In response to demand (particularly from local businesses) the Council has opened the Community Office on Saturdays for the summer months (June, July and August). It will be open from 9.30 to 12.30 every Saturday except for 30 June.
The office will continue to be open as usual Monday to Friday 9.30 to 12.30.
Bruton Unionist Club members are shortly to discuss and vote on a proposal to transfer the freehold of the building and its site to Bruton Town Council. The Town Council supports this proposal.
In order to assist members of the Club in making this decision the Town Council has prepared two documents, which can be viewed, downloaded or printed using the links below.
The first is a ‘Questions and Answers’ document.
The second is the Town Council’s Programme Plan for the work it will undertake if it does acquire the freehold.
On 15 May 2018, Streets Reimagined presented their proposals for improvements to the Library Junction: the part of town that most people thought in need of improvement for pedestrians in our Town Plan Survey. This post summarises the proposals, gives details about why the Town Council is undertaking this work and describes what will need to happen if the proposals are to be carried forward.
44 Bruton residents attended the presentations, and gave feedback on the proposals. If you want your views to be considered too, please comment at the bottom of this post.
It is easier to illustrate the proposals than to describe them in writing (though we have tried to describe them below). The image above is an illustrative summary of the proposals. Also available to view download or print are:
two computer generated ‘swept-path analyses’, which show how vehicles will navigate the new junction:
There are several key elements to the proposals:
- The traffic island will be removed, and the two lanes at the eastern end of the High Street will be reduced to one lane. This gives a shorter crossing for pedestrians, and forces vehicles leaving the High Street to make more of a turn either left for Quaperlake Street or Coombe Street, or right for Patwell Street. (At the moment the road layout encourages vehicles from the High Street to continue into Quaperlake Street or Patwell Street without stopping).
- There will be a continuous paved area at the eastern end of the High Street, which will run, at pavement level, from the south side of the High Street to its north side and then across the bottom of Coombe Street to the north side of Quaperlake Street. Vehicles will enter and leave the paved area by gentle ramps. The ramps and street furniture will mark the route for cars. The whole paved area, with its street furniture, will be a strong visual marker that this is a space where vehicles have to slow down and take additional care.
- Pedestrians will be encouraged to cross Quaperlake Street by a paved crossing (at carriageway level, rather than raised) opposite Grove Alley, rather than to make a less safe crossing closer to the Library Junction itself.
Why are we bringing forward these proposals?
In the responses to our 2016 Town Plan Survey traffic was the single most frequently mentioned concern. Amongst many other questions we asked residents which transport improvements they saw as most important. As can be seen from the following chart, there was a large majority in favour of better walking routes being the most important, and a large majority thought making Bruton easier to drive through least important.
We then asked at which of various locations around the town was it most important to improve the experience of pedestrians. The Library Junction was easily top:
Because of what residents told us in our survey, our Town Plan 2017 states that:
‘We want Bruton to be a place where it feels easy and safe to walk around, but wrong to drive fast’
Because residents also told us that the Library Junction was the place most in need of improvement, we decided to start there. We allocated £5,000 from the 2017-18 budget to recruit consultants in urban design. Streets Reimagined were selected following a competitive tender. We asked them to come up with a design for the junction that is:
- Consistent with making Bruton a place that feels easy and safe to walk around
- Respects the conservation area
- Detailed enough to allow discussion with Somerset Highways
- Not prohibitively expensive
These are their proposals.
What will need to happen if the proposals are to be carried forward
Roads in Somerset ‘belong’ to the Highways Authority. In the case of the Library Junction the Highways Authority is Somerset County Council. For the proposals to be carried forward, the County Council will need to be satisfied that the proposals are necessary, safe and affordable. The funds to make the improvements will need to be found.
Before the County Council goes ahead with any proposals its traffic engineers will carry out a safety audit of the proposals, to ensure that they make the road network more rather than less safe.
Preliminary pricing suggests that these proposals will cost in the region of £60,000 to implement. Our County Councillor Anna Groskop has submitted a bid to the County’s Small Improvement Scheme for funding to support these proposals. At time of writing it is not yet known whether her bid has been successful. (If not, it may be possible for her to re-submit next year). Our past experience is that the County Council will then expect a local contribution of about 25% of the cost of a small traffic scheme such as this. The Town Council has already contributed £6,000 (£5,000 for the consultant fees for this design work, and a further £1,000 for a detailed topographical survey of the junction), but has not yet decided to contribute a further sum.
Speedwatch has run successfully for over two years now, but we now need two new volunteers to work in the background to keep it going (you won’t need to don a high-vis jacket). We need a co-ordinator, and someone to enter the data. There will be free training for both roles, and you will also need to agree to be subject to police checks.
The co-ordinator puts together our monthly rota, recruits new volunteers, and liaises with the police about county speeding issues, passing on information to the rest of the team. The co-ordinator also attends county-wide meetings and training approximately twice a year. Our past two co-ordinators have both chosen to be part of the Speedwatch team on the street, but this isn’t absolutely necessary. We expect that if you are a co-ordinator this will take about six hours of your time each month.
The data person receives the reports from each Speedwatch session, and enters the information on an Excel spreadsheet that is then sent to the police each week. This work takes between 30 minutes and an hour each week, and you would need to have a laptop or PC with access to MS Excel.
If you are interested in either role please contact Cllr James Hood on 07968 728959. We would also love to hear from anyone who wants to be part of the street Speedwatch team.
The Town Council would like to express its gratitude to Steve Turner and Peter Underwood, former co-ordinators, and to Sarah Fews who has worked tirelessly in the background inputting the data.
Drop into the Community Office on Christmas Shopping Night (Wednesday 6 December) to meet our urban design consultants and share your ideas about the junction with them.
Residents have told us repeatedly that this junction does not work well for pedestrians or for motorists. When our 2016 Town Plan Survey asked which locations were priorities for improvement for walking, the Library Junction came top.
In our Town Plan we therefore said that we intend to “commission a series of studies and work with residents and businesses to… re-design the Library Junction”. The Council has now appointed Streets Re-imagined, an urban design practice, to develop a design for the junction that make it safer and more convenient for pedestrians. Their approach is to work with the local community to understand their experience of the junction, and this is what they want to do on Christmas Shopping Night.
You can read more about Streets Re-imagined on their website. The Council has awarded them a contract for £5,500 to carry out the design work, which we expect to be completed at some point early in the New Year. If their design is acceptable to the Council, the community and to the County Council’s Highways department we hope to be able to raise funds in future years to make the proposals a reality.