After a hugely disappointing veto decision at ECC last month, relating to a proposed new route which was to be funded by developers, members of our committee have had discussions with Mark Weston of BHS, together with the BHS Regional and Cambridgeshire Access representatives to seek their opinions and advice. It seems possible that we may be able to take the matter further by judicial review, so maybe this issue has not yet run its course!
Interestingly, Sue, our Development Officer who is also, on an independent basis, Chair of Thurrock Local Access Forum, discovered in a regional LAF Chair meeting, that Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk are all committed to creating new off road routes for multi-use; i.e. open to equestrians as well as pedestrians and cyclists. In fact, both Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire have a policy that all new off road routes created are to be designated as true, multi user paths. This can at least give us some hope for the future, even if Essex is a little slow to catch on!
In a similar vein, many of us have recently completed a survey being carried out by Sustrans, regarding the National Cycle Network. We are all lobbying for the inclusion of all vulnerable road users along this network. With a little education and the application of a little consideration, it will be easy to share these safe off road routes, certainly far, far safer than dicing with motorised vehicles on roads. In another step forward for road safety, I have read with interest about the latest development which is enabling motorists (and other road users) to link directly with police forces, to enable a streamlined and efficient method for reporting serious road incidents, and speedy processing by the police. Nextbase are recognised manufacturers of dash cams, and they have pioneered the new dash cam safety portal (incidentally in a not-for-profit format), in response to general frustration at the lack of a uniform process for submission of videos to the police. Understandably, all our various police forces in this country use different systems for processing video evidence, but it seems they are quickly moving to adopt this portal, which is reducing their process time to a matter of minutes as opposed to hours. To submit a video, users visit https://www.nextbase.com/dashcamportal. It is easy from this, to follow through to the local police force to the area where the incident occurred. The BHS, among other charitable organisations who support various road-users are fully supportive of this new technology.
Finally, back to our own ‘patch’, it seems we are still suffering regular encroachment by travellers in our public parkland. As a consequence, the ECC Country Parks Manager has decided it will be essential to install barriers at Belhus, The cricketers’ car park at Weald, and at Thorndon parks. However, apparently the determination is still there to allow continued access for horse boxes, trailers and other tall vehicles, so we are keeping close tabs on progress on this front.