Campaign News

January 2010

We have been invited to a BRAKE reception at the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 19th to thank its main fundraisers throughout 2009 – we have raised almost £3000 so far for BRAKE. Other funds have been set aside for memorials and publicity. However the main news is that whilst Sue is at Westminster, she had asked Dave Watts MP if he could arrange a meeting with a cabinet minister, and he has managed to do this – just prior to the reception we are meeting Paul Clark Parliamentary (Under) Secretary of State for transport with the aim of raising his awareness of the dangers at the crossing and to see if he can influence the flow of funding in our direction. At the very least the meeting will highlight the inadequacies of safety measures at Windle Island, and the fact that the percentage of killed and seriously injured on our roads actually rose in St Helens in 2008.

November 2009

At the last ward committee meeting in Rainford, George Houghton agreed that the council were in favour of implementing the recommendations of AECOM, an independent traffic consultant taken on to review the layout and operation of the traffic signals as well as its road safety implications, and also to review the overall operational capacity. The complete project will incorporate major traffic flow changes and include controlled pedestrian crossings, but is subject to obtaining external funding contributions, which so far have been unsuccessful. Vehicle activated signs are scheduled to be installed on the A580 in late January 2010 – these are to be larger than those elsewhere in the borough due to the safety issues here. It was also stated that more wire and post fencing would be used nearer to the road itself ‘ when resources permit.’ So there is an admission that the necessary measures are insufficient, but due to budget constraints nothing so far has been done ( as of Jan 17TH 2010) apart from closing the gaps in the hedges just after George was killed, but which should have been done AND MAINTAINED after the last fatality there in 1999.

Also approved was a memorial bench for George site to be decided but probably near to the crossing to act as a reminder to pedestrians.

3rd March 2009

I’m on the scrounge, again..John, and I are running the 10K BUPA run in Manchester on 17th May for Brake, the road safety charity, in George’s memory (He would have been 18 exactly one week later), and we would be very very grateful if you could spare any sponsor money. I know many of you have all contributed to our campaign so this is extra but it is a good cause!!!!!! And it goes directly to Brake.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you please visit Sue xxxx

10th February

Thanks to all the latest signatures received – every one will help our cause. We have just distributed more flyers and bookmarks (with the fantastic help of Joanna at the Connections Magazine) and more posters (thanks to Neil at Northern Sign) around the Windle, Eccleston and Rainford areas to remind everyone that the campaign is still ongoing and that we need your support. We need to keep a high profile to let the council know that we will not give up and George Houghton from St Helens Highways/ Engineering Department has finally committed to giving us a decision by the end of March 09 as to what will happen at Windle Island (fingers crossed.

In the meantime we are planning a few fund raising events to help us with promotion and publicity material, details of which will be posted soon if anyone would like to get involved – let’s hope that it will not be needed to actually pay for the pedestrian crossings themselves. Surely Community Safety is more important than Culture, Sports and Heritage although apparently not, according to the latest proposed budget figures!

Depending on the outcome of the Council’s decision, one proposal is that we get an action group together to campaign for the A580 – some of you may have heard about the tragic death of Katie Gallagher, aged 14, last month on the A580 in similar circumstances to George. Support from those who knew Jamie Eckley and Yasmin Carney who died in on the A580 in 1999 and 2006 respectively is also strong. If we are fortunate enough to be told that controlled pedestrian crossings will be installed any excess funds will be donated to Brake the road safety charity that is calling for much more from the UK Government to protect children on foot and bicycles. These measures require investment, but as well as preventing tragedies that devastate families, the Government estimates that the saving to society of preventing just one road death is 1.4 million. St Helens Council is proposing to spend more on arts and heritage in the next financial year than our safety. Local councillors seem equally uninterested, but these are the issues that matter to local people, not spending an obscene amount on an ugly monuments, (e.g. ’The Dream’) when there are so many other needy causes. Who decides?

Research commissioned by the DfT found that countries with the lowest child pedestrian fatality rates have legislation in place meaning drivers are automatically responsible for any crash involving a child pedestrian or cyclist under civil law. Should this legislation be in place in the UK? Should there also be appropriately severe penalties for speeding in built–up areas where children are likely to be out and about on foot and bicycles?

From Brake’s website: - ’The violent, sudden death of a child or young person in a road crash devastates families, friends and communities. Traffic is one of the biggest killers of children and young people. In fact, it is the biggest killer of 15–19 year–olds, and the second biggest killer of children aged 5–14, after cancer. Every week, 53 children are killed or seriously injured on foot and bicycles’. That’s more than 7 a day – they need as much protection as possible – is this too much to ask?

23rd December 2008

A meeting was held between Sue and John Faulkner and St Helens Council Highways Department on Thursday 11th November to discuss the report published as a result of the recent independent traffic survey at Windle Island.

The report highlighted the dangers at the Junction, although only surveyed the traffic and pedestrian flow on a weekday up to 6pm, and on a Saturday between 12 noon and 3pm. It was noted that nothing was observed after 6pm, when there was likely to more of an issue with street lighting/shadows and the fact that the traffic lights sequence alters to that during the day. The flow of pedestrian traffic from Moss Lane Rugby Club during the evening was totally ignored, when there would be an increase in vulnerable pedestrian numbers.

The report cited that there had been 28 incidents, 4 serious in the last 3 years – the last fatality was not included in these figures. A number of options were put forward, which were then categorised by a ratio figure calculated by comparing the overall cost expenditure to the cost savings of a life. Option 1, at £35,000 proposing barriers, flood control, and pedestrian markings was the only one that met the required figure that would be automatically considered for implementation. On the other hand Option 4, for controlled pedestrian crossings was in fact deemed to save the most lives, but at £189,000 came below the required figure – in short the Council may not opt to spend £189,000 even though it is suggested by the Traffic Surveyors that implementation would save at least 3 lives.

The council now has to invite the surveyors back to carry out feasibility studies on each option and George Houghton from the Council has said that Option 4 may be implemented if they deem this to be the best outcome even if it does not meet the required costings ratio. It was thought that any recommendations may be held up by the inquest, which is being delayed by the staff shortage within the Coroner’s Office. However we have been in touch with the Mr Sumner the Chief Coroner and Mr Bernard Hogan Howe, the Chief of Police to try and speed up the inquest process but we have now received a letter from the Coroner informing us that he believes that there is no need to wait for the outcome of any inquest given the past accidents which he has already investigated. Unfortunately the Senior Investigating Officer has still not returned the RTC file even though we have been told that all the evidence, and witness statements have been collected.

Therefore in view of the need to keep the pressure on the council we implore everyone to sign our on line petition We will be continuing with our publicity campaign to keep the issue in the public profile and to warn everyone about the dangers of crossing windle island junction. Please help us to achieve our objective and to save lives.

23rd November 2008

Further to our meeting with the Coroner’s office at Whiston last Wednesday, we have been told that the date of the inquest could be as late as next October. This is due to staff shortages at the Coroner’s office – they have 66 inquests to review before George’s and believe that with an additional 2 members of staff they could catch up with the backlog. Not only does this delay add unnecessary stress to ourselves, but I am also fearful that the council may not implement recommendations suggested by the traffic surveyors if they have not heard the results of the inquest. I have written to the Chief of Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe and the chief Coroner, Mr Sumner to ask what they can do to rectify the situation, and would be grateful if anyone has any other suggestions.

There have also been some unkind suggestions from a small sector of the community (unknown to us but have filtered through) that George may have been over the alcohol limit, when he died. I can confirm from the Post Mortem report that he was not drunk, and did not have any other illegal substances in his bloodstream.

I had a meeting with Road Safety Officers at the Council on Friday 23rd to see what support they could give us in making teenagers in particular, more aware of the dangers of crossing at Windle Island, and also to see if we can publicise this together with our campaign on public transport, and in colleges etc. They are finding out what restrictions there may be in erecting banners/posters etc, but we are planning to send flyers out locally to continue getting support for our petition.

17th November 2008

spoken with the council today, and they are now telling me that they expect a report back from the Traffic Surveyors within 3 weeks, rather than 3 months with a view to specific action regarding a pedestrian crossing. Other issues, at the junction such as the Bleak Hill and Crank junctions will then be looked at separately in the New Year, so fingers crossed for some positive news before the end of 2008. I’ve also got a meeting with Road Safety Officers on Friday 21st to look at putting banners and posters up in pertinent positions, and they will hopefully be able to update me again. However we still need to keep the pressure on, to get any action that is recommended done quickly, so keep on asking as many people as you can to sign our petition.

12th November 2008

I spoke with the council again on Friday, 7th November, and they will be meeting with the company who will be carrying out the traffic survey on Monday 10th November. I have asked that we are given interim reports, with set milestones, so that they can report back on particular issues sooner, rather than waiting until the end of January which is when the final report is due.

I am confident that provided we keep the pressure on, the necessary action will be taken, and will not give up until we have the right result.

Thanks again to everyone who has signed - we may have a long way to go yet.

Thank you all for signing this petition if you could help by passing the word to school friends and colleagues to encourage EVERYONE TO SIGN THE PETITION.

Volunteers Welcome!!

We are asking for any volunteers that could help us in anyway at all with regards
To the following;

We are planning to print posters and flyers, and looking for volunteers to Distribute /attach them outdoors and in businesses & shops.

We are also taking the petition round so that people without internet access can sign - again any volunteers for this would be welcomed, or if anyone could put the posters / petition up on their work notice board that would be great.

Also if anyone has any contacts with the local transport to see if we could use the buses as a way of getting the message across, or if anyone has any knowledge of which companies to contact for bill posters etc then please let me know.

Please contact Sue by e mail or mobile 07976 357063 if you can help.