Road safety project fails to provide safe routes to schools – says community council

- Environment

Liz Bradfield

by Liz Bradfield - GEM Local Democracy Reporter

A community council in Bridgend has accused the local authority of misleading it after discovering a successful bid for a major road safety funding project only involved “a tiny part” of their proposals.

Coity Higher Community Council’s chairman Martin Williams said its Safer Routes to Schools bid had included funding requests for pavements, multiple safe crossing points, and speed signs to help develop safe routes to the two primary schools within Coety and Litchard.

The council were assured the bid had been submitted to the Welsh Government and were thrilled when funding was announced, according to Cllr Williams.

He said: “We were assured by by Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) officers that the funding was for everything included within our document. It now appears BCBC only submitted two very small elements of it – and the £218,000 funding will only cover footpath enhancements to the rear of Litchard School and an extension to the existing footpath through Litchard playing fields.

“There is no funding for the pavements on Heol Spencer and Simonston, the multiple safe crossing points and speed signs through Coity Village, links from Parc Derwen to Litchard School or numerous crossing points, and interventions, in Litchard and Pendre.

“To say I am disappointed would be an extreme understatement. At no point were we told that only part of the bid would be submitted.”

He said the community council had been working on the bid for three years. Having been unsuccessful in 2017 for funding, it followed BCBC’s advice and refocused on on safe routes to schools, commissioning traffic speed and volume surveys in Coity village.

Cllr Williams said: “The understanding was that we would take our unsuccessful bid from 2017 and amend in line with feedback so that BCBC could resubmit a stronger document in December 2018.

“In a meeting earlier this month with BCBC officers they could offer no explanation for what has happened. While the schemes which have received funding formed part of our overall submission, and are valuable in their own right, there is no way we can support them while critical road safety interventions are not addressed.”

The community council held an extraordinary meeting on July 4 to discuss the issue. In a statement, the community council clerk said the council would be seeking an urgent meeting with BCBC’s leader and chief executive to “clarify how this happened”.

She said: “The council will also request that the proposed works are suspended until a way forward can be agreed to prioritise more urgent works within the plan.”

Cllr Williams said: “I am hopeful that a way forward can be found, even if it means re-prioritising the funding and resubmitting next year, but nothing is certain at this time.”

A BCBC spokesman said the local authority would continue to work on the remaining phases of the community access plan while preparing further funding bids.

He said: “As the overall cost of this is substantial the works are being completed in annual phases based on available Welsh Government grant funding. We are pleased that the latest phase has been fully approved by Welsh Government and will continue to work on remaining phases of the plan while preparing further funding bids.

“This includes Heol Spencer, where traffic surveys have been completed, but outstanding issues such as land ownership and consultation must still be resolved before any improvements can be introduced.”

Liz Bradfield

Local democracy reporter

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