We’re often critical of things other people have done or are doing.
This week, we’re sticking out neck out with two suggestions for problems that have been aired. Feel free to contribute. They are difficult situations, which is why they’ve been around for yonks.
One is the A34 at the bottom of Astbury village. It is the scene of regular, serious accidents and there was another this week. It’s a miracle there’s not been a fatal.
Just to declare an interest, this writer was knocked off his bicycle by a car there, and has not really been on a bike since. While I wouldn’t say I had sympathy for the guy who ran me down, it can be a mentally demanding junction.
At busy times, it probably has the same effect on your brain as using a mobile phone while driving after three pints of lager.
You can, say, be in the filter lane in front of Astbury Garage turning right up the village. There are cars going down the A34 each side of you. There are cars going up and down the road you’re trying to turn into. There are two lanes of cars at the other side of the village green and there may be a car in the other filter lane in front of you.
That means you’re watching cars going in seven different directions.
Counting your own vehicle, your brain is processing the movements of eight vehicles. Nine if someone is pulling out of the cemetery.
The poor bloke on a bike, the 10th vehicle on the road, has no chance.
Two solutions are probably out — a roundabout or traffic lights. Costly, and it’s too picturesque a village green to be dug up for a roundabout.
You could prevent people turning right if they’re on the left of the green (ie the Astbury Garage side of the green), but, as with the speed limit that’s in place now, enforcement is the issue.
So how about some severe traffic calming? A couple of warning signs to slow cars down, then narrow the road in both directions, with dragon’s teeth markings opposite the garage and the Egerton Arms’ driveway. Pave the road in the style of a pedestrianised area. Perhaps plant some trees in what is now the middle of the road. Make it impossible for cars to go at any speed.
That would force everyone to slow right down; that in itself might mean people don’t use both sides of the green to turn towards Congleton.
Aside from cost, the only problem we can think of is the wide loads that come that way.
As we say, it’s a miracle no-one has been killed: we won’t be that lucky forever.
Dog poo is the other issue. People periodically complain and it all kicks off but then it dies down and nothing is done. Until it all kicks off again.
Enforcement is the issue: at the end of the day, someone has to grass up a dog owner and report them to the authorities. People are not always willing to do this. The council warden can only be in so many places at once.
We reckon the answer is to make bad owners of dogs feel that they are being watched.
Our solution would be DogWatch. Congleton Town Council could pay for some nice signs in the style of Neighbourhood Watch, and residents could put these up on lampposts. There is special high-vis spray that can be sprayed on dog poo, again making it look as if the streets are being watched. Perhaps a warning sign or two could be stencilled on the pavement.
Then all you need is people to keep an eye open for miscreants. Perhaps the PCSOs or community wardens can be drafted in to speak to anyone whose dog is spotted fouling the pavement; perhaps it will be necessary for a DogWatch group to take someone to court before the message will start to get through.
Discussing this on social media, a lot of people support some kind of measure but others complain that dog mess on the footpath is a minor issue when compared to drugs or other street crime. They also complain that it’s wrong for neighbours to snoop on people and take them to court.
We’d argue that community pride can never be bad, and that people can already take pavement foulers to court. The aim of the DogWatch group (or whatever it would be called) would be to report foulers as a group, meaning no one person has to make the complaint and stick their head above the parapet.