This Month from the Archive – Traffic a perennial problem.

CHILD OKEFORD ARCHIVE- No new thing under the sun.

Traffic !

Child Okeford Parish Council Minutes: Roads and Traffic: Part 1

In January we looked back to 1895 and the very first parish council meeting. These meetings were held 3 times a year plus an annual general meeting. While the actual months varied this was the format until 1969 albeit an increasing number of special meetings were also held. In the regular council meeting held on 3rd December 1969 it was agreed “in future Council Meetings would be held on the first Wednesday on each month”.

In the early years much time was spent on the management and maintenance of the allotments. This was no small task. There were over 50 allotment holders who required the paths, hedges, gates, water pumps to be kept in good order and the council was responsible to arrange the annual supply of coal and, most important, to ensure collection of the rents.

The other major issue of those early days was traffic and the maintenance of the roads. The first recorded issue was in January 1901 when “the clerk was requested to write to the District Council ……. having regard to the very heavy traffic in Hayward Lane this council are of opinion that it is absolutely necessary this Road should be widened”. Discussions continued throughout and included consideration on which was the main road “either the Road Passing The Union Arms (Station Road) or by The Road Passing Child Okeford House (Hayward Lane) the residence of Miss Dennison”. It was decided “the main road is that by Miss Dennison”. After much campaigning the solution was to restructure the bridge.

More gnashing of teeth in 1907 when a letter was sent by the clerk to Viscount Portman “to call the attention of your board to the great damage done to our Roads by the practice of dragging chain harrows over them” and in 1908 “the County Council to forthwith widen the beforementioned Road it being the only means of access to Shillingstone.” We can find no record of the responses and all was quiet until November 1917 when the clerk was requested to write to the Surveyor of Highways regarding the “state of the Main Road near to Sandy Lane and Nicholls Coppice and inform in consequence of the increased motor and heavy lorry passing and repassing at this particular place”. It is pleasing to report that by January 1918 the repairs had been carried “to The Councils satisfaction”.

Moving on to the 1960’s, in October 1962 we read “The junction of the Shaftesbury and Gillingham roads near the cross was becoming increasingly dangerous and the clerk was requested to write to the Divisional Surveyor …. if anything could be done to indicate who should give way. It was suggested a broken white line across the exit from the Common Road would give the right of way to the traffic coming from the Gold Hill direction”. In reply, the Divisional Surveyor replied he thought “any broken white line should be across the road leading to Gold Hill”. And there this particular matter seemed to end…………….until 1965!

We shall carry on with this topic next month.

 

STURMINSTER RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL

Note of a MEETING held at the School, Child

Okeford 26.8.65 regarding Traffic Conditions in

the parish

PRESENT: Mr. R. Saunders – County Surveyor

Mr. D. E. Spencer – Divisional Surveyor

Mr. Ingram Spencer – Sturminster R.D.C. (Hanford)

Cmdr. H.E.Seaman R.N.- Sturminster R.D.C. (Also rep. N. Roads & Bridges)

Miss V. N. Cross – County Council (Also rep. Sturminster R.D.C.)

Mrs. A. W. Hughes – Sturminster R.D.C. (Hammoon)

Mr. L. Ridout – Sturminster R.D.C.

Mr. W. R. A Litten

Rev. Dr. R. Taylor – Parochial Church Council

Mrs. M. A. Davies ) – Women’s Institute

Mrs. E. L Shepherd)

Mr. A. McDonald) – Parish Council

Mr. H. A. Rigg )

Ch. Insp. I. Coltart – Police

Mrs. J. Rose – County Council

Mr. A. H. Lewis – Sturminster R.D.C.

Mr. J. E. G. Harris – Sturminster R.D.C. (Clerk)

APOLOGIES: Apologies for absence were received from

Mr. W. G. Bailey, J.P., and Mr. R. Cooper

The Chairman (Mr. A. H. Lewis) invited the Clerk to explain the reason why the meeting had been called and Mr. Harris explained that the County Surveyor was anxious to ascertain the points of which complaint arose in the parish and pointed out that regard would have to be had to the difficulties relative to those existing in other parts of the County and to the finance available.

Mr. MacDonald, on behalf of the Child Okeford Parish Council, represented their views. There had been a great increase in through traffic and he illustrated particular points of danger. They felt that there was a need for signposts to indicate the existence of narrow roads, the possible erection of SLOW signs, and moving the existing SCHOOL signs.

Mr. Ridout endorsed Mr. MacDonald’s comments, and Mrs. Davies, representing the Women’s Institute, gave a number of specific instances of danger. Mrs. Shepherd also commented regarding the Playing Field entrance.

Dr. Taylor spoke from his experience at the Cross and made suggestions regarding dotted lines across the road and possible one-way system of traffic.

Miss Hirst referred to possible damage to buildings through the increasing weight of traffic which, in her case, appeared to have been aggravated by works carried out by the Poole & East Dorset Water Board.

After other members present had commented upon the problem, the County Surveyor dealt with a number of complaints and proposals. He explained that he was not averse to the erection of signs where they would serve a useful purpose, but it was doubtful, in many instances, whether they would achieve the desired object. He also pointed out the need to examine the problem as a whole, and problems could not really be solved by diverting traffic from one road or place if the diversion would create other hazards on the route which traffic would then have to take. He said the matter would certainly receive his further consideration, and although he had already inspected the parish on three occasions, he would look around again to see what is was possible to achieve.

Child Okeford Parish Council Minutes: Roads and Traffic Part 2

Last month we started looking back at traffic issues from the minutes of the parish council meetings and got to 1962 when the issue of road markings to improve safety was left in abeyance.

This issue was then raised in 1965 when a meeting was arranged by the County Surveyor to discuss various issues on road safety with the parish council, village groups, and representatives from the Police, County Council and Rural District Council.

The village presentation included a “need for signposts to indicate the existence of narrow roads, possible erection of SLOW signs and moving the existing SCHOOL signs (at that time the School was in the High Street). It was also suggested to put at The Cross “dotted lines across the road and possible one way system of traffic”. The County Surveyor was doubtful whether the erection of signs “would achieve the desired object adding “he had already inspected the parish on three occasions but would look around again”. A transcript of the minute of this meeting can be found on the village web site childokeford.org – the Village – Village History an Archive – This Month from the Archive.

At the next parish council meeting in April 1966 it was recorded “no further could be done”.

On to March 1968 and the parish council recorded it was “Pressing the Rural District Council to provide a pavement from The Cross to Gold Hill…… and traffic still seemed to be increasing through the village”. Comment was also made – “the County Council were not able to put up signs………….they did not feel were necessary unless a fatal accident occurred”. It was agreed “the Roads and Bridges Department of the County Council should be pressed to take some action even, if possible, to upgrade the road through the village from Fontmell Parva to Steepleton corner as a B class.”

After further meetings with the County Council and “as a result of traffic census taken by the police, the County Surveyor had applied on policy grounds for a 30mph limit to be introduced on the roads through the village. He was also considering seriously the resurfacing of Legal Lane” On the latter aspect later reports showed the Surveyor would only agree to “clear out and trim the Lane and dig out the ditches”.

The next recorded event came in March 1969 when advice was received regarding a footpath through the village that “no funds were available for this class of work.” Comment was, yet again, made on the increasingly heavy traffic through the village due in part because “the village appears to be a shortcut from Bristol and the Mendips”. There was also speculation on a Sturminster Newton bypass.

In October 1969 came the devastating news that “The MOT had turned down the request for 30mph signs”. A pause for breath before we move on to 1970 and the formation of the Child Okeford Safety Committee.

David Pope (861411) [email protected]

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