Wirral Council Audit: Responses


The top section on this page gives responses (by 18 April 2016) to the Audit of Wirral Council's Pedestrian Safety Performance, circulated in January 2016. The second section gives the responses to the preliminary draft Audit document circulated in November 2015.

Responses to Audit of Wirral Council of Jan 2016

For the latest (updated) version, see here.


Date From Response Comment / Action by Pedestrian Safety
04.02.16 Alison Mcgovern, MP for Wirral South Thank you for your letter and report into pedestrian safety in the Wirral Borough Council area.

I fully understand the concern. I also want to see better and safer facilities for pedestrians as well as cyclists. Therefore I have forwarded your letter to Wirral's Chief Executive, under cover of a letter of my own, reinforcing the call for greater action from the council and asking what could be done to prevent the deaths and serious injuries predicted in the report.

Whilst regard has to be had for the unprecedented reductions in government funding Wirral, along with many other councils, is having to endure at present I will press the council to identify either external sources of funds or to find better ways of working that might enable them to address the most urgent aspects of pedestrian safety at the earliest possible opportunity.

Best wishes and thanks again
Thank you
05.02.16 Frank Field, MP for Birkenhead Thank you for writing to me about pedestrian safety in Wirral.

Although I would suggest that you follow this up with your own MP and local councillors, you may be aware that recently I co-sponsored the Pavement Parking Bill which sets out to help the blind, the elderley and mums with pushchairs and young children whose lives are put at risk by rows of cars parked on the pavement. The Bill seeks to give local authorities the powers they need to stop cars parking on pavements. The problem of pavement parking is particularly acute in some of Birkenhead's residential streets where the pavements are so narrow and parking spaces so few.

I understand the Government is looking to pick up on the gist of the Bill before it reaches its next reading in the House of Commons. This would at least go some way towards helping Wirral Council protect pedestrians.

Best wishes and thanks again for taking the time to write to me
Thank you
09.02.16 Cllr Jeff Green
Leader, Conservative group,
Wirral Council
Given the evidence presented I think this warrants further investigation. I have copied this email to Cllr. Steve Williams, our Group's spokesman on the Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee, as it may be a matter that Committee wishes to take up further; I'm thinking either a scrutiny review or at the very least an officer report and explanation at Committee? Thank you
09.02.16 Cllr Steve Williams I have had a copy of the report and liaised with Ian with my comments on it. I fully agree with it, apart from a minor difference regarding the shop advertising in Moreton, which Ian is aware of.

I will be pushing for the detail to be looked into further, and reported on to the Regeneration and Environment committee as you suggest
Thank you
11.02.16 Cllr Phil Gilchrist
Leader, Lib-Dem group,
Wirral Council
Thank you for your follow up letter and enclosure of 1st Feb 2016.
I agree that the consideration is needed to improve the conditions.
It is, however, difficult to persuade many thousands of people walking and driving to be more careful.
On page 9 you mentioned that Wirral had set aside money for 20 MPH zones. This was whizzed away in the midst of uncovering Wirrals hidden financial crisis.
I will be attending Budget cabinet on 22nd February to see how various services fare in the light of the financial situation.
I have noted that CWAC has a four year programme of creating 20 MPH neighbourhoods, off the busier linking roads.
I will ask for some detail on the locations of the accidents in Wirral.
I have downloaded Birminghams July report and will make time to read it.
Thank you

Re the difficulty in persuading many thousands of people walking and driving to be more careful: we should accept that lapses of concentration and misjudgements are normal human behaviour. So we need to make roads much safer places e.g. with 20mph speed limits and segregated cycle routes. And since trying to persuade people to comply with the law has had only a limited effect, we need to enforce the law more strictly.

Re location of collisions in the Wirral: a good source of information is http://crashmap.co.uk/.
By 18.05.16 Cllr Phil Davies
Leader, Wirral Council
No response This is consistent with Wirral Council's very poor performance regarding pedestrian safety
By 18.05.16 Eric Robinson
Chief Executive, Wirral Council
No response This is consistent with Wirral Council's very poor performance regarding pedestrian safety

Responses to Draft Audit of Wirral Council of Nov 2015

The table gives the responses received to the Draft Audit of Wirral Council's Pedestrian Safety Performance [1], with responses from those in positions of responsibility first.
For the latest (updated) version, see here.

