Highways matters occupy a great deal of the Council's time. We have an appointed Highways Officer - Cllr Andrea Holmes - who liaises with Cumbria Highways who are responsible for the maintenance and safety of our local roads. We campaign hard to make sure the highways issues we raise, are high on their agenda, but we need to be mindful that they operate under considerable pressure and have to follow a huge range of procedures.
Highways issues are discussed at every Council meeting.
Faults are reported using the CCC reporting system. Residents are strongly urged to report any issues of concern themselves because the more people who report issues the better and the more likelythey are to be actioned.
Safety issues are raised directly with Cumbria Highways
Recent and Current Campaigns
Campaigning for improvements takes a considerable amount of our time and energy. We have been successful in getting the following improvements:
a street light in the centre of the village was installed to improve the safety of pedestrians, especially those using the Village Hall on dark evenings
signage warning HGVs of the height limit at the aqueduct have been upgraded to minimise the number of vehicles having to U turn in the village and the number of bridge strikes has reduced
the resurfacing of Well Heads lane and part of Crosscrake Lane has been carried out
However, other issues have proved much more problematic; the lack of success is not due to a lack of effort on behalf of the Council. This is a record of the actions we have taken in the last decade to try and get solutions to our most difficult safety problems:
Pedestrian safety at Sedgwick Aqueduct
Between 2012 and 2017 we campaigned for improvements to pedestrian safety under the aqueduct. Eventually CCC offered us two options, to remove the pavement or retain the pavement, improve safety signage and add colour and narrowing markings. We conducted a resident ballot and the second option was preferred. Work was completed in 2018 and have been a partial success. However, there are still some cars that pass pedestrians too closely and there have been some pedestrian strikes and many more near misses. We have requested that the location of the warning signs to the north are relocated so that they are closer to the aqueduct and therefore more likely to be seen. This was agreed in 2020 and we were informed that the sign was being made in August 2021 and would be installed soon after. We are still waiting for this and continue to press for completion of this improvement.
Pedestrian safety along Back Lane
Since 2018 we have been campaigning for improvements along Back Lane to improve pedestrian safety at the junction, bend and where the footpath crosses the lane. Requests to extend the 30mph speed limit were refused and promises of signage to warn cycles and vehicles of pedestrians (made in 2020 by the CRASH team) have never materialised. We continue to pursue this matter.
Safety at Carex Farm Junction
Since 2015, we have raised safety concerns. We were successful in getting the white lines repainted and the resurfacing of Crosscrake Lane, but promises of improvements in road markings to warn motorists travelling south into the village have never materialised. We continue to campaign for these improvements on a monthly basis.
20mph speed limit
As early as 2012, the Council were campaigning for a reduction in speed through the village. Such a reduction is seen as an effective way of addressing so many of our safety concerns. Our request was refused but in 2014, we were successful in getting a speed monitoring exercise carried out. However results indicated a 20mph speed limit was not required. We challenged this and following a pedestrian strike, they repeated the speed monitoring exercise in 2018, but once again we were told that a change was not deemed necessary because the aqueduct was acting as a natural traffic calming measure. We challenged the validity of the data and had an on-site meeting with CCC and the Police. We were then told that 20mph was no longer county policy and so any requests would be turned down. In 2020, when Kendal began to introduce 20mph limits we queried the information we had been given about the policy change and again requested that the speed limit in Sedgwick be reduced. It was considered at the December 2020 CRASH Committee Meeting but once again refused. In August 2021, we met with a representative of Cumbria Highways who agreed to monitoring speeds in the village again including on the periphery of the village. She also explained that current County Policy makes it unlikely that any change would be sanctioned. If the results of the monitoring shows the average speed is over 24mph that is deemed too fast for a 20mph limit and the only option would be for the Parish Council to fund speed reduction measures such as speed bumps and/or gates. They would require resident and planning approval (they are notoriously unpopular because of increased noise and pollution). If results show speeds of 20-24mph a 20mph limit might be feasible but will require a long planning process and needs to be funded by the Parish (costs run into many thousands). Average speed is the key indicator not the outliers of speeding vehicles which seems counter intuitive. Basically, the system seems stacked up against anyone being granted a 20mph limit. We have explored introducing a “20 is plenty" scheme but have been informed that it has been abolished and signs are being removed. We have also investigated installing Speed Indicator Devices but they would have to be funded by the Parish - prices start at £2500 each (and we would need between 2 and 6) - and they would only be approved by CCC and the Police if the traffic speed data indicates it would work and if safe locations could be found - which itself is problematic in Sedgwick. They are not considered effective unless they are moved and maintained regularly, so ultimately this option seems an unlikely solution. If the promised speed monitoring exercise does not trigger some help, it seems that we are only left with two other options that may reduce speeding traffic; getting any faded speed/warning signs replaced so they are more noticeable and requesting road markings are added to existing warnings to improve safety. The Council are committed to continuing to campaign for this key safety initiative. Please report any accidents or near misses.
Over Easter, Sedgwick Parish Council received this Public Position Statement about potholes via our County Councillor Brenda Gray. All faults we are aware of in the Parish have been logged using the system they recommend.
From Cumbria Highways - Winter weather and the impact on the Highway We understand and appreciate the frustration that Cumbrian residents are experiencing. This winter has proven to be a real challenge to Cumbria County Council Highway services. It has been colder and wetter than the previous few years and as a result, there are more road defects and increased pressure on the network. The significant, prolonged wet periods have been closely followed by lengthy spells of cold weather, leading to substantial additional freeze-thaw action and the accelerated deterioration of our roads. This is a situation not unique to Cumbria and many of our neighbouring authorities are having the same challenge. Repairs done at this time of year when roads are cold and wet are less likely to be as effective as repairs done in warmer, drier conditions. There have been very few periods of warmer, drier weather for us to undertake permanent repairs; therefore often the only option available to us, in order to keep roads safe, is temporary work. We appreciate that this has dismayed some customers who expect more but unfortunately, as explained, permanent solutions are not always effective if road temperaturesare low and rather than closing roads, a temporary fix is a more appropriate solution. Our intention is to effect quality permanent repairs as soon as we are out of the winter weather period. Our teams continue to work hard to manage the increased number of defects but the reality is that we need to prioritise carefully. The Council has had to take nearly £200m out of its revenue budgets in the last 8 years – with further cuts still to be made. We simply do not have the money available to invest in all the proactive maintenance we would like or to divert money from other essential council services into our roads. We are grateful when our customers identify and report problems and defects to us but as explained, we are not always able to meet their expectations, particularly when the defect does not fall within our priority specifications. Given the extenuating circumstances and our limited resources, we are doing all we can to keep on top of the damage and ensure the highways are safe for all road users. I would encourage that defects are reported directly on line athttps://www.cumbria.gov.uk/roads-transport/highways-pavements/reporting-problem-on-highway/WDM/iframe.asp?cg=CDH or to the Highways Hotline number on 0300 3032992. This ensures the fault is logged and a unique reference code generated for that particular defect, it also enables the fault to be tracked.