BITS AND PIECES. WINNING AND LOSING BUT MOSTLY WINNING!

The Gypsies who wanted to set up home by the A55 in my ward lost their appeal recently. Much champagne was drunk by the constituents who had worked very hard to ensure their quality of life was retained. I’m pleased for them. I have nothing against travellers but I object to development in the open countryside. I also thought that the lane leading to the proposed site really was too narrow, with insufficient passing places, particularly with caravans and trucks attempting to come & leave the site.

What worried me MOST was the noise from the A55 that I’ve known about since April. My in-box has groaned under the weight of residents complaints of noise. The A55 skirts around the St David’s Park and the ageing road’s concrete blocks have moved and constant rumble is the residents daily diet of stress. The temporary surface laid years previously to help the problem can no longer quell the now increasing constant noise caused by ever increasing traffic. The Trunk Road Agency agreed an acoustic fence was the only solution but promise after promise by these officials vanished into the ether. The complaints rolled remorselessly in by frustrated residents who were being run ragged by increasing intrusion into their lives through unacceptable noise. No conservatory or garden close to the bad road surface escaped the rumble.

It seemed logical that if houses were suffering from excessive noise along the same road, how much more would caravans be affected. Of particular concern to me was the danger to young ears. Apparently, 13 children could have taken up residence in a wet field close to this heavily used A55, and still may do so!

Numerous studies have shown that children are badly affected by noise and pollution but no assessment had been done for this site. So, my evidence to the Planning Tribunal raised my concerns of noise and the effect on the young caught the Inspector’s attention. He could not believe that Flintshire Planners had not conducted a noise assessment and sharply questioned me. “I’ve asked twice” I replied, “and I’ve been told that the caravans there by choice and therefore there is no obligation for the noise impact assessment”. “I’m sure I’ve got this right”, I muttered. It was very clear the Inspector was not impressed. And so it was shown by the judgement. The application was refused until the noise issue could be resolved one way or the other. Within days of the ruling, the gypsy agent had started a monitoring operatation. Flintshire must also do the same. The results may have very wide ranging consequences.

The reason: Mark Isherwood, AM for North Wales has upped the debate by asking Labour Welsh Government ministers what are the proposals to all planning applications across Wales as a result of this Ewloe gypsy ruling. My good friend, the seeming ageless Jane Hutt has promised an answer.

The other St David’s Park noise problem will soon be addressed thanks to Minister, Carl Sargeant, AM and I’m so chuffed that I’ve sent him a thank you card. What happened was in desperation, I rang his office in Shotton and begged for help. His PA knew me from former council days and promised Carl would be briefed. Carl even rang me at my home and listened carefully to the tale of woe. Nothing happened for weeks and I despaired again. The emails asking for news just kept on coming. Then, Eureka! In a letter dated 19th October from Welsh Government official, an acoustic fence will be erected within this financial year. It won’t come cheap and with money so short, Carl’s decision is most welcome. I’ve invited him to any press coverage when the new fence is erected. Thanks again, Carl. Really appreciate your help.

The final A55 problem focussed on the lack of warning signs to tell motorists they were approaching Gateway Services with its welcoming coffee and food facilities. Roger Griffiths, the site agent had involved me months before as not only lack of advertising was bad for business but more importantly, a fatal accident had occurred when a driver veered across traffic to reach the slip-road because she saw the facility too late for a safe manoeuvre.

Meeting after meeting with FCC & Trunk Road agency’s finest; to decide if signs could be erected well down the Aston Hill strip to tell motorists of the forthcoming pit stop.However, putting up a road sign is more complicated than I ever imagined and the final decision is made by some solitary bod in Cardiff.

When walking the dogs near the A55 on 23rd October, I spied a super new sign nestling by a hedge. “Gateway Services” 1 Mile was the message. Services sign(I hope its posted on this blog). I was so chuffed, I immediately took a photo on the mobile camera. I told the dogs how clever I was to have had some small part in resolving this problem too. Some issues take months to resolve and end in failure. Battling away is frustrating and time consuming but when you get a result, it becomes all worth while. Thank you too TRA officers and to that solitary bod in Cardiff.

Footnote: Whatever the outcome of the noise survey for the proposed gypsy site, I’m told its not FCC’s responsiltiy to erect one. The cost will be down to the gypsies.

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