Individuals circulated

Paper copies were sent on 10 November 2015 to the following Wirral Council councillors and officers
  • Cllr Phil Davies (Council Leader)
  • Cllr Stuart Whittingham (Cabinet Member)
  • Eric Robinson (Chief Executive)
  • Mark Smith (Head of Environment and Regulation)
  • Dr Fiona Johnstone (Director of Public Health).
A covering letter [2] asked for a response
if you feel that there are any errors or omissions in the document that need to be corrected, or if you feel that any of the judgements are unfair and need to be changed, or indeed if you feel that the document is fair and accurate.
Road safety campaigners, other interested councillors and others were similarly sent paper copies with covering letters or emails containing a link to the online version.



Date From Response Comment / Action by Pedestrian Safety
19.11.15 Eric Robinson, Wirral Council Chief Executive I acknowledge receipt of your letter of 10 November 2015 [2] together with enclosure [1].

I note your comments and confirm that I have referred your document to Mark Smith, Head of Environment and Regulation, who is responsible for highways related issues for his attention.
Thank you

No comments on the document were received from Mark Smith.
9.12.15 Cllr Stuart Whittingham, Cabinet Member I would comment that the records provided to the Council by the police show that there has been a significant reduction in the number of pedestrian related injury crashes during the last ten years reflecting the hard work of the Council and other partners. Thank you

The comment about "a significant reduction" in pedestrian-related injury crashes is disappointing as it ignores the point in Section 3 of the Audit that the figures for the last 5 years are poor with no sign of improvement.

The assumption that the fall in pedestrian casualties over the last ten years is due to "the hard work of the Council and other partners" is disappointing - it is an example of "Unsubstantiated claims for credit for casualty reductions" that was criticised in Section 4 of the Audit.
16.12.15 Jane Kennedy, Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside I have read the document you have produced. It is not for me to comment on its accuracy or fairness.

Pedestrian safety is always a concern and as responsibility is shared, there is partnership across Merseyside in which the Police are involved.

I hope you will send your findings to this partnership for their attention.
Thank you

A copy of the final report will be sent to the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership for their attention.
04.11.15 Merseyside road safety campaigner This has been a huge piece of work, very impressive and thoroughly evidence-based.

There are a few scattered minor typos.

Could 'very poor' in the rating scale be supplemented by, or indicate the existence of, outcomes data that confirm clear and significant deterioration?

What happened, is anything, in 2010/11 to reverse the decline in Pedestrian and Child pedestrian KSI [ref. table in 3]?

The deliberate obfuscation in 4 is outrageous.

In 6, would an up-to-date overview necessarily include Liverpools recent uptake of 20 mph zones?

Great report: Press involvement?
Thank you

Re the rating scale: Possibly, but clear deterioration is hard to establish given the inherent random variation.

Re Section 3 charts: Taking into account the 95% confidence intervals, the charts in Section 3 do not show a definite rise from 2011 (it is possible to draw a horizontal line through all the 95% confidence intervals from 2007 to 2014). Also, the total pedestrian KSI numbers across the whole of Merseyside have been more or less stable since 2006. So at present, the recent Wirral changes can be attributed to random variation - but time will tell.

Re including Liverpool's 20mph uptake: Text changed

Re Press involvement: Yes, once those responsible have had a chance to correct errors and omissions and challenge the judgements.
05.11.15 Member of Wirral Pedestrians Association Well done, very comprehensive. I haven't read it all but the gist of what you are saying is very clear. The Council needs to do more to protect pedestrians. Thank you
06.11.15 Member of Active Travel Forum A great document - though depressing!
Excellently researched.

At a micro level, the pavement ice-cream signs in summer are a sight to be seen - a myriad of 20 or so!
At present a very bad example ie the end shop on Dee Lane (Barclays Bank side) where an ice-cream sign occupies the narrow and difficult pavement. I must complain myself!
Thank you
10.11.15 Merseyside road safety campaigner That's a great report. Maybe we should compile something similar for Liverpool?

Thank you
11.11.15 Member of Wirral Pedestrians Association Thank you for this report it is Brilliant

"our aim is quite simply to be the best Council in the Country." How the hell can it be? If you do not Sow You do not Reap. In the infant school this was drummed in at assembly "you plough the fields and scatter".
Thank you
11.11.15 Member of Wirral Pedestrians Association In section 8, what charity exactly is 'Guide Dogs Charity' meant to be?

