Discussion took place on the following local issues which were reported by representatives of the Parish and Town Councils:-
(1) Laughton Common – vehicle speed and street cleansing
The representatives of Thurcroft Parish Council expressed concerns about excessive vehicle speeds along the B6060 highway through Laughton Common. They mentioned the particular dangers of the hump-backed bridge over the railway line at Laughton Common Road and Station Road, near to the junction with Station Way.
Reference was also made to the need for street cleansing to be undertaken more frequently in this area.
The Borough Council representatives replied that (a) the concerns about vehicle speed would be examined in detail; and (b) street cleansing was undertaken in accordance with the Borough Council’s approved schedule for rural areas.
(2) Vehicle Speeds through small villages
The representatives of Ravenfield Parish Council referred to the updating of Government circular 1/93 entitled “Setting Local Speed Limits”. They asked whether the Borough Council intended to introduce a policy which would ensure that a maximum vehicle speed limit of 30 mph was introduced in all villages in the Rotherham Borough area.
The Borough Council representatives replied that all areas of the Borough were being examined in turn and local road safety schemes were being implemented where necessary. The particular nature of any individual highway and area of roads was specifically examined and, as such, there was no overall policy relating to vehicle speed limits in villages. Highway Authorities had to take account of relevant guidance from Central Government in respect of these local schemes, including the circular mentioned by the Ravenfield Parish Council representatives. The Borough Council was required to consult the South Yorkshire Police when implementing changes to vehicle speed limits on any highway. It was sometimes the case that the Police would not agree with the proposals of the Highway Authority. There were also limitations imposed by the availability of Local Transport Plan funding.
Reference was made to the apparently limited effectiveness of vehicle speed notification signs. There seemed to be a trend of local drivers choosing to ignore these notification signs only a few months after the signs had been installed.
(3) Applications for Planning Permission and Enforcement of Conditions
The representatives of Anston Parish Council asked about the Borough Council’s policies and procedures for granting planning permission and for enforcing the planning conditions of approved development.
The Borough Council representatives referred to the scheme of delegation whereby 90% of applications for planning permission were determined by Officers, sometimes in consultation with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Planning Board. The Planning Board itself would determine the applications for larger and more complicated development. This scheme of delegation was currently being reviewed and a new arrangement had recently been introduced, whereby any application for which five or more objections were received would automatically be reported to the Planning Board for determination.
The Borough Council representatives also referred to the arrangements for the enforcement of planning conditions attached to permissions for development. The relative limitation of staffing resources had led to the use of a priority system of responding to complaints about development. Whenever possible, complaints would be settled amicably. There was usually a protracted period for issuing statutory notices whenever enforcement action was being taken against a developer. The Local Planning Authority did rely, to a certain extent, on members of the public reporting possible breaches of planning conditions.
(4) Notification to Parish Councils of Highway Works
A representative of Catcliffe Parish Council referred to the Borough Council and Parish Councils seminar, held at Rotherham Town Hall on Saturday, 29th January, 2005, when it had been agreed that Parish Councils would be notified in advance of any highway works taking place in their areas. There had been a recent example in Catcliffe, where roads had been closed temporarily because of highway drainage works.
The Borough Council representatives agreed that Parish Councils should be notified in advance of this type of highway scheme and, wherever possible, such notification could be made by electronic mail message to Parish Clerks.
(5) Whiston Conservation Area – the traditional red telephone kiosk
A representative of Whiston Parish Council referred to the intention of British Telecom to remove the traditional red telephone kiosk from its location within the Whiston Conservation Area. British Telecom had stated that a modern telephone kiosk would be provided in its place. Whiston Parish Council asked the Borough Council to support its campaign to retain the traditional kiosk. The Parish Council’s opinion was that it was important to retain this type of traditional structure within a Conservation Area.
It was agreed that the Borough Council’s Head of Planning and Transportation Service would send a letter to British Telecom, in support of Whiston Parish Council’s request to retain the traditional red telephone kiosk.
(6) A631 West Bawtry Road and East Bawtry Road, Whiston
A representative of Whiston Parish Council referred to the proposed construction of a dual carriageway along the A631 West Bawtry Road at Whiston and asked the Borough Council to retain the original, stone mile posts along this length of road. Alternatively, the Parish Council would like these mile posts moved to a new location adjacent to the Manorial Barn, Whiston.
The Borough Council representatives agreed to investigate whether the mile posts had listed development status.
(7) Housing – Sheltered Homes Schemes
A representative of Whiston Parish Council referred to the proposed closure of some of the Borough Council’s sheltered homes. The Borough Council representatives replied that this issue was outside the scope of this liaison meeting and the Parish Council’s concerns should be raised with the Borough Council’s Neighbourhood Services.
(8) Advertisement Signs in the Highway
A representative of Thurcroft Parish Council referred to the proliferation of advertising signs in and adjacent to the highway.
The Borough Council representatives replied that the use and placing of advertisement signs were regulated by the Control of Advertisement Regulations 1992. The Local Planning Authority would utilise its enforcement powers to remove any advertisement signs which had been erected without consent, again by using a system of prioritising the most serious breaches of the Regulations. When considering enforcement action, local planning authorities could take into consideration issues of public safety and of amenity, but in development control terms could not take any action in respect of the wording included on advertisements signs.
The Borough Council was currently taking enforcement action against the company responsible for the erection of certain advertisement signs adjacent to the local motorways and other major roads.