Update on Dunblane Streetscape — Stirling Council deems Petition to be invalid
The award winning (top prize under partnership working) £1.3M streetscape works, remains a key topic of concern for many in our community.
First a little background information:
The total value of the streetscape improvement works was over £1.3 million. This figure includes for all design costs, construction and supervision as well as the new artwork incorporated within the project.
Apart from a £55,000 contribution from Roads Maintenance for the resurfacing of some carriageways, the project was funded entirely by Sustrans (£1.275m). No other Stirling Council budgets were allocated to this project.
Further information below on the level of public participation in various events/consultations
· July 2014 On-Street drop-in event — Over 300 people dropping by as well as 250 comment cards distributed prior to event.
· Nov/Dec 2014, Public open events (daytime and evening) and business/residents closed event — 182 people attended the three events. Questionnaires distributed at the events were also publicised and made available on-line to anyone unable to attend. In total around 200 written comments and 80 detailed surveys were completed
· April 2016 — Information on final design circulated and formal Traffic Order consultations processed
Project Background from SUSTRANS:
In 2014/15 we worked with Stirling Council’s Transport and Access team, local people and representatives from Dunblane Development Trust and Community Council to develop ambitious designs for Stirling Road in Dunblane.
The project was initiated following the replacement of a rail footbridge by NetworkRail linking Springfield Terrace with StirlingRoad. This opened up opportunities to improve access more widely for cross town/cross railway journeys to local destinations and improve the quality and usability of Stirling Road.
Sustrans Scotland and Stirling Council have been recognised for this work in Dunblane alongside representatives of local community groups at the 2017 Cycle-Rail Awards, after the Stirling Road Access for all Project was awarded the top prize under partnership working.
Commenting on the award, Stirling Council’s Environment and Housing Committee Convenor, Councillor Jim Thomson, said:
“We’re delighted that the approach taken to developing this project along with the community has been recognised.
“Hopefully this project sets a good example of what can be achieved when the whole of a community is involved and works together.”
From Sunday 13th May to Monday 25th June 2018 I ran a survey both online and available in paper form to people who use the high street. The results are available here.
The Facebook post had achieved a “13,406 People Reached” helped by 34 shares of the post, overall a total of 710 responses were received, 623 responses were completed online, and 87 paper surveys collected. 569 respondents identified as being a Dunblane Resident, 32 as being either a Dunblane Business Owner or an Employee of a Dunblane Business, 29 as a Regular User of Dunblane Train Station, 77 as a Regular Visitor to Dunblane, and 3 respondents skipped this question.
This indicated that a majority of the community were not in favour of the changes made as a result of the streetscape.
In January 2018 and again in February 2019, I asked council officers if they could provide an estimate as to how much it cost to remove the new pavement opposite the Post Office, and return that section of road to having two pavements instead of the current three pavements. On both occasions this request was refused, with the February 2019 response to the request including the statement: “Accordingly, officers have said that they are not aware of strong community support in favour of removing part of the scheme.” — This was after they had received a copy of the results of the survey I had run in 2018.
A regular user of the high street started a petition which I as a locally elected member support.
The petition wording is:
Dunblane Railway Streetscape Changes:
The total value of the streetscape improvement works was over £1.3 million. This figure includes for all design costs, construction and supervision as well as the new artwork incorporated within the project. Apart from a £55,000 contribution from Roads Maintenance for the resurfacing of some carriageways, the project was funded entirely by SUSTRANS (£1.275m). The streetscape changes were Dunblane Community Partnership led (Dunblane Community Council, Discover Dunblane, Dunblane Development Trust).
Stirling Council’s Key Priority E states:
We will create and implement environment and infrastructure improvements. We will deliver new ownership and delivery methods around energy generation, public transport and internet access, ensuring profits and services work to community, not commercial priorities.
While our citizens are the lifeblood of our communities, the environment and infrastructure are the arteries which allow us to function and flourish.
As the streetscape changes in Dunblane are contrary to creating an environment and infrastructure that allow the community of Dunblane to function and flourish, we request the streetscape be reviewed to create an infrastructure that is supportive to the community of Dunblane.
We the undersigned, request that Stirling Road (Post Office / Papa’s) in Dunblane be returned to a state that would allow cars to park on both sides of this road again as was the case prior to the streetscape changes, as quickly as possible. We also request that council investigate what else can be done to help the community of Dunblane recover from the overall negative impact of these streetscape changes.
Per the Petition’s form — Before a petition is submitted, petitioners are expected to have taken reasonable steps in attempting to resolve the issues.
The principal petitoner stated:
I have communicated with Councillor Majury previously about the strong community feeling about these streetscape changes and in particular the harm that the new (third) pavement on Stirling road along the Post Office section is having on both residents and local businesses. He was aware of these issues.
Stirling Council has twice refused to provide even an estimate as to how this road can be returned to a state prior to the damaging SUSTRANS and Community Partnership led streetscape changes.
I have also helped distribute a survey organised by Councillor Majury in order to help ascertain what the community feeling towards these streetscape changes were and on some other matters. My work made a significant contribution leading to an overall a total of 710 responses were received, 623 responses were completed online, and 87 paper surveys collected.
As myself and Councillor Majury have been unable to make any further progress with restoring Dunblane to a state prior to the streetscape changes, where this is wanted by the community, I am now submitting a petition.
After the principal petitioner submitted the petition, on behalf of the principal petitioner I met with council officers on site to discuss the issues.
I provided the below update to the principal petitioner after I met with council officers.
On your behalf, I met with a couple of Council officers in Dunblane to discuss the streetscape, however sadly we are not much further forward.
No estimated has been provided as to how much it would cost to reinstate Station Rd outside of the Post Office to the pre-streetscape condition, nor what would be required in order to have a drop off/pick-up space within 45 metres of the platform entrance.
The council officers did however state that due to SUSTRANS largely funding the work, in addition to the cost of reinstating Station Rd outside of the Post Office to the pre-streetscape condition, the council would also need to hand money back to SUSTRANS, so rectifying the streetscape works would effective cost the council double.
The council officers stated that rectifying the streetscape works may also create reputational damage to Stirling Council as a delivery partner.
However despite all of this Stirling Council has deemed invalid because “There does not appear to have been any reasonable steps in attempting to resolve this issue with Officers of the council.”.
On behalf of the principal petitioner and the over 170 people that have signed the petition, I am querying this decision with both the Chief Executive and the Chief Governance Officer of the council.
What are your thoughts on the over £1.3 million streetscape changes?
What are your thoughts on Stirling Council deeming the petition to be invalid?
I would be keen to know.
I am sure that the Chief Executive of Stirling Council would also be keen to know.
The Stirling Observer may also be interested in knowing your thoughts — firstname.lastname@example.org