The Parish Council invites members of the community to comment on ideas for new village gateways. If you wish to input your views, please do so here or by attending the Parish Council meeting tomorrow in the Village Hall at 7.30pm (Village meeting starts at 7.00pm).
What is a Village Gateway and why do we need one?
When the bridge in Misterton was closed for an extended period of time in 2020/21, our village got an unwelcome glimps of what traffic might be in 10-20years time. For a period, all the traffic that would normally travel through Crewkerne on the A356 came through North Perrott. A large proportion was being diverted out of its way and was in a hurry to make up time. The sheer volume of HGV’s and the speed that they were travelling immediatly impacted on the houses closest to the main road, some of whom are built on 15th Century foundations. Pictures moved on walls, cracks appeared in plaster and in some cases, fell off the wall. The Parish Council acted quickly and initiated a 20’s Plenty campaign to slow down HGV’s passing through the village. Over 25 local transport companies were written to and we even had 3 supportive replies! The result was a significant reduction in speed and an immediate reduction in damage and inconveniance to home owners. Temporary banners were put up and have been in place for over 12 months. This is not a problem that will go away and so NPPC has decided that a more permanent solution is required.
Statistics and experts from Highways insist that to reduce average speeds in build up areas, drivers need to see and understand the reason that they should slow down. Bus stops, schools and pedestrians walking on the road are obvious examples but most dangers are invisible or only occasional. The solution that many villages have taken is to install gateways to their villages, giving a visulal reminder to drivers that they are entering a community that represents a potential reason to slow down and drive concienciously. To reinforce this we already have a very active Community Speedwatch group (CSW) and now a Speed Indicator Device (SID).
The intention is place a fence behind the existing Hamstone sign at the south of the village and a gatepost on the opposite verge. This not an actual gate but it represents a visual gateway to the village. The same will be replicated at the other end of the village. The stone will have the village name engraved on it but there will need to be more signage, to explain the reason for slowing down and what speed we are expecting drivers to travel through the village at. Given that the curent speed limit is 30mph, the intention is to target HGV’s (including tractors) to reduce their speed to 20mph using the current slogan 20’s plenty and the Highways accepted green sign, which is voluntary. This avoids the costly and bureacratic application for a blanket 20mph limit, which we might not qualify for in any case. This project is to be a ramping up of an already successful campaign but not ruling out further speed controlling measures in the future.
The present banners stipulate that the reason for slowing down HGV’s is because our houses are close to the road and on ancient foundations. We are also a conservation area and a one of the most beautiful hamstone villages in the area. We need a short and sharp message that will convey why drivers should slow down and in a permanent and tasteful way that is fitting in our environment.
To that end, the fence will be built out of green oak, that has already been felled and is scheduled to be milled in June. We would like to give villagers the chance to brain-storm ideas that the PC can consider incorporating into the design, before work is started.
On this page, there are examples of what other villages have done. Most have opted for off the peg Highways approved designs, often white and mostly made of recycle plastic. Not entirely fitting with a conservation area, so we would like to be a bit more creative with natural and local materials if we can.
Everyone should be familar with the hamstone name sign at the south of the village. It is assume that the northern end should match. Please let us know if you think differentl
Behind the Stone will be a symbolic gate. This might comprise to gate posts and 3, 4 or 5 rails, perhaps with a crossmember? On the other side of the road , the verge is quite narrow and might only have room for a single gate post. At the northern site there may be room for short length of fence. What do you think?
We have a quote for a new stone, at £760 installed. However, the engraving is much more expensive. What would you like to see engraved on the stone? NORTH PERROTT alone will add about £1,005 to the cost. Adding CONSERVATION AREA or 15th CENTURY FOUNDATIONS would double that cost.
An alternative would be to have a highways sign similar to the 20’s plenty sign on the existing banners. This might be on the opposite side of the road to the hamstone sign? Would you approve of that or do you have differnt idea?
It’s not easy to mock up a picture of exactly what it could look like but I hope you now have an idea of what we would like to see at both ends of the village. Please come along to the meeting tomorrow and take part in the conversation.
North Perrott’s much anticipated SID was finally installed on Sunday 27th Feb 2022. Delays had been caused by a general lack of silicon “chips” that are the programable component of all computers.
The SID is owned and serviced by North Perrott Parish Council and will be used in conjunction and in support of the already well established Community Speed Watch group (CSW). The SID will enable 24/7 collection of data including speed, date, time and location. Unlike the CSW group or traffic cameras, it does not collect any personal information, such as number plates or photographs. It is a valuable extension of our “HGV’s 20 is plenty” campaign, which was started in November 2020 and it is hoped that as well as reducing average speeds of vehicles through the village, it will also help target persistent offenders, enabling the CSW to identify times of peak offences.
We are deeply indebted to A H Warren Trust (Coombe Farm) and Hilton Herbs, who are the main sponsors of our village SID. Both companies have been active in the village for many years and both also hold the safety of horse riders close to their hearts. NPPC is grateful for their generous donations.
It is hoped that these generous donations will be a valuable contribution to keeping our village safer for the future and improving the quality of life for our community, especially pedestrians, horse riders, people with houses directly adjacent to the road and all road users.
Anyone wishing to support the speed safety campaign in North Perrott can do so by donating their time to the CSW group or money toward the future upkeep of the SID. (EDIT: Many thanks to Mr M. Findlay for his generous donation towards the future upkeep)
There are rules on the use of SIDs by Parish Councils and Somerset Highways Authority have clear guidelines based on data collected nationwide. It has been proven that the effectiveness of static SIDs for slowing traffic is diluted over time and so Highways have two major stipulations. Firstly, a mobile SID can only remain in one position for a maximum of two weeks and secondly, that it cannot return within 6 weeks. This means that a minimum of 4 positions are required to fulfill this criteria. This will mean that the SID will be placed at both ends of the village and to protect the Village Green and the junction of Willis Lane, each in turn. This covers the 4 most hazardous areas in the village. The Village Green and Willis Lane can be detected from two different directions, so theoretically, there are 6 useful positions in the village.
Many villagers have noticed the increase in Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) since the 18 tonne weight limit was placed on the bridge (culvert) opposite the Globe Inn in Misterton. This has greatly increased the number of HGVs passing through the village, which is having a great impact on those whose houses directly abut the A3066 in both North Perrott and Haselbury. In particular, the speed they travel and the number of times lorries have to squeeze past each other in numerous pinch-points along the route.
A number of residents have reported that the increased numbers of lorries can be heard and felt as they pass by only metres from where they are sitting. There have been at least three reports of new cracks appearing in interior plaster-work on roadside walls. Some of these houses will have 15th Century origins and their foundations will not be up to modern standards. This means that the fabric of the buildings will be under stresses that they were never designed to withstand.
Work is scheduled to start on repairing the bridge by the Globe in early January 2021 but there is reason to believe it might be delayed because of the contractual complexity and licences that must first be obtained. There is good reason to fear that there will be protracted delays and so the Parish Council has decide to act now to prevent any potential damage to our heritage buildings that make our village worthy of its “Conservation” status.
In the first instance, we have sought permission and had it approved by Somerset County Council to launch a campaign to ask HGV drivers to voluntarily keep to 20mph while in the 30mph zone.
We want to give a clear reason for requesting drivers to do this and have decided to emphasise that we are a Conservation Area and that our 15th Century properties have little or no foundations. Speed plus weight equal vibration and so if we can reduce the speed of the lorries by over 30%, the reduction in potential damage will be reduced by much more than that.
We will also be politely asking local distribution firms to acknowledge our problems and ask them to direct their drivers accordingly. We also hope to monitor lorry speeds and write a similar letter to businesses outside our area, if their lorries are seen to be going over 20mph through the village.
There is every reason to suspect that HGV traffic will return to the A356 when the weight restriction is lifted in Misterton. The reason for this is because traffic surveys show that almost all lorries using the A3066 and A356 have a genuine reason to use those routes, any lorry dropping goods in Crewkerne will not want to come through North Perrott, which is undoubtedly a tedious and lengthy diversion for most of them. However, for the work to be done the A356 will have to be closed to all traffic for 4 weeks and in the long term, road traffic is unlikely to get any lighter. Therefore, in the January Parish Council meeting we will be discussing ways to build on our “Conservation”status and make traffic more aware of the importance of the heritage of the village and the delicate nature buildings that line the main road.
To kick off this campaign, banners will be placed at each end of the village and repeated at Townsend, to request that HGVs voluntarily reduce their speed to below 20mph. At the same time, anyone who thinks they may have damage to their property that might be caused by road traffic, to start to monitor it as soon as possible. This could be done by a professional surveyor or on a basic level, by marking any crack with a piece of masking tape placed across it and making a mark on each side. Measure the distance between the marks on a weekly basis to monitor movement in the wall.
The CSW team has recently become active again, having been suspended during the Coronavirus lock-down.
Following retirements over recent years and lately, some volunteers moving out of the village, the group is looking to bolster it’s numbers again.
Volunteers work in pairs for one hour, maybe twice a month. It is well organised and full training is given. Feed back is managed through an area group so that information about effectiveness is shared around a wide area. There are also active groups in Haselbury and Misterton. Together, volunteers make a valuable contribution to reducing vehicle speeds in our villages and keeping the roads a little bit safer.
North Perrott Parish Council is currently fundraising to purchase a Speed Indicator Device (SID) for our village. As well as acting as a deterrent in its own right, it is hoped that the device will gather useful information about times and the speed of vehicles travelling through the village and enable the CSW team to target regular offenders.
If you would like to join or find out more about what you can do to help control the speed of cars traveling through North Perrott, please contact the scheme co-ordinator, Mrs Georgina Hoskyns 01460 72883.