Monday, 28 March 2016
The Brook Street Closure
I will admit that I enjoyed walking down the largely car-free Brook Street on Saturday and breathing in the fume-free air for once. Pollution has been a big problem down there for years due to traffic volume. However it is obvious that this closure is causing huge and unnecessary disruption to many.
The cost of closing Brook Street and replacing the mini-roundabout with traffic lights is £440,000. That is £440,000 of council tax payers' money. Imagine it flowing down a drain... I know that may be hard given how so many of our drains are blocked due to failure to maintain them. It won't make any difference at all to Colchester's traffic congestion, however the weeks of disruption ahead will at least allow Rodney Bass to appear to be doing something.
To solve congestion will be a long process and must involve schemes to introduce more cycling lanes and to encourage car sharing. We need to ensure that our roads aren't full of potholes so that the traffic can flow more easily.
Essex County Council currently has £70 million to spend on roads, yet Ipswich Road is full of potholes and Mr Bass is wasting chunks of the money on hare-brained schemes like this Brook St fiasco instead of putting more cycle lanes in.
Just getting a few drivers to car share or cycle would make a huge difference.
Just a 1% reduction in car use would lead to an 18% reduction in journey times.
We need an air quality strategy in Colchester and that should start with forcing the 8 bus companies to use cleaner buses. Buses also need to become more reliable and to be staffed by friendly drivers if we are to entice more people onto them. Which is why we need national regulation of buses.
In the mean time, the Borough Council does have the power to use Section 106 money (the bonus it received for building all its new houses) to pay for the conversion of old polluting buses into cleaner ones. It should do so.
It is wrong for the upkeep of our roads to be in the hands of people who don't live and work in Colchester. Therefore we must campaign for our roads to be controlled by the borough council rather than at county level. In the mean time, I suggest that Brook Street be renamed Rodney Street in Mr Bass' honour. Gven that we are all well and truly up Rodney Street until control of our roads is returned to the borough.