THERE is a perception that Hedon Town Council like most parish councils is all about ‘the little issues’ in an area; ‘the dog muck and grass cutting brigade’. There is nothing wrong with that – local councils need to constantly address such issues – and dog fouling is arguably by far the most complained about issue in our neighbourhoods! However, the real strength of local councils is when they bring local knowledge and imagination to bear on the bigger issues. The issue of parking and transport is one such issue.
At Hedon Town Council meeting last night the regular issue of parking and transport issues in the town were discussed once again – but there did seem to be a new added factor introduced into the discussion, summed up by Councillor Terry West in regard to proposals to develop the old railway station for new car parking facilities: “We’ve got to ‘think big’,” he argued, “rather than tinker about at the edges, we should back a proposal that is going to make a significant difference to parking in the area.”
Councillor West was commenting on ideas he originally raised that the land formerly part of the old railway station, the front of which is currently used as a small car park, could be developed as a much larger facility.
Early discussions between the Hedon council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council who own the station land, considered ideas that would increase the number of car parking spaces there by a few, or bigger projects creating up to 34 new spaces. And Councillor West firmly believes that the council should be ambitious in its intentions, arguing that over 30 new spaces could offer full-day parking away from the town centre and yet is only a short walk away. This would reduce pressure on town centre parking.
Ward Councillor Mike Bryan explained that the East Riding Council would ultimately decide on any such project and would design and implement the best solution based upon the funding available, but Hedon Town Council would be expected to make a financial contribution too. That financial contribution would come from the town’s precept i.e. from funds raised by the local council tax contribution that Hedon residents pay. Discussions are ongoing.
Cllr. West was not the only councillor ‘thinking big’ at the meeting. Councillor Steve Gallant has been designated as the Hedon Town Council’s new Transport Champion and as such will liaise with the East Riding Council on its parish transport toolkit. The toolkit, explained at last night’s meeting by invited ward Councillor Sue Steel, is designed to help local communities identify their unmet transport needs and look at solutions for meeting those needs. In an idea, initially explored just for Hedon in 2014, Councillor Gallant suggested the council investigates feasibility of an externally funded, ward-wide local transport solution aimed at reducing the local vehicles travelling into Hedon from the surrounding villages. This would involve encouraging drivers from Paull, Preston, Thorngumbald and perhaps Burstwick, to leave their cars at home when travelling to Hedon and use a locally provided transport service instead.
Another ‘think big’ idea from Councillor Gallant was to place on the general political agenda the need for a new Hedon/Preston bypass being constructed to take traffic away from travelling through Hedon and Preston. Whilst not a new idea it is certainly not being actively considered at the moment.
Imagining solutions to problems would seem to be an essential requisite for a politician. After all, the existing Hedon bypass will have started off as ‘an idea’ over 25 years ago. Of course the real skill is realising those solutions and breaking down a major project into what can be done now, in preparation for what needs to be done later.
Note: This article is based on notes made whilst attending the meeting of Hedon Town Council. It is not a record of any decisions made by the council, but merely interpretation of the discussion that took place.