Parish Plan Section B2 - Village Infrastructure

B.2 Village Infrastructure

22. A very wide variety of infrastructure issues is evident from the closed and open-ended questions. Some are praising Barrow and some complaining. The specifics (traffic, shopping, etc) are listed, below, in order of the strength of feeling they seem to generate – for or against!

23. The most heated issue is a criticism with 49% rating the level of traffic congestion as “very poor” (B.1) and only 2% saying “don’t know”. This was the worst rating of any issue we asked about. For those living in the village there are few surprises:

• 30% say they are “pretty badly’ or ‘very badly” affected by traffic flows (C.4) with congestion at its worst (C.4 and C.5) in the morning and evening rush hours and at school closing times in the afternoons (particularly affecting High St/South St/ Bridge St/ Cotes Rd and the streets near to Hall Orchard school).

• And these are exacerbated when Slash Lane is flooded (C.14): 69% want Slash Lane and access to the A6 made so they don’t flood because of the knock-on effects in Barrow.

• Many other suggestions were made for improving traffic flows (C.6, C.12 and C.14) of which the most frequently cited are to enforce parking restrictions in the High St and Hall Orchard areas (74%), and to improve the flows over the Soar Bridge (eg by removing or phasing the traffic lights (46%), by creating a new footbridge for pedestrians and cyclists (27%), and a new raised walkway/cycleway from Barrow to Quorn (66%)). 30% said that the main reason they don’t cycle more is that they feel unsafe because of other traffic (C.11). There was relatively little support for the building of a by-pass (38%), which is somewhat at variance with earlier indications, so, perhaps, the options were not explained enough?

• The counterpart to improving traffic flows is traffic calming (C.12 and C.13) and the indications are that many want to stop speeding on the approach roads to the village but not, perhaps, if it results in slowing the traffic to the point of a standstill and causing more congestion. A delicate balance is needed in addressing these two sets of issues. That said, a case is made for a new pedestrian crossing in South St near to Bishop Beveridge Club and one across Fishpool way to the Millennium Park.

24. Criticism, too, of the condition of roads and pavements (30%, B.1) but without specific detail.

25. On a brighter note, the shopping facilities are particularly valued (eg 84% think them ‘very good’ or ‘fairly good’, B.1). It is important that changes made for other reasons (eg stopping parking in the High St) do not result in shop closures. It will not be easy to achieve a suitable balance between such competing issues but the community ought to try to do so otherwise it might lose the very shops it requires to be a viable village. We did not ask what additional shops they would like to see but one specific, mentioned by several people in connection with stimulating tourism, is a perceived need for a café in the village centre (I.2). At the time of writing this, a small café has been opened at the baker’s shop in the High St.

26. The housing available – presumably its quality and variety? – is rated highly (eg 78% in B.1). That said, 167 people think there are not enough homes to be rented, 120 want more starter homes to be built, and 64 want more homes for the elderly or disabled (J.1 – J.4). And one of the most frequently mentioned comments is that Barrow is growing too big and “we don’t want any more new houses” (F.1). The cost of living seems to be reasonable (73% agree in B.1).

27. Barrow produced a Village Design Statement some years ago but it seems that most of the community are unaware of its recommendations (52% say they are not aware, F.3) and 44 respondents (4%, F.4) say that they have made major external changes to their home in the last few years but did not follow the Village Design Statement (against that, 72 respondents, 6%, say that they did).

28. The Health Services, too, are highly regarded (78% approval, B.1). However, nearly 20% of all respondents living in Barrow are not registered at the Barrow health centre preferring other services, mainly those at Sileby (J.1). J.3 and J.4 asked searching questions of the Barrow health services and elicited a wide variety of comments:

• Overall it is well liked - and there were no adverse comments about the quality of health care provided - but there are severe criticisms of the ways in which the services are organised and their capacity [eg it is not easy to get through to the centre by phone (23%), it is not easy to make an appointment (28%), you have to wait a long time to get treatment (13%), it is difficult to get a home visit (15%) or treatment in the evenings, at night or at the weekend (30%), you have to queue for an appointment (3%)]. These tend to be seen as the result of the centre being overstretched with not enough doctors/too many patients. A few people ask whether we should have a second practice to provide competition and increase the supply of services (eg near the new Willow Way development). One practical suggestion: have a covered porch in which to wait until the surgery opens? (J.4)

29. There is less demand for other forms of welfare services but 322 (27%) households report having someone with a long-term illness or disability (J.5) and 37 (J.6) want more help (eg with housing and services). 97 (8%) are carers for someone with a long-term illness or disability (J.7) and 24 (2%) want more help J.8). 22 (2%) want more help from social services (J.9) but many more, 243 (20%), say they don’t know how to get help if they needed it (J.10).

