‘Ring road is choking businesses’

Morrisons worker JONTY BEARD says in this guest post for A Little Bit of Stone that staff often can’t get off the car park for an hour after finishing their evening shifts – and that the supermarket (and business in Stone in general) is suffering because of the changes that have been made to the ring road

Being a Morrisons employee I have the opportunity to see the traffic problems at both their worst and their best and also to see the problems it cause for shoppers getting out of our store.

One look at the car park here on Friday evenings alone demonstrates this, with cars backed up around the entire car park and waiting times upwards of an hour or more (on particularly bad occasions) just for people to get out. This fact is frequently highlighted when we have some staff still waiting for the traffic to die down before even attempting to leave, despite their shifts finishing an hour or more earlier. Even later on during some evenings the issues remain. I distinctly remember one colleague getting off the car park at 7.55pm when their shift finished at 7pm. It is apparent that the changes have not worked and I do remember that things never quite got this bad before any changes were made.

Of course this may be seen as a very narrow scope to view the problem from but I feel that it is a valid one as Morrisons is not the only business in the town to feel the effects of this problem. How many people are no longer coming into the town due to the knowledge that it may well take them over an hour or more to accomplish what should realistically take no more than 15 minutes? I would wager that it is more than you might think. Add to this the taking away of one of Stone’s big draws (the free parking which went long ago) and it all contributes to the downturn a lot of business feels.

Then of course we have the alterations themselves which, frankly, are atrocious. Take the new siting of the crossings. The new zebra crossing linking the new location for the pelican crossing and Morrisons itself is ridiculous being, as it is, roughly 10 feet from the turning and completely blind for drivers. I hate to be overly pessimistic but I doubt it will be six months before someone receives a major injury there or is even killed. It is too close to the turn and puts pedestrians at unnecessary risk.

By simply involving the public in the planning and research about these things, a lot of money, time and effort could be saved with better results in the end. I, for one, will continue to walk into town (and to work) and avoid the roads as much as possible until the current layout is improved because it is simply too dangerous and too unpleasant to walk there as it stands.

Something had to be done about the road layout on Christchurch Way to address some of the problems that did exist. That much was clear. What wasn’t clear, however, was how to go about this and, sadly, it seems that the net result of this is excessive spending and, ultimately, a spectacular failure to rectify the issues.

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  1. So nearly £67k has been spent by SCC to absolutely no
    positive effect on the changes at Christchurch Way, and Stone Town Council have
    decided not to take this up with the burghers at the County. Evidently the
    Conservative controlled Town Council have taken a partisan approach and seen fit
    to turn a blind eye to anyone who might have a opposing view. I used to think
    that these decisions were apolitical, as they should be at this level of local
    government. The scales have fallen from my eyes. Lets hope that democracy will
    prevail with the e-petition instigated by alittlebitofstone blogspot.

    The following was gleaned from a FOI request ;- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Thank you for your
    request for information, which was received on 4th March. We
    have completed the search of our records and please find a copy of the
    information you requested. 1/ Implementation of the extended
    traffic island and priority changes on the Christchurch Way/Lichfield
    Junction £15,610.66 2/ Re-location of the pedestrian crossing on
    Christchurch Way £14,706.00 3/ Installation of new pedestrian
    crossing on Mill Street £24,040.60 4/ Extension of barriers on
    Christchurch Way £12,454.05 5/ Has there been a contribution to
    the costs incurred, by Morrisons Supermarkets, and if so by how muchNo If you have any queries or require any further
    information please do not hesitate to contact me. In the first
    instance if you have any comments relating to how your request has been handled
    by our authority, please write to Philip Jones, Head of Information Governance,
    Wedgwood Building, Block A, Tipping Street, Stafford, ST16 2DH.
    If you have any further comments relating to how your request
    has been handled by our authority, please contact the Information Commissioner,
    Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. Yours
    Sincerely Michelle K Wiles Access to Information

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    1. It’s interesting to note all Stone Town Councillors who voted against returning the traffic system back to the way it was before the chaos, are all Conservative Councillors.The members item was debated and a vote was called for on my proposal to return the traffic system back to the previous workable way. The proposal was seconded by Councillor kenney, he also called for a named vote. The vote was lost. Those who voted for,  Councillors Hood , Kenney,Green G. Collier C. Collier. 

