Better consultation clearly needed!

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WHILE it was good to see local democracy in action during the recent protests against Warrington Borough Council’s controversial low traffic schemes for Orford and Westy, one does have to question how effective local consultation has been on these projects?

As we reported on the schemes, the overriding message was that people didn’t know about these proposals to change their local road networks.

Credit where credit is due to council leader Russ Bowden agreeing to receive a petition from Orford protesters outside the town hall, while a senior council officer accepted a similar petition from Westy residents outside another demonstration outside the Parr Hall at Full Council. Cllr. Bowden also went to the trouble of visiting a local business in Latchford impacted by the changes while also discussing and taking on board concerns.

While the decision has been taken to pause the Orford scheme, the controlling Labour group ignored pleas from opposition councillors and local residents at Westy to pause their scheme which will now come into force for a trial period.

The irony of the situation was that many, including myself, who had planned to attend at the Parr Hall, couldn’t make it after becoming stuck in gridlock caused by a police incident on Kingsway Bridge which impacted on the local network. Traffic was literally bumper to bumper the entire length of Knutsford Road, all the way back to Westy and the Cantilever Bridge.

Despite all the measures being taken to resolve Warrington’s traffic congestion, every time there is an incident on the motorway network Warrington is significantly impacted.

While I understand the need to make our residential roads safer and less polluted I fear these Low Traffic schemes will simply create more problems or push the problems elsewhere onto other roads.

Living in an age where people will still pay £100 to fill up their tanks while driving cars on a five-10 minute journey on the school run, no amount of highway schemes is going to detract from the problems. As human beings, we are often creatures of habit – and it is far too easy to jump into a car to make a short journey.

Until we can change peoples’ habits we will not resolve the traffic issues facing not just our town or country but most of the civilised world.

We certainly shouldn’t just be spending money we have been given by the Government to try and resolve problems in a short time scale.

Hopefully, we can find a way forward but better consultation is clearly needed. Time and again I have told the powers that be that the ways of advertising public notices are outdated and not reaching people – but again we are trapped in a system where old habits die hard.

There is also an unrealistic expectation for people to read through complex consultation documents, while mail shots can easily be lost in junk mail these days – and few people read small print. If it isn’t in their phones, there is little chance of it being in their minds.

I’m as guilty as anyone for missing stuff in the post and only being aware of something when I see it on my phone.

It also didn’t help that consultation started four years ago – and was interrupted by a global pandemic!

Confusion and chaos on first day of Westy low traffic scheme


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About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

3 Comments

    • But you couldn’t change your habit of leaving the car behind on a Sunday night and catching a bus because there are no buses, at least have a service in place before you expect people to go down that road and it’s not much better after 6-00 p.m.

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