New funding plan could help satisfy communities’ desire for increased traffic restrictions

A new solution is being sought to find a way to provide the yellow lines residents in some Barnsley communities are demanding to control traffic problems but which conventional funding methods have been unable to finance.

Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 4:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 4:53 pm
The Green, Penistone

Historically such work, officially called Traffic Regulation Orders, was provided by Barnsley Council but much of the responsibility has now been passed to local ward alliances, bodies made up of councillors and other pillars of the community who have council budget to spend each year.

The system can function as intended but in Penistone one scheme has now hit the buffers three times, with plans for an Order covering The Green when council officers questioned whether the £5,000 approved by Penistone Ward Alliance would be enough to meet the cost. The alliance had previously rejected an application for the work, which residents insist is needed because of congestion.

That has created an impasse, but Coun Dave Griffin who represents the Penistone West ward on the council has been working since late last year on a project which could clear the way for an alternative council-funded body to take on responsibility.

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Area councils operate across Barnsley, made up only of councillors representing the district, and also have an annual budget from Barnsley Council, provided to give councillors with local knowledge the opportunity to spend money wisely on the projects which will best improve their areas.

A caveat is that the cash has to be available across the area council’s area rather than focused only at specific projects, meaning one scheme for a TRO in a specific area would be outside the area council’s scope.

Penistone Area Council is currently in the process of re-drawing its priorities for the future and an option proposed by Coun Griffin is that a new priority will involve community safety.

“If that becomes a priority, I will propose we set up a community safety fund,” he said.

That would be open to bids for work from across the whole Penistone area, opening up the possibility of funding for work at The Green, which would be examined alongside any other potential bidders.

“We would undertake an area wide community safety review,” he said.

“We would encourage parish councils to identify locations which could do with a TRO and other members of the community to come forwards with their ideas, too.

“I would envisage that would take something like a couple of months, then we would devise an evaluation scorecard, in consultation with Barnsley Council highways, who already have one they use themselves.

“Using that we would go through whatever candidate TROs came forwards,” he said.

Those scoring as the most urgent would be expected to get priority attention, so while the scheme would not guarantee funding for The Green, it would give the road an opportunity to compete with others.

No suggestions have yet been made for the size of a community safety fund from the area council, but Coun Griffin said he did not expect large numbers of candidates.

In the Penistone West ward, a TRO was recently introduced close to St John’s primary school, with another planned for Millhouse Green. That is being funded from cash provided by Highways England, for safety upgrades on a stretch of the A628.