24th Sep, 2018

LETTERS to Editor: Coun Jayne Innes misrepresenting inadequate bus gates tribunal rulings

LETTERS to the Editor, in latest Coventry Observer edition

Coventry’s roads (and bus gates) are in a mess and Coventry council highways and planning departments refuse to admit it. Cabinet member Jayne Innes refuses to admit it.

She is misrepresenting tribunal adjudicators’ findings by suggesting that the tribunal (which has upheld many motorists’ appeals against fines in bus gates) have only been throwing out fines on the basis that signage has been hidden by utility companies carrying out repairs.

The adjudicators have been throwing out fines on the basis of a lack of clear, adequate signage at all times, the lack or road markings indicating a bus gate and the fact that the bus gate signage itself is unclear.

The adjudicators have repeatedly asked the council to put signage on the central reservation as the junction is too wide for both signs to be seen. The adjudicators have also repeatedly commented on the fact the council have ignored pleas to do this. Pleas to put road markings indicating the bus gate have also fallen on deaf ears.

Therefore, surely the cabinet member realises that any claims suggesting that adjudicators have only thrown out fines based on signs hidden by utility companies is completely untrue?

The cabinet member is elected to represent the public, not to blindly support unelected officers who are responsible for the unclear, inadequate signage in the first place.

Given that Department for Transport, Traffic Penalty Tribunal and innumerable members of the public are telling Jayne Innes there are issues, why are these views less credible and valuable than that of a few council officers involved with the design and implementation of the bus gates themselves?

A small faction of unelected officers appear to be riding roughshod over legislation and due process, providing erroneous and misleading responses in the face of conclusive evidence from organisations such as Department for Transport, only to then “shut up shop”.

They refuse to substantiate the false responses and actually refuse to process requests for official reviews of the false responses.

Of course, one of the main purposes of these official reviews is to ensure that unelected council officers are not permitted to “mark their own homework”. No one should be the judge in their own cause, after all.

These very officers have been failing to act upon the repeated tribunal rulings for years. It also appears these officers did not even make cabinet members aware over the years of the repeated rulings of inadequacy.

To make matters worse, Coun Innes, appears to be “in awe” of the highways officers, and has not even commented regarding the fact that they had not even

informed her of the repeated tribunal rulings of unclear, inadequate signage.

We have unclear bus gates, even trapping senior Labour councillors themselves. We have unsigned, one-way junctions leading to the wrong side of the Ring Road. We have signs mounted at floor-level beneath menus outside of restaurants, so the signage is obscured more often than not by prospective customers standing perusing the menus. We have signs with both a left and right arrow.

We all want Coventry to look fantastic, however these signs are intended to be unsightly so people notice them. They aren’t intended to blend in with the street scene. De-cluttering is one thing, but dereliction of a statutory duty to safely and properly inform the public is an entirely different matter.

DfT, Highways England, Traffic Penalty Tribunal and Highways officers from councils up and down the country…they all say Coventry have these issues. However, Jayne Innes still claims there are no problems.

Richard Heneghan

Road safety campaigner

Coventry

With recent articles about the negative aspects of having an increased student population we must ensure a balanced approach.

It is absolutely right that Coventry welcome students to our city. Students provide a huge boost to a city’s economy as they spend their money in our cafes, bars, pubs, clubs and shops. We benefit on so many levels including those large number of students who use public transport. Most are intelligent and considerate people who volunteer in our communities.

But as a city we must recognise the need to house them correctly. Westwood ward currently has three possible applications in for student residential blocks and villages. One is located very sensibly and does not impact local residents in a negative way. But the other two will create more issues then they will solve.

I have opposed two of the applications, calling for affordable and family housing to be built on the land instead and have called on planning bosses in the city to reject any plans submitted for two of these student villages.

We do welcome students but we must ensure developers go back to the drawing board and come back with plans that are more acceptable to the local community before placing student villages or residential block in existing residential communities.

Tim Mayer

Coventry councillor (Westwood, Conservative)

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