Following is Part 1 of our interview with Frank Hindle, Liberal Democrat and Low Fell Councillor. The answers were very in-depth and informative so we’ve split the interview into 2 small, digestible chunks for your benefit.
Without further ado, here’s Part 1:
LF: What do you see are the biggest challenges facing the residents of Low Fell and what would you like to see changed or improved?
FH: Different people face different challenges and different issues. But, in terms of general issues in Low Fell, clearly one that’s been a major issue of late has been the car parking. The car park charges have pushed car parking on the streets and caused problems for pedestrians in those streets.
Even without that, parking is a big issue in Low Fell in terms of parking arrangements. Some people think we need more enforcement and some think we need less enforcement. It’s always going to be contentious and there’s no easy answer for this issue.
Secondly, we’re quite well served in the area but we don’t have any great disabled access at Primary Schools so we’re very keen to try and make some progress there.
There’s lots going on in Low Fell, it has a strong sense of place and it has community groups and community organisations, but in some respects the community life in Low Fell is quite weak. We’ve been trying to do things to promote that – things like the Fayre at Kell’s Lane Park and the Carols around the Christmas tree.
In addition, Ron Beadle initiated a project with pupils a Joseph Swan School a couple of years ago. It was a volunteering project where they supported people in the community and it’s things like that we’re trying to promote and do more of.
LF: It’s very rare to see police patrolling the streets of Low Fell. Will there be efforts made to increase the frequency of patrols in the area?
FH: Well the good side of that is that crime is very low in Low Fell. You see Police where there are high crime levels. The PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) do have a reasonably high profile in Low Fell. Police are like everyone else in that their budget is pushed and stretched and they have to match resources. If there’s particular issues at particular times where we need more police we’d be very happy to take that issue up and raise it with the Police.
LF: The double yellow lines outside businesses are hurting trade. What are the chances of removing those lines?
FH: On Durham Road we made significant progress last year because it used to be that you couldn’t park anywhere on Durham Road. This hurt a lot of businesses. We managed to get the parking restrictions significantly relaxed and there are now several places where you can park for up to an hour on Durham Road.
Businesses on Kell’s Lane are very concerned about this. There was a petition and various rounds of discussion with engineers several months ago and there are some changes coming in on Kell’s Lane to try and make it a bit better for parking. The problem is that Kell’s Lane is quite a narrow road with buses coming in both directions and children walking to school. However the engineers have come up with a scheme that seems to be generally acceptable to allow a bit more parking, not as much as some people would like but it certainly gives a balance.
On Beaconsfield Road, quite honestly, it would not feasible to have parking there as it would clog traffic up and create knock-on problems elsewhere. I can see why businesses wish people could park there but the overall consequences would be quite dramatic and I would not support that idea.
LF: Going back to your earlier comments about the car parking issue, it seems to several residents that parking on the street has become worse since the car park charges were implemented. If people are avoiding the car parks then what is the point in charging for their use?
FH: Ron, Susan and myself (The Low Fell Councillors) voted against car park charges. We don’t think they’re a good idea, full stop. One of the concerns we raised at the time was that people would just park elsewhere and the car parks wouldn’t get used, and this has happened.
However, the Council aren’t likely to change their policy. Their argument is that they need the revenue generated in order to make improvements and maintain the car park. However, I don’t think the income is going to be what they expected and they’re making foolish expenditures on brick walls that weren’t needed.
The question is where do we go from here? I don’t have enough votes to be able to get rid of car park charges so we need to try and work with the Council to try and make some changes.
For example, Lowery’s Lane car park has a parking limit of four hours and there’s lots of empty spaces. People want to park all day so why can’t you park all day? At the moment you can also park for 20 minutes free of charge. I’d like to see this limit increase to half an hour or an hour because it would be much more reasonable if people want to do their shopping.
Stay tuned for Part 2 coming up tomorrow!Part Two