30. The issue of car parking in the village has many facets and raises conflicting and, sometimes, strong comments:

• Most (64%, C.7) think that it is usually easy to find short-term parking and 16% (C.7) think that finding long-term parking is easy. A vocal minority think exactly the opposite and say that it is often hard to find parking - 188 respondents, 16%, (C.7) complain about short-term and 37 respondents, 3%, (C.7) complain about long-term parking. Set this against the fact that substantial numbers of people use their vehicles to shop in Barrow (40%, C.1) or drive children to playgroups, schools, etc (8%, C.1). Of course, as suggested by several people, the ‘solution’ – if one accepts that there is a problem in the provision of car parking spaces - is to encourage people to walk to the shops and the schools (especially the schools!). This is underlined by complaints about traffic congestion in and around Hall Orchard (especially) and Humphrey Perkins at the start and end of the school day. Actually, we are surprised that more people have not complained: perhaps those who are responsible for the congestion didn’t think to speak out against it? No one can doubt that there is a considerable problem with school traffic and anti-social parking near the schools.

• But the parking issue that agitates people, above all others, is the matter of people parking on the pavements (which does seem to have become a fashion all over the country): 76% want to stop all parking on the pavements (C.12) especially in the High St (C.13). Pedestrians (especially wheelchair users) are enraged by inconsiderate parking on pavements (C.9) with 340 respondents (29%, C.10) giving it as a reason for not making more journeys as a pedestrian in Barrow. The frequent requests for traffic wardens and stricter policing are very much tied up, we think, with this desire to control parking on the pavements.

•Against this is the point, made earlier, that several shopkeepers in the High St and North St rely upon a passing trade – not necessarily from village residents. They do want vehicles to be able to stop and park near their shops. Whether they should be allowed to continue parking on the pavements or on the zigzag lines of the zebra crossings or in the ‘rush hours’ is another matter. But the need to facilitate the passing trade is real and should not be overlooked. In that context, note that some people mention that they are reluctant to use the village car parks at night because they fear for their car’s and for their own safety. They complain, in particular, about the poor lighting of the car parks - Sommerfield’s and the old station. Whether or not this would stop people parking outside the take-aways in the High St and North St is a moot point.

• Long-term parking is a problem for those considering using trains on the Ivanhoe line (563, 47%, C.18).

31. Comments on crime and policing are closely related. Overall, there seems not to be a great fear of crime in Barrow (but note we do not have comparisons with other villages and crime is often underreported): Barrow is rated as “very good” or “fairly good” by 75% of respondents and only 9% think it “very poor”(B.1). It is possible that those most worried are the elderly but we have not done that analysis. 26% say they feel unsafe in parts of Barrow (D.2), especially after dark “where youths congregate” and in the poorly lit jitties (D.3). It would be interesting to check whether this perceived fear of crime is matched by actual crime statistics. It may not be. Nevertheless, 18% say that they have personal experience of vandalism and graffiti; 15% of damage to a car; 8% of damage to their home; 7% of theft of property from the home; and 3% of violence against the person – all in Barrow (D.1). We asked, too, about various forms of anti-social behaviour (D.4): the biggest complaints were about animals (27% - mainly dog fouling and noise) and nuisance from vehicles (24% - mainly parking on the pavement or encroachment by neighbours). Interestingly, 14 (1%) complained of rough sleepers and 11 (1%) of prostitution.

32. Along with these comments, a few people complain that the police are not much in evidence in the village (D.1) and that, when they are, they ignore parking infringements (that concern again!). We did not ask about other emergency services but a few people complained that fire engines and ambulances can find it impossible to access some streets (Church St and Beveridge St especially) due to inconsiderate car parking. That is a worry even if it affects few people.

33. A long series of questions (H.3 – H.17) asked about the local playgroups and schools. Note, however, that relatively few people have children of school age so the numbers expressing an opinion are correspondingly lower than for other questions. Note, too, that although the questions were addressed to those with children of particular ages, now, more people have responded than said they have children going to these schools. We suspect that people whose children attended these schools recently felt able to comment. This is helpful in that it swells the baseline numbers but it does mean that these numbers jump about a bit and make it a little tricky to know which number to quote in some instances. So, in this section, we are not using the ‘1190 respondents’ as the baseline for percentages used elsewhere. We quote the actual numbers answering in a particular way which varies from question to question:

• 102 households said they had children of pre-school age (H.3) and 82 said they sent them to one or other of the Barrow playgroups (H.4). We did not ask what they thought about the playgroups – they had space to write in comments if they so chose but almost no one did so. Seven people said they would send children to the Barrow playgroups if they had all-day provisions for working parents (H.5). The same point may be behind the request, from 73 people (J.11) that they want more help with childcare?

• 147 households said they had children of primary school age (H.6) and 135 that they sent them to Hall Orchard (H.7). About three quarters rated it as “excellent” or “very good”. The main criticisms offered were that class sizes are too big (11 people) and that security is poor (10 people).

• 110 households said they had children of high school age (H10) and that 85 sent them to Humphrey Perkins (H.11). Only about a third rated it as “excellent” or “very good” (H.12). Many adverse comments were offered (H.13) but there was no common theme.

• 105 households said they had children of upper school age (H14) and that 75 sent them to Rawlins in Quorn (H.15). Only about a quarter rated it as “excellent” or “very good’ (H.16). Again, there was no common theme to the open-ended comments (H.17).

34. Closely related is the issue of sports and youth facilities. We did not ask for comments about the existing facilities (we will document these in a separate paper): instead we asked about the idea of “a new, multi-purpose facility for sports and youth activities – that is a building in which a variety of active pursuits can take place? (Not a full leisure centre as at Loughborough or Mountsorrel, but a facility with room for indoor sports and, perhaps, an all weather outdoor pitch)…. Are you for or against this in principle?”. The context for this is a concern that there is little provision being made for teenagers (see more comments in B.5 on that later) and the fact that the Youth Club at Humphrey Perkins has been closed recently by the school. We note that Humphrey Perkins has started planning for a school-based ‘sports barn’. We would hope that such a facility – if it comes to pass – will take into account the needs of the community as a whole.

• 1130 replied to this question (G.8)which is a particularly high response rate. It suggests that the issue is very important to the community. The replies were:

31% strongly in favour
39% in favour
18% don’t know
5% against
3% strongly against

• 179 added open-ended comments (G.9) of which the most frequent were: it needs to provide activities for young people and it needs to be open access to the whole community (meaning, perhaps, that existing sports facilities at the schools have restricted access for the rest of the community?).

35. Questions G.1 – G.4 were open-ended and asked about sports, activities, clubs and societies people do or want to try. The list runs to several pages, many of which are undertaken outside the village because there are no suitable facilities in Barrow. It is inconceivable that Barrow should try to provide for every interest but the list will be useful to those planning new ventures and buildings. See, also, para 59 for comments by young people.

36. Related, as well, is the issue of social facilities in the village. We did not ask for comments about the existing facilities (we will document these separately): instead we asked “ It has been suggested that we need a new, large, multi-purpose building (like a village hall) for social activities. Do you agree?” The context for this is a perception in the community that the existing facilities at Humphrey Perkins (including the Community Lounge partly funded by the village) are less available than they used to be.

• 1145 replied to this question (G.10) which is a particularly high response rate. It suggests that the issue is very important to the community. The replies were:

26% strongly in favour
39% in favour
18% don’t know
11% against
3% strongly against

• 230 added open-ended comments (G.11) of which the most frequent were: existing halls are good enough (117 respondents), that it could reduce revenue to existing halls in the village (22 respondents) not just the schools, and that it needs to be placed centrally (21). Several asked for somewhere for parties and wedding receptions and the like implying, perhaps, that existing venues are not seen as suitable? A few, however, made the point that it made more sense to work with the schools to achieve a mutually beneficial solution to the present impasse than to strike out independently.

37. We asked a lot of questions about public transport (C.1, C.15 – C.18). 62% think the available public transport is “very good’ or fairly good” (B.1) and 26% (C.2) say they use the buses to go shopping in Loughborough (84% use cars instead or as well). The buses and trains are criticised, particularly, for a poor service in the evenings and at weekends (C.16 and C.18) and, the Ivanhoe train for lack of parking near the Barrow station and for the difficulties people have in getting to and from the platforms if they are disabled or using a pushchair.

38. The library is much valued (H.18 – H.20) with 50% saying they use it (mainly for borrowing books) and praising the helpfulness of the staff. However, 46% want it open longer and more frequently.

39. As well as asking about playgroups we asked about the village playgrounds for young children (G