By Haddenham Webteam - 27th March 2016 12:00pm
NB: This article was updated 27 March 2016
See commentary by Steve Sharp after that from district councillor, Judy Brandis
As residents of Sheerstock, Chilworth Gate and others close to the station know only too well, there is a serious problem of roadside parking by rail commuters as they seek to avoid parking charges at the station.
The parish council has tried to find workable and affordable solutions, and have consulted directly with residents — both through public meetings and through a modest paper-based survey that involved those living at the northern part of Sheerstock.
Efforts to widen the scale of a formal consultation with residents have been held back by the lack of funding — exacerbated by year-on-year cuts to the HPC budget.
Efforts were therefore made to raise additional funds through Bucks CC's Local Area Forum (LAF) for Haddenham & Long Crendon.
The following is a detailed account of the most recent meeting of the LAF, during which the funding of a survey of residents was discussed. The report has been prepared by Roderick Floud, Chairman of the Haddenham Village Society. Also representing Haddenham at the meeting were John Brandis, Vice Chairman of the Village Society; Margaret Aston, Chairman of Haddenham Parish Council; and Judy Brandis, one of Haddenham's three AVDC councillors.
Report on the LAF meeting held on 23 March 2016
Prepared by Roderick Floud, Chairman of Haddenham Village Society
The Local Area Forum considered once again the proposal to finance Bucks County Council to organise, from its 2015/16 budget, Phase 1 of a study into the Sheerstock parking problem.
This would include "Initiation, design and feasibility phase of parking scheme for roads close to Haddenham and Thame Parkway rail station at a cost of £11,200."
It was also proposed to fund, from the 2016/17 budget, "Phase 2: implementation/delivery, at a cost of £10,200 for which a contribution of £5,000 has been secured from Chiltern Railways."
At the outset, Councillor Aston proposed, as an alternative and because of the very restricted funds available to the LAF, that Phase 1 of the study should be funded with £7,200 from the LAF together with £5,000 from Chiltern Railways; this would allow other local priorities to be funded.
This proposal was not accepted, since there was apparently no guarantee that Chiltern Railways would be prepared to part-finance the feasibility study.
When the original proposal to spend £11,200 on Phase 1 and £10,200 on Phase 2 was then considered, Councillor Judy Brandis emphasised the seriousness of the problem but also the importance of consulting the whole village on the issue, since any action to limit parking in Sheerstock would inevitably affect neighbouring streets.
Consultation so far, by residents, has been confined to Sheerstock and the roads off it and Wykeham Way.
John Brandis and Roderick Floud, as representatives of the Village Society, supported Judy in this request for full consultation and the need for a clear undertaking that such village-wide consultation would be included in the feasibility study. This undertaking was not given and it was said that people at the other end of the village would not be interested and would not participate, so that there was no point in asking them. When Roderick Floud asked whether the proposal had been formally endorsed by the Parish Council, he did not receive a reply.
The proposal was, after a rather confused discussion, finally put to the vote and defeated by a large majority.
Comments were made that it was a pity that Haddenham did not appear to be united on this matter. That is indeed a pity; no-one disputes the serious impact that the Parkway station is having on neighbouring streets. This is likely to get worse if new housing developments go ahead and once the Chiltern line is extended into the centre of Oxford.
However, according to those representing the Village Society, these are reasons for insisting that a village-wide solution, acceptable to the majority of residents, should be sought as part of any feasibility study. This is only sensible, since (it is argued) that Bucks CC would wish to know, in receiving the feasibility study and spending further money on any scheme, that village residents had been fully consulted and supported whatever proposals might result.
As a result of this LAF decision, there is still money left in its budget and proposals have been invited for the next meeting; these could include a revised application about Sheerstock and, it that comes forward, it is hoped it will acknowledge the need for village-wide consultation.
Additional Commentary from District Councillor, Judy Brandis
My concern is that we must go straight back to the LAF with a comprehensive remit which covers the Parkway cause of the parking problem as well as its immediate (currently proposed white-line area) consequences and likely wider consequences, and which includes full consultation with railway authority and the rest of the village likely to be affected. I am concerned that this will have a knock-on effect. I have therefore asked the parish council for a consultation with residents to be done on areas within a 10 minute to 15 minutes walk of the station.
Residents will of course be affected by the restrictions imposed upon them by the current white-line proposal to restrict all parking for an hour in the day as well as being imposed upon outsiders. Current consultation appears not to have covered all residents in roads affected by the white-line restriction proposal, which extends beyond Sheerstock and Wykeham Way.
A Parkway Station (normally away from any conurbation) which covers a wide area as does Haddenham and Thame Parkway should enable and facilitate its own parking. The new Oxford Station, which will stimulate more local parking here, has apparently had its own parking fee restricted to £2 (compared with our £6.50) to avoid overloading the nearby park-and-ride park, and this precedent should be used to benefit Haddenham.
We therefore need a strategic rather than a piecemeal response which solves rather than shifts the problem. In the present climate, which has worsened since the former discussions, it is unlikely that LAF will provide money twice if we separate dealing with the immediate consequences and the very likely subsequent consequences, and this is an important reason why we should tackle the whole problem in one go. We will probably get only one bite at the cherry!
Response from Steve Sharp
Councillor Responsible for Communications, Haddenham Parish Council
Congratulations on trying to bring the village up to date with what happened at a very unsatisfactory meeting of the Local Area Forum last Tuesday. Unfortunately you have not managed to convey the whole story.
The Haddenham and Long Crendon LAF, advised by County Council 'locality' officers, contains representatives of eleven parish councils (Aston Sandford, Kingsey, Brill, Chearsley, Cuddington, Dinton, Stone, Long Crendon, Haddenham, Oakley and Ickford). They each have one vote, as do the district and county councillors for the area. Some other bodies, such as the Haddenham Village Society, attend and can speak, but not vote.
The application for funding to make progress on the parking issue was made by the Parish Council and ticked all the boxes for the agreed LAF priorities. It was only on the agenda because, having been included in the LAF budget in 2015-16, that budget was frozen by the County Council earlier in the year. It should have been a straightforward roll-forward.
I am the Parish Council representative on the LAF. I spoke and voted for the project. It is not surprising that, in view of other Haddenham people expressing other opinions, the majority of representatives of smaller parishes voted as they did. A disservice has been done to those in the Sheerstock area who have worked hard and consulted thoroughly.
Incidentally, the application was made following a meeting which included representatives of the Village Society, the Safe Walking and Cycling Group and the Community Police Support Officer.