Apart from that it is very comprehensive.
Thank you

Text changed to "The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association" and "Guide Dogs"
13.11.15 Road safety campaigner I like the way you've done it very much. It's pretty damning stuff and evidence based. Do circulate it to the media too in Wirral and of course to Living Streets. Thank you
13.11.15 Road safety campaigner This is a damning indictment of Wirral Council Policy. Well done.

On the entries about 20mph where you list other councils, it may be more relevant to list other Northern councils doing Total 20 which are similar to Wirral in being a mixture of community types. I am thinking of Sefton, Lancashire, Calderdale, Warrington. Its probably a better comparison than Bristol, Portsmouth and London.

Maybe it could encourage Chris Boardman to do a similar critique from a cycling perspective.
Thank you

Text changed as suggested
14.11.15 Wirral road safety campaigner That's good. Well done. Thank you
25.11.15 Member of Wirral Pedestrians Association In Section 3, "Wirral has a history of poor pedestrian casualty figures" should be "Wirral has a history of poor road casualty figures".

Also in Section 3, it would be better to say that there are no signs of a reduction over the last 5 years.
Thank you

Text changed as suggested
27.11.15 and 30.11.15 Cllr David Elderton [Initial comment]
Sincere thanks for sending me your letter dated 23rd November 2015 - and the accompanying 18 page draft report in connection with the above.

I would certainly not challenge your statistics - and as you know my continued aspiration is to improve pedestrian safety and prevent inappropriate parking on pavements and grass verges.

Unfortunately, I do not have sufficient executive power and authority at this time to make the council take this matter more seriously.

Having read your draft report, I can see no obvious flaws in what you have stated and think it is 'fair and accurate' - other than to remind you that Kevin Adderley is no longer employed by Wirral MBC (see page 15 of 18)

I do not entirely agree with each and every point/recommendation that you have made (as the devil is in the detail of being practical and pragmatic in particular relation to parking on pavements on congested narrow roads. We have often debated this in the past)

However, as a former Chairman of the Sustainable Communities Committee - at which this matter was regularly debated - I do agree in principle with all that you are trying to achieve and am prepared to be quoted on that. (This is my personal opinion and, clearly, cannot be taken as representing the views of any other elected member)

[Supplementary comment]
Happy for you to publish it as it stands - endorsing the point that this is my personal opinion and does not currently reflect agreed Council policy on this matter. But also that effective control of pavement and grass verge parking did receive 'all party support' at the meetings of the Sustainable Comminities committee that I chaired.
Thank you

Text changed, removing Kevin Adderley's name
28.11.15 Member of Wirral Pedestrians Association Thank you for circulating the audit, which must have taken you an enormous amount for time to write.
I have superficially looked through it and agree.
I will not be able at the moment to give much time to go into details - and am wondering whether any WBC officer would do so?
I hope however, that they will get the same impression as me: you have done a thorough job!

I haven't quite understood the procedures which WBC will have to follow after they have received it..???
Thanks again for all your good work - and please keep me updated.
Thank you

30.11.15 Cllr Pat Cleary It's a great report.

My main comment would be the lack of suggested changes under item 6 in the conclusions.

Apart from that:
Page 1: worth listing the voluntary groups that assisted
Page 9: should Liverpool come first and is it worth saying a bit more about what they are doing?
Page 9: Coincidently 1.1m is exactly what the proposed spend on Hamilton Square road is.
Page 15: worth adding Mark Cambourne as officer responsible for community safety/liaising with police etc.?
Thank you

Recommendations have been added that
Wirral Council should
  • apologise for the very poor performance
  • explain why the performance has been so poor
  • state what will be done to correct the poor performance and
  • give a timescale for when a proper service for pedestrians will be provided.

Re Page 1: The voluntary groups, some of whose members assisted, were Wirral Pedestrians Association and Merseyside Cycling Campaign - now added.

Re Page 9: The list has been rewritten with a link

Re Page 9: 1.1m being the same as the proposed spend on removal of pedestrianisation in Hamilton Square - now added.

Re Page 15: Mark Cambourne: further information awaited
7.12.15 Wirral road safety campaigner Page 1: "no ambition" should be "no stated ambition"

Page 3: Many people will struggle to accept the equality of child road deaths with deaths from child abuse.

Page 3: Wirral Council is repeatedly stating that funding cuts are affecting services.