      Those who voted against were Councillors Philip Jones, Piggott, Jackson, Price, Farnham, M. Shaw, S. Shaw, Goodall, Williamson and Tomlinson.I think it’s commonly  referred to as toeing the party line.

    On Saturday March 3rd I spent 6 hours in the town promoting Stone in Bloom, during that time I received a number of complaints from members of the public who had been stuck on Morrison’s car Park, some for an hour on Friday March 2nd unable to exit the premises due to heavy traffic flow on Christchurch way.During the day on Saturday March 3rd the same situation occurred and  I saw a member of the Morrison’s staff pressing the pedestrian crossing button to allow traffic to exit Morrison’s car park.It is quite clear that the new traffic arrangement on Christchurch way is unworkable. the traffic was reduced to a crawl on Saturday and people were abandoning their cars at Morrison’s and complaining bitterly to us in the High Street about the traffic and the fact they were stuck on Morrison’s car park, once again unable to leave.Very soon I’m afraid that an already ailing High street will see a downturn in its local economy due to congestion on Christchurch Way.  Visitors will avoid  Stone as the town will soon get a reputation for becoming gridlocked on Market days and at peak times.The serious problem with the traffic on Christchurch Way has to be sorted out as soon as possible and the County Council  held accountable for the chaos they have caused  and rectify their mistake immediately . 
    The above is a copy of my members item put before Stone Town Council at the last General Purposes meeting March 15th. Pedestrians are still crossing opposite the bus stop risking life and limb despite the railings. Councillor Mark Green pointed out to the Chairman, County Councillor Philip Jones that in a BBC Radio Stoke interview between the two of them, Philip Jones had said the splinter island would soon be removed as it was only a temporary measure. I asked Philip Jones how much to date had been spent but he declined to answer my question. I’m taking call after call  from people who are furious at the current arrangement. Stone Town Council are not responsible for this ridiculous traffic arrangement now locally dubbed as ‘PHILIP’S FOLLY’ What we are responsible for is making sure that it is put back to the way it was before by putting pressure on our County Councillor Philip Jones.  Public opinion will win this one, write to your local Councillor C/O Stone Town Council and let them know your views, we will pass on your comments and insist Philip’s Folly is no more! Reply to posting Nick Pye, It’s always worth going into Stone we have a fabulous town to be proud of and we must support it. You only have to read the Stone Gazette to see what a fantastic community we have here in Stone.
    Councillor Mrs Jill Hood

    1. Philip Jones declined to answer about the spending? I am not in the least bit surprised. It would be interesting to find out how much a simple footbridge between Mill Street Car Park and Morrisons Car Park would have cost since that could have completely taken pedestrians out of the equation leaving the traffic to have more chance to flow as it should.  

  3. Totally agree facebook feeds full of comments regarding the traffic on a daily basis I experienced this on Saturday when I was stuck on carpark for an hour and was therefore late for an appointment.
    I have spoken to many people recently who have needed to get to morrisons but have chosen not to make the trip for fear of getting stuck.
    The crossing is also a complete joke pushing a pram over there is like playing dodgeball but in this case the ball is a massive VAN!!!! Grrrrrr

  4. This is a brilliant article.  I have now twice almost been run over on the poor excuse for a pedestrian crossing; both times I had my 14 month old daughter with me. It is clear that the safety of the pedestrian has not been taken into consideration at all.  I don’t think Stone needs and Asda/Tesco as then our town centre would disappear rapidly.  I think our town needs a hand from the County Council to attract new business which can offer more variety.  Stone is only really useful now if you want to browse round charity shops, go for a coffee or go out for a meal.  Yes there are a few good shops (Greengrocer, Butcher, Opticians) but if we don’t want our town to end up like Stoke, something needs to be done sharpish.

  5. Bargain Booze lost out on Friday as when I came around the corner from Granvilles and saw the traffic in the right hand lane I decided not to bother and went straight home instead. As regards the high street shops losing out there are barely any there now to make it worth going into Stone!
    Stone needs an Asda or Tesco just on the outskirts that sells the lot as we have to go to the Potteries or Stafford to do proper shopping!

  6. Couldn’t agree more. How blind do the councillors have to be to ignore the public on this issue for so long? Even now they think it’s all fine, absolutely ridiculous.

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