Meeting held 18th March 2011 in Chacombe Village Hall to discuss the local implications of the closure of the A361 road between Chacombe and Banbury for the Banbury Flood Alleviation works

Present

Steven Shuttleworth Director Service Delivery SNC
Councillor Rosie Herring SNC
Councillor Mar-Ann Sergison-Brooke SNC
Sue Shepherd Clerk to Chacombe PC
James Harper Chacombe PC
Roger Bell Chacombe PC
Pam Stokes Boddington PC
Caroline Wild Chairman Wardington PC
Jose Rowling Clerk to Culworth PC
Goffe Taylor Chairman Aston le Walls PC
Gill Taylor Clerk to Aston le Walls PC
Nigel Galletly Chairman Chipping Warden PC
County Councillor Ken Melling NCC
Alan Etheridge Project Engineer NCC
Helen Grainger Highways and Transport OCC
Mike Horton Principal Traffic Technician OCC
Ian Ledingham Northamptonshire Police
Richard Harding Project Executive Environment Agency
Barry Russell Flood Risk Manager Environment
Agency

Apologies: Cropredy Parish Council

Steven Shuttleworth (Director of Service Delivery South Northants Council) kindly agreed to chair the meeting and outlined an agenda of discussion to cover the details of the proposed scheme, the proposed traffic diversion, and communications.

The Scheme

Barry Russell from the Environment Agency outlined the scheme which is to protect Banbury from the flooding which occurred in 1998 and 2007. It has involved designing a pumping station and flow control structures. This scheme will protect up to a ‘once in 200 year’ event, with significant benefits to Banbury (both residential and commercial properties) and areas adjoining the town. The will also be a benefit to South Northants as the flood alleviation scheme will protect a water treatment plant in Banbury which currently serves 3000 homes in Northamptonshire. The train station will also be protected as will Kings Sutton down-stream from Banbury.

The contractors (Morrison Construction) are using material sourced locally to prevent extra lorry movements. It has been decided (after considerable study by EZ, NCC and OCC) that it would be quicker, cheaper and safer to go for a complete road closure than a partial one. The scheme will raise 800 metres of road carriageway by 750mm maximum and 400mmm average. This will not prevent flooding on the A361 itself but it should be slightly better than at present. There will be culverts to let the water flow under the road so that it does not act as a barrier.

Morrison Construction applied for the road closure but could not do any communications until the result of the recent public enquiry. There have been leaflets distributed around the villages. Weight restriction signs will be put on the roads leading off the A361 – this is a task for w/c 21/3/11.

The work will end by or before 11th July in time of the Grand Prix weekend.

Goffe Taylor from Aston le Walls PC asked if there would be any affect on the Byfield Reservoir feeder. He was assured that there would be no effect to any parts up-stream from the works. Steven Shuttleworth asked the Environment Agency to provide fuller details regarding Byfield Reservoir, to give AlPPC the confidence they were seeking.
Action: Richard Harding to contact Aston le Walls PC.

Diversion Proposal

Alan Etheridge from NCC explained that the A361 is a classified as a red route because of its accident history and this is why the road closure was supported so that the work could be carried out safely. However, he explained that the local highway authority had no power to enforce the 7.5 tonne weight limit since enforcement is a police responsibility. Parishes would therefore have to notify the police of any infringements, taking a note of date/time, the Vehicle Company and registration if possible. Ian Ledingham explained that the police have much fewer resources now and weight enforcement is not normally a priority, so Parish Councils should talk to their local PCSO to ask that this work become a priority during the next three months.

It was noted that the diversion signs were not all in place and those that were contained too much information to be read from a moving vehicle. Alan Etheridge/Helen Grainger explained that the start date for scheme has been delayed for the signs to go up so they will be in place before the work commences. They undertook to review the diversion signs with EA to make sure the information contained clearer and more prescriptive.
Action: Alan Etherdige/Helen Grainger to review diversion signs (with EA) to make sure the information contains clearer and more prescriptive information.

Councillor Sergison-Brooke asked that the Chipping Warden export site be informed and it was noted that the DIRFT site in Daventry also needs information to comply with the proposed diversions. Richard Harding/Alan Etheridge/Helen Grainger explained that normal highways diversion notification procedures meant that major transport firms were notified [for example, through British Haulage Association circulation lists], but agreed that they would review whether any further information needs to be circulated.
Action: Richard Harding/Alan Etheridge/Helen Grainger to check the list of businesses contacted about the road closure, and carry out further notifications as appropriate.

Goffe Taylor asked that speed checks be carried out between Aston le Walls and Boddington, and noted the weight limit and barriers on the railway bridge were missing.
Action: Alan Etheridge to contact AlWPC to inspect problem highway sites.

Jose Rowling from Culworth PC also noted a similar problem on Trafford Bridge between Culworth and Chipping Warden
Roger Bell from Chacombe PC said that speeding was already a problem. This raises another issue that the Road Casualty Reduction Partnership which ran this service had lost its funding in the recent spending cuts.
The equipment still exists but there is no funding for staff to operate it. Parish Councillors thought that use of Speed Interactive Devices (SID’s) would be useful particularly during the A361 road closure.
Action: Rosie Herring to raise this issue with the Community Safety Partnership

Helen Grainger confirmed that Highways Agency had agreed to activate the M40 signs.
Nigel Galletly – Chipping Warden suggested that signs should also go on M1 as this route was often used to link between M1 and M40.
Action: Alan Etheridge to speak to the Highways Agency re M1 signs.

Nigel Galletly also pointed out that there was a standard sign with a lorry to Cropredy. This existed to make lorries avoid Great Bourton but it could be confusing during the road closure. He suggested it should be changed to read “Cropredy only”.
Helen Grainger explained that the sign was of a prescribed style and could not be altered/replaced; but she would consider if a temporary supplementary could beinstalled.
Action: Helen Grainger to consider Cropredy sign issue.

There was a wider discussion about speeding issues and diversions. Rosie Herring asked if additional signs were identified as being needed whether the project could assist with funding. Richard Harding advised that this is a possibility.
Action: Richard Harding/Alan Etheridge/Helen Grainger to consider need for additional signage, and if necessary EA project funding.
Action: Ian Ledingham will speak to colleagues in Thames Valley police about speeding issues.

Cllr Sergison-Brooke asked if a one way system through the villages had been considered. Helen Grainger advised that there was not time to implement such a scheme for this closure as the closure order took 8 weeks to process but it could be considered for the future – flooding etc if requested by the villages concerned. It may be looked at after this closure under lessons learned for the future.

Roger Bell – Chacombe, noted that the condition of some of the rural roads is already poor after the winter and more traffic could make matters worse. Alan Etheridge stated that NCC engineers are doing a visual inspection and statement of the roads. They will monitor any deterioration and arrange for any remedial works necessary.

It was asked if there was a ‘Plan B’ if the project overruns and the A361 still closed for the Grand Prix weekend. This was considered unlikely but it will need to be factored in as a risk.
Action: Steven Shuttleworth to report to the Silverstone Implementation Group team.

Communications

Leaflets have been distributed to affected villages
There will be a single number for comments or problems arising during the work which will be 07729-448062

A web site will report progress of the scheme, with frequent updates:
http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/124750.aspx

Much of the communications had already been done. Various suggestions arose from discussion, to be actioned as follows:
Actions:
Richard Harding/Alan Etheridge/Helen Grainger to contact local Equestrian Associations and Ramblers Associations.
Parish Councils to alert local residents through their Parish magazines
Rosie Herring to check that local schools have been alerted.

Follow-Up

It was agreed that two further meetings should be held. The first should be soon after the start of the closure to deal with any problems that have arisen. It was agreed that this needed to be timed around the availability of the key agency personnel [ie Barry Russell/Richard Harding/Alan Etheridge/Helen Grainger/Mike Horton], and other attendees would have to arrange substitutes as necessary.
There would also need to be a final meeting after completion of the works to record any lessons for the future.
Actions:
Steven Shuttleworth to organise next meeting.
Richard Harding to organise ‘project closure’ meeting.

Next Meeting: Friday 8th April 10.00 am, Chapel School Room