Thursday, 20 March 2008


Tuesday evening's monthly Cabinet meeting returned to its usual lacklustre self after the relative excitement of the budget period. Stepping in at the last minute for our leader, I collected a massive stack of papers several inches thick from my over-burdened pigeon hole. No way could I get through that lot, so I picked out a couple of papers from my areas of interest.

The first was on Climate Change, where a plan, full of good intentions but woefully short of real meat, has been produced and will be discussed with stakeholders across the Borough before feeding into the sub-regional strategy. I urged Cabinet to go beyond the Government's targets of a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, especially in the light of the recent Tyndall Centre report that, even if this target were to be achieved, global temperatures would rise by some 4 to 5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, against a target of 2 degrees. I pointed out that Hilary Benn has asked his Climate Change review group to investigate whether Government should be toughening up its target to an 80% reduction.

Veronica Copeland said she would be working hard to ensure the achievement of current targets and would see if there was any way these targets could be bettered. I'm afraid good intentions just don't cut the mustard. Hard, scientifically-based proposals which will require tough decision making is what's needed. One thing's for certain, if the Cabinet are brave enough to take the decisions which are needed, we'll support them. Thus far, I see little evidence that the political will is there.
Also somewhat off-putting was the vigorous headshaking from the Conservative member, who does not, it appears, accept that climate change is anything more than a natural cyclical re-adjustment in the earth's temperature.

My other contribution, which, as usual, was greeted by much heavenward eye-rolling from Labour members, was on the transport report in which I noticed that, although as a town we are making good progress on reducing car usage and increasing both walking and cycling - statistics to which I personally contribute as a born-again cyclist - our strategy is being undermined by an increase in the number of cars entering the borough from outside.

I asked what action could be taken to reduce the flow of traffic from outside, especially since, if the new shopping centre is built, we can expect even more cars from outside the borough. I didn't get an answer in the meeting, though the officer responsible was kind enough to talk to me about his ideas afterwards.

I must say, it is rather worrying that every time I hop on my super Marin I am apparently in mortal danger of being mown down by a 4x4 from North Yorkshire. Something needs to be done about this. Man the barricades, I say.


Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes...

Park and ride is perhaps one of the solutions. It's been talked about for some time. Has there been any progress? Where could the cars be parked?

Aeres said...

I'm pretty certain that a large part of the traffic problems in the North end of town are due to the amount of traffic that has to go through Darlington to cross from the A1 to the A66 and vice-versa.

What the answer could be to that however is something that I can't really answer. The "obvious" solution of completing the outer ringroad loop around the town would be environmentally ruinous to the Ketton area. I emailed Nick Wallis about it a few years ago when he had the transport portfolio and we pretty much concluded that although there was a problem there wasn't much in practical terms that could be done.

My father still insists that the A1 should've been built to the East of the town rather than the West. Whilst I'm not sure of the issues regarding this it's quite interesting to mull over how Darlington would be different today if that had been the case.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes...

Aeres. You are right. I live right in the middle of the link between the A1 and A66 just off Salter's Land and Whinfield Road and it's hellish between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on a weekday. Interestingly though it is not so bad when the schools are on holiday.

I wrote to Nick when it was taking me over 20 minutes to get from my house to the Great Burdon roundabout when it normally used to take 10 minutes. I received the same reply as you. It would cost the earth to built the link, which in the current financial climate makes it impossible.

Whinfield Road and Salter's Lane are unsuitable for heavy lorries. Perhaps the answer is to write to hauliers not to use this road as a cut through between the A66 and A1 or impose a weight restriction.

I fear there will be an accident on the tiny roundabout where the road from Thompson Street East oins Whinfield Road. I have seen lorries negotiate that roundabout at speed and at an angle and nearly tip over.

Aeres said...

Hi Alan,

Yes, I've done the commute to Teesside from Harrowgate Hill for nearly a decade now so I've seen it all too.

Another horrendously dangerous situation at that mini-roundabout is where traffic is stood still and the cars from the Thompson Street side decide to go anyway and 'straddle' the roundabout itself. Sooner or later one of your aformentioned lorries will go straight into the side of one of these cars and the consequences aren't worth thinking about. Such a risk just to ensure they're in front of the car from the Salters Lane side - absolute madness!

Your idea sounds great in theory, although I'm not sure if there's a viable alternative for the HGV's. I'm not even sure if they could use the junction which would take them around the bypass as I think (although might be wrong) that it's restricted access going South on the A1?

You are right about it being quieter during school holidays though. Maybe a lot of the congention lies in this area instead.

I long for the day when I can hop on a tram or go along a cycle path to my place of work in Thornaby - although I think both options are some way away yet...

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

Aeres I have seen traffic from Thompson Street straddling the mini roundabout as well.

The new housing development on Glebe Road when it is occupied will add to the misery on Salter's Lane and Whinfield Road.

As far as the school run is concerned the new Admissions Code which the Government has enacted has unwittingly added to the congestion on the roads.

In the name of giving the opportunity to all children to go to a good school some children who live close to their nearest school and should go to that school if their parents want them to, have been forced to go outside their area to school and how to they get there - yes by car.

miketually said...

Trucks from the A66 could use the bypass to go to junction 57 of the motorway, instead of coming through town if a weight limit were imposed.

There are lots of kids from Harrowgate Hill coming to Whinfield school, I believe, because Harrowgate Hill school is oversubscribed. It is possible to get there by bike using Green Lane and Sparrowhall Drive. It could even be faster than going by car.

Aeres said...

That's true Mike. The point I was making though was that they wouldn't be able to do the reverse journey because you can only get onto the bypass from the A1 if you're heading North.

Ermm...I think that's right anyway..!