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Idea raised to solve Spalding's town centre traffic problem

Large planters could be used to bar access to Spalding’s Market Place in a bid to stop motorists ignoring town centre road rules.

Vehicles are not allowed to drive through Market Place between 10am and 4pm Monday to Saturday under a traffic regulation order (TRO) - yet this is widely ignored.

In July, police vowed to carry out ‘days of action’ to target vehicle and cycle offences in the town centre and, while officers say this crackdown is still under way, the force wants to work with councillors to find a long term solution.

Traffic signs in Broad Street, Spalding (49248747)
Traffic signs in Broad Street, Spalding (49248747)

At last week's Spalding Town Forum, chairman Roger Gambba-Jones suggested the town could block the road with two large planters - following a similar move in Louth.

The structures could move in out of place as needed.

Coun Gambba-Jones said: "If you want to get past then you would have to get out of your vehicle and give them a really good push and I should suspect it’s a two person job. I suspect most people wouldn’t bother."

He said the only issues would be who had responsibility for moving them - and where they would be if not in operation.

He railed against the ‘nonsense’ and ‘urban myths’ spoken about why it can’t be done - pointing to Louth, where planters are allowed, and saying that emergency services would be perfectly willing to stop and move them if necessary.

He said: "We seem to find so many barriers to what is an obvious solution - it just drives me nuts."

Coun Angela Newton described the traffic issue as a nuisance - and questioned whether cameras could help issue fines to those flouting the rules.

Coun Rob Gibson said the town is currently stuck in a 'half way house' scenario - where pedestrians think it’s closed and therefore safe to walk out, but cars seem to think it’s open and risk hitting pedestrians.

He said the authority needs to do something to stop it, or allow motorists to legally come through, adding: “There’s an accident waiting to happen. We need to make a decision.”

Coun Liz Sneath said the problem didn't just come from cars - but also cyclists, who are also banned from riding through Market Place.

She said she had encountered 'hordes of young people' riding through the town centre, adding: “It’s so dangerous, it’s as dangerous as the cars I think.”

Coun Christine Lawton said she had only ever seen the police tell someone off, adding: “I have never ever seen a ticket given out - it’s appalling."

Coun Gambba-Jones said the police do blitz it on occasions and that powers could be given to the civil parking authorities by the county council to take this off their hands.

'We do as much as we can'

Speaking after the meeting about the crackdown, Sergeant Rick Mosley said: "This is an ongoing operation and will continue to be one of our local priorities due to the strength of feeling among the community and the safety of pedestrians.

"I cannot say how many tickets are handed out but what I can say is that every week we issue tickets to motorists who ignore the signs."

In response to critics who argue police should do more, Sgt Mosley said: "We have to prioritise our response to every call for service based on the threat, harm and risk. We also have a finite number of police officers and PCSOs who deal with all manner of incidents around South Holland. It is impossible to be enforcing the TRO daily but we try to get there as much as we can.

"It has to be remembered that enforcing the TRO by way of issuing tickets is only a short term measure. We need to look at this in a joint approach with SHDC to devise a longer term solution."

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