Figures published by East Sussex County Council relating to congestion in Uckfield High Street were challenged at a meeting of the Uckfield Town Centre Regeneration Joint Committee yesterday.
Wealden district councillor Michael Lunn said it was ‘untrue’ that 28,000 vehicle movements travelled through the High Street. He argued that the figure, which was used to justify the removal of on-street car parking, related to all traffic in the area.
Regeneration committee chairman Cllr Mick Harker responded, at the meeting which was held at Uckfield Civic Centre yesterday, saying that two sets of figures had been added together, when they shouldn’t have been, to make the 28,000 quoted.
He said those figures came from a 12-hour, two-way count of traffic carried out in April 2014 which showed that 13,414 vehicles travelled north from the Bell Lane junction and 14,181, travelled south from there.
He stressed that the correct numbers had been used in the development of the highway improvement scheme.
Cllr Lunn went on to query projected peak-time travel figures given by the regeneration committee which suggested congestion would increase in the High Street by around 132 per cent by 2027 and vehicle queue lengths would increase by 360 per cent.
Cllr Lunn argued the increase was more likely to be in the region of a 15.6% increase in traffic loads through the High Street at peak times, not 132%.
“Could Cllr Harker explain to the public of Uckfield and surrounding villages how he can justify such scaremongering statements which are clearly unsubstantiated and without foundation,” he asked.
Cllr Harker, who described Cllr Lunn’s comments as “mumbo jumbo” said: “At the end of the day we have to rely on people that have the expertise to work out these figures.”
He added that you only had to motor down Uckfield High Street to see it was congested and, whether the increase was 132% or 131%, more houses would create more traffic.
He asked Cllr Lunn to supply the information from his question so that it could be investigated.
Why the results of parking poll weren’t binding
Cllr Lunn asked why the regeneration joint committee could not legally accept the findings of the parking poll.
Cllr Harker said that was because the poll was held by Uckfield Town Council under the terms of Section 12 of the Local Government Act 1972 which clearly stated the results of any poll could only be advisory.
However, Cllr Harker said, the feedback of residents was being taken on board, along with that of people holding the opposite view. The aim was to put together a collective view for the good of the town.
Earlier in the meeting Nigel Hannam, Wealden director of environment and community services confirmed a review of proposals for Stage 2 of works between Bell Lane and Church Street would look at items listed previously in this Uckfield News story: Board continues review of Uckfield improvement works.
Group gives feedback on communications
A ‘reference group’ has been set up to give feedback to the Uckfield Town Centre Regeneration Joint Committee about its communications.
Seven people were invited to join and four have accepted the invitation. They are Tom Crellin and Jack Dopson, both businessmen; Richard Judge, chairman of the Uckfield Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and Nick Johnston a local resident.
Peter Griggs, programme support manager, for the regeneration committee said that the reference group had met for the first time, and had a very useful discussion about its aims and the understanding the group had of the project and about how communications information could be improved.
Regeneration committee excludes public from meeting
Members of the public were excluded towards the end of the joint committee meeting while it discussed the procurement process and next steps to follow for redevelopment of the town centre.
The reason given for the exclusion was “that publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest due to the commercially sensitive nature of the information being discussed”.
* The regeneration joint committee is comprised of members of Uckfield Town, Wealden District and East Sussex County councils to “enable the sensitive redevelopment and expansion of Uckfield town centre” and to provide a single point of approval and contact for the regeneration project to “ensure timely decisions and effective management of the procurement and implementation”.
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