Heptonstall Traffic Group Report, July 2014

Following a request by the Traffic Group the police have taken action to enforce the Village 20mph zone. Results of this action have so far shown no significant infringement.

Calderdale Council have agreed a policy to introduce 20mph speed limits in all residential areas in the Borough over the next three years. The Council is currently considering how the policy is to be implemented. The initiative may resolve the question as to how we get the present 20mph zone in Heptonstall extended to cover all built-up areas in the Parish.

Traffic obstruction problems due to inconsiderate parking on Longfield/Southfield appear to have eased following the introduction of ‘mini-buses’ but problems caused by parking outside and above and below the Cross seem to be on the increase. This problem is under investigation to see how it may be resolved.

Preliminary work has been carried out to introduce ‘decorative’ Village entry signs welcoming visitors and requesting careful driving. This is another part of our campaign to slow drivers down and make the Village safer.

Planning has provided advice on how we might best obtain permission for a new off-road car park on Valley View Road. Preliminary proposals have been drawn up to obtain further feedback on feasibility from Planning and Highways. The proposals call for road widening to accommodate off-road parallel parking for up to 21 cars.

Consulting you on Calderdale’s speed limits

20mphsign1The Traffic, Parking and Road Safety Group have received details of a consultation exercise on speed limits by Calderdale MBC, and urge local residents to take advantage of this opportunity to express their concerns on the matter.

More information on the consultation can be seen by clicking on the speed limit sign.

Alternatively, frequently asked questions and a link for posting your views on-line can be seen by following this link.

Heptonstall Traffic, Parking & Road Safety Group: Follow-up to the June 2013 traffic speed survey in Towngate and Smithwell Lane

Calderdale Council’s Highways Department were appraised of the results of our survey by email in early August and a meeting requested to decide what action might be taken to enforce the 20 mph limit.

Highways’ responded by email saying that no further action or meeting was needed on the grounds that:

(a) the higher readings were probably spurious (since the method of measurement can give rise to spurious readings when, for example two vehicles cross the tubes at the same time) and,

(b) the survey showed that the speed limit was, in the main, being adhered to.


In a further exchange of emails it was pointed out to Highways that:

(a) We agreed that most drivers adhered to the speed limit, our concern was with the danger posed by the 30+% who did not;

(b) Whilst we agreed that some of the very high readings might be spurious, it was unlikely that they all were, that such readings were consistent with anecdotal evidence, and that even if they were discounted it still left a large number of vehicles (albeit a small %) travelling at more than 30mph ie well above the speed limit;

(c) In the circumstances, effective enforcement required proper traffic calming measures rather than conventional police action eg full width cobbled road bumps at intervals along the street;

(d) The Community is seriously concerned that unless something is done there is going to be a nasty accident. This concern and the evidence presented was surely sufficient to justify at least a meeting to discuss possible improvements?


Despite these arguments Highways remains intractable. For the reasons given of budgetary constraint and the need to manage scarce resources according to priorities across the Borough, Highways have confirmed that “ there remains insufficient justification to pursue any works in the foreseeable future” and that “there is no benefit in holding a meeting when there is no prospect of action being taken in the current climate”.

So, where do we go from here? There seems little point in pursuing Highways further. Perhaps the speeding problems will recede with the re-opening of Lee Wood Road – although the problems pre-dated its closure ? Perhaps the current Calderdale Council initiative to introduce 20mph schemes in all residential areas in Calderdale will have a positive impact – although speed limits without effective enforcement might be seen as a toothless weapon? We (and the Parish Council) will continue to monitor the situation and will lobby our Ward Councillors and the Police to try to get action. We sincerely hope that we are not going to have to wait for an accident to happen before something is done.

In the meantime Calderdale Council intend to consult the public on their “plans to introduce 20mph zones in residential areas across Calderdale” (article on Page 8 of the Hebden Bridge Times, 10th October 2013). It is intended that the consultation will be carried out via their website and three public meetings across the Borough but as at 24th October the arrangements have not been announced.




Bus Service Threat

Metro and First bus companies are proposing to scrap through buses from Heptonstall to Halifax.

There will be a half-hourly service from Blackshaw Head through Heptonstall to Hebden Bridge, and a bus every ten minutes from Todmorden via Hebden Bridge to Halifax.

Their statement below:

First are considering making substantial changes to bus services in Hebden Bridge,  particularly services 591 and 593 at the end of January 2014. The company plan to operate every 10 minutes (Monday to Saturday) between Halifax and Todmorden via Hebden Bridge. To achieve this there will no longer be a direct service to Halifax from Heptonstall and Old Town.

Metro is proposing a revised minibus network for the area which will both address recent unreliability problems and maintain links to Hebden Bridge which would be lost following the changes to services 591 and 593.

Metro and First would like to seek your views on these proposals.

Why change is needed        

  • First have indicated that they wish to concentrate resources on an improved Halifax – Hebden Bridge – Todmorden service
  • Unreliability of current minibus network due to vehicle problems
  • The current minibuses are reaching the end of their working life
  • Poor connections to train and longer distance bus services
  • Duplication of bus resources on routes to/ from Old Town, Heptonstall, Keighley Road and Cragg Vale
  • The need to find a solution which does not involve additional public subsidy

Proposals by First

  • Service frequency between Halifax and Todmorden increased to every 10 minutes from 0700 until 1800 (Mon – Fri). “Turn up and go” frequency between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden
  • Services 591 (Heptonstall – Halifax) and 593 (Old Town – Halifax) withdrawn

Proposals by Metro

  • Metro will invite tenders for a new minibus network increasing from 3 buses to 4 buses
  • Smaller minibuses introduced to improve access

What type of buses will be used?

Metro are proposing to increase the number of minibuses from 3 to 4 and to use smaller vehicles which are better equipped for roads in the area. This will enable us to serve more areas.  The smaller buses will carry up to 16 passengers. Unfortunately the use of smaller buses will mean less room for shopping, buggies etc. Also some passengers may find it harder to get into and out of a smaller minibus.  We will finalise the make and model of buses when we appoint a bus operator for the services.

To complete the survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/hebdenbridgebusreview

Alternatively, public consultation drop-in events during August, where First and Metro staff will be available to answer questions and listen to your suggestions.

Wednesday 07 August 10:00 – 18:30 Hebden Bridge Town Hall
Thursday 15 August 14:30 – 18:30 Halifax Bus Station

If you need to contact Metro regarding these proposals, please email busconsultation@wypte.gov.uk

Traffic survey proves drivers speeding

A covert traffic survey organised by a residents’ group has shown cars speeding at more than 55mph through the village, in contrast to Calderdale’s radar gun survey.

The council’s survey suggested average speeds of only 12-13mph but the residents’ group believes this was due to the way the speeds were measured. Full statement below from Heptonstall Traffic, Parking & Road Safety Group

Results of a traffic speed survey carried out in Towngate and Smithwell Lane over the period 20-26th June 2013.

Residents have long complained of the non-compliance of drivers with the 20mph speed zone through Towngate and Smithwell Lane. These complaints have grown in both number and volume since the Lee Wood Road closure forced increased traffic through the Village and serious road safety concerns have been voiced by an increasing number of the wider local community.

The Group and the Parish Council have repeatedly taken up these concerns with Calderdale Council, first to try to obtain effective speed zone enforcement and second to get effective traffic calming measures in place. The Council’s response has been to carry out some sporadic SiD/Radar gun surveys, the latest of which suggested average speeds of 12-13mph, maximum speeds of 20mph and 85 percentile speeds (the parameter used for determining speed limits) of 14-16mph. As a consequence of these results Calderdale Council proposed to take no further action.

To try to resolve this conflict between residents’ and Calderdale Council’s views and because in our opinion the Calderdale surveys are unreliable (random days & locations, short time periods, SiD/Radar gun visibility slows drivers down) the Group, with Parish Council support, decided to carry out its own more systematic, comprehensive and covert survey.

Our objective was to provide hard evidence either, that drivers are compliant with the 20mph limit and that therefore residents have no cause for concern or, that drivers are not compliant and that therefore some enforcement and/or traffic calming action is needed from Calderdale.

The speed survey was carried out over the seven day period 20th – 26th June 2013 by Leeds City Council, which is contracted by Calderdale Council to carry out similar work for them. Traffic volume and speed data was collected by hour, for 24 hours per day in 5mph wide ‘bins’ from 0 to 60mph, using pneumatic tube sensors across the road and battery operated electronic recording equipment – a more discrete method of measurement than radar guns/SiD and much less likely to impact on normal driving speeds.

Measurement was carried out for both ‘up’ (Northbound) and ‘down’ (Southbound) traffic at three points: at the start of the ‘cobbles’ just uphill of the junction with Valley View Road (ie inside the 20mph zone at the lower entry to the Village); at the junction of Silver Street with Smithwell Lane; and, at the Lodge/Sandal House entrance drive (ie inside the 20mph zone at the upper entry to the Village). Unfortunately, due to technical problems, the Silver Street equipment delivered only 3 full days of results but the other equipments delivered a full 7 days of results and we consider we have more than adequate data to draw some robust conclusions.

The survey produced a mass of data and analysis of it is on-going but a brief summary of salient facts of immediate interest is provided in the table overleaf. The most striking facts to emerge are:
• 800-900 vehicles travel up and down Towngate/Smithwell Lane per day (reducing to 500-600 at week-ends);
• Of these 8-12% exceed the 20mph speed limit at the lower end of the Village, 7-9% do so at Silver Street and 32-33% exceed the limit at the upper end;
• Amazingly, at the lower end of the Village 5 vehicles were recorded travelling at more than 45mph, of which 2 were exceeding 55mph, whilst at Silver Street (in just three days) 3 were recorded at more than 40mph and, at the upper end of the Village, 11 were exceeding 40mph, of which 3 were exceeding 55mph.

We consider the results of the survey lend substantive weight to the views of residents, that there is considerable non-compliance with the 20mph speed zone and that a significant number of vehicles are being driven at dangerously high speeds through the Village. It is our intention to use the evidence generated to try to persuade Calderdale Council to take effective action to achieve driver compliance with the 20mph zone.
traffic survey-page-0

Lee Wood Road re-opening August

Lee Wood Road, which skirts Heptonstall village, will re0pen to traffic from August 16 or earlier, according to Calderdale Council.

A letter from the Planning and Highways division said there would be a permanent 40mph speed limit and 18 tonne weight limit, with the larger vehicles being diverted via Todmorden, Cliviger and Blackshaw Head.

Boreholes have shown that the section of wall cannot be reconstructed using the council’s current method, as the wall would need to be built from more than 6m below road level.

However, as monitoring  has shown no further movement, engineers plan to narrow this section between Tentercroft and Hollins to a single lane and re-open it with vehicle-activated traffic lights.

Reconstruction of the collapsed section of the retaining wall that supports the road has now been completed. Workmen are now re-laying a drainage channel, trimming trees and putting in a kerb to narrow the road and traffic lights.

Monitoring will continue, and if the road begins to show movement again, the wall would have to be replaced with a piled construction. Designs for this will be made as a contingency measure. Building this would mean closing the road again.

A letter to residents about the works is on display in the noticeboard cabinet next to the café.

Official confirmation of the above plans to  re-open Lee Wood Road have now been received from Calderdale MBC by the Parish Council.

Details can be seen here…

Traffic issues

By the Traffic, Parking and Road Safety Group

Are you concerned about traffic through the village? 

Are you prepared to put pen to paper to report issues?

We’re gathering ‘evidence’ to present to CMBC – to try to convince them that more needs to be done to relieve current (and possibly future) traffic difficulties resulting from the Lee Wood Road situation.

Reporting forms are available in the Post Office or by calling the phone number below.

Please return completed forms to the collection box in the Post Office or the alternative address on the form.

Photos and/or video clips would also be helpful.

Contact Number for forms or further information:       01422 847328

The Traffic, Parking and Road Safety Group

 An action group supported by Heptonstall Parish Council

& Heptonstall Forward

Traffic, Parking and Road Safety Group

The project group formed following the production of the Community Led Plan has got its first result – new double yellow lines and road markings at the notorious junction of Hepton Drive, Southfield and Longfield. We hope that the bus service blockages and other access problems caused by irresponsible parking at this junction will now be a thing of the past. Thank you Calderdale Council for your prompt action on this one and thank you local residents for your positive support.

The group has also carried out a review of current speed limits in the Parish and has submitted proposals to Calderdale for a more sensible, consistent and safer approach to traffic speed. For example, extending the current 20mph limit in the Village to the side-streets (you will have observed that speed limits currently increase to 30mph on these!), and introducing more sensible speed limits in Slack, Widdop Road and Colden. Unfortunately,  Calderdale’s budget for ‘rural’ speed limit reviews is very restricted and we are in a queue to get action but, we are continuing to press Calderdale Councillors and Officers hard on this one so watch this space.

Finally, we are also pursuing Calderdale on the vexed question of parking more generally, particularly in the Village. Proposals for more off-street parking are on the table and other possibilities for reducing current problems include residents’ parking permits, one way streets, road widening , further parking restrictions, etc. Again, we are in a queue even to meet traffic officers to discuss the issues and have enlisted our Ward Councillors’ help to try and make progress. We intend to keep at it – another space to watch ….