Page 7: The statement that many pedestrian journeys will not be undertaken due to fear of injury needs supporting evidence.

Page 7: Remove "easily" from "80 serious injuries or deaths that can potentially be easily prevented".

Page 7: How are "The best councils" defined?

Page 8: Agree this is awful.

Page 9: The saving of five child deaths or serious injuries per year refers to what area?

Page 10: Is this Newton part of Wirral?

Page 11: The ban on pavement parking being enforceable by Council officers needs explanation - why is this not everywhere?

Page 14: There should be a recommendation on what action is needed e.g. referral to a Council committee.

A very comprehensive report - I wish you luck in this.
Thank you

Page 1: changed as suggested

Page 3 (a): Yes, society does often treat child deaths from different causes as of different values, but for no good reason. But attitudes are starting to change.

Page 3 (b): Wirral Council could be stating clearly what it needs to do to tackle its poor pedestrian casualty rate.

Page 7 (a): Reference added (the 2015 Brake survey)

Page 7 (b): Text changed

Page 7 (c): Text changed to "Best practice...".

Page 9: It's the Wirral - text changed.

Page 10: Yes, in West Wirral - text clarified

Page 11: It requires a Traffic Regulation Order and signing, which is expensive - text changed.

Page 14: Recommendations have been added (see above).
10.12.15 Wirral road safety campaigner The report seems good to me. I live in Wallasey & cycle a lot in Wirral. Try not to use car. Also do some walking.

It occurs to me that WBC could raise money via wardens if the law was changed to stop parking on pavements. I also seem to remember that when I was young (long time ago) cars had to be parked "correctly" at side of road-ie with the rear of car towards the oncoming traffic. There have been fatalities due to drivers parked "wrong way". From what I guess (& have seen) drivers edge out to see what is coming (mirrors can't be used) & then collide with oncoming traffic. Residents (who have space) could also be charged if they park on road regularly?

Hope you make some progress.
Thank you

Concerning pavement parking, it is currently the police who are responsible for stopping people parking on pavements (on most roads). They say they have not the resources to enforce the law, but like you say, if the fines from the fixed penalty notices went to the police issuing the fines, the process would be self-funding and there might even be a surplus which could be used for other road safety work. The same of course goes for speeding. This use of fines to support enforcement is something that Wirral Pedestrians Association has suggested, but the suggestion has so far been ignored.

Yes, residents parking on a road could be charged. Many drivers regard parking on a road to be a right, and those in authority are often too timid to stand up to them and say otherwise.
16.12.15 Cllr Steve Williams Thank you for letting me have sight of your draft Audit report. I find it to be an excellent (and very sensible!) document.

The only slight varying view I have with the report, is item 2 on page 13. This is an issue which I have had quite a few dealings with. I have watched the site many times and have never seen anyone have to go into the road, including prams and wheelchair users getting past.

When it was mooted about this problem, and possible removal of the street display, a petition of about 100 local residents was obtained and displayed in the shop's window. As a local councillor I had to heed the will of my local residents, and to be honest, while we are struggling in Moreton to attract shoppers and new businesses this display is an asset in that respect. If I considered it a danger I would obviously think differently.

Apart from that one point I welcome your report and look forward to hearing of any other responses, and further development on it
Thank you

The collection of a petition asking to keep the shop display suggests a lack of effective communication from Wirral Council since nobody seems to be asking for the shop display to be removed completely.
20.12.15 Wirral road safety campaigner Encroachment of cafes and bars on pavements needs to be addressed.

As a user, I enjoy drinking coffee and eating cakes, outside.

As the rider of a mobility vehicle, I find them to obstructive.

How the blind cope, I cannot imagine.

Kevin Adderley is no longer Director of Regeneration, etc. He has been replaced by David Ball (davidball@wirral.gov.uk)
Thank you

Kevin Adderley's name has been removed
4.1.16 Cllr Wendy Clements I agree that the safety of pedestrians should be a priority for the council (I would add cyclists too) and applaud your careful work in drawing up this document. Thank you


References

[1] Audit of Wirral Council's Pedestrian Safety Performance - Draft (Nov 2015) http://www.pedestriansafety.org.uk/wirral_council_audit_nov_2015_draft.html

[2] Covering letters sent 10 November 2015 with Draft Audit http://www.pedestriansafety.org.uk/files/wirral_council_draft_audit_covering_letters.doc