption. This costs about £20k per sub-station – a cost which all consumers have to bear.

There can hardly be an electricity bill-payer in the country who has not noticed just how much electricity costs have risen.

So the aim of the project is to find ways that we can reduce demand and spread the demand across the day so that the expensive upgrade is no longer required.

As an incentive, local areas can generate up to £5k for good causes in their local areas.

Loughton has been chosen as one of 10 pilot areas.

Residents of the following streets may be eligible to take part in the project :-

    • Linceslade Grove
    • Redland Drive
    • School Lane
    • Pitcher Lane
    • Weldon Rise
    • Leys Road
    • Kirkham Court
    • Catesby Croft
    • Common Lane
    • Pinks Close
    • Hugh Parke Close
    • Foxley Place

For more information please look at www.lessismore.org.uk and/or contact me at chairman@loughtonandgreatholm-pc.gov.uk

Residents taking part in the project can get a free electricity monitor, can get a free thermal imaging test on their home (to look at insulation issues), and get information about how they can reduce their consumption and save money.

I’m grateful to the National Energy Foundation (located within the Parish at Knowlhill) for their work on this project, and wish it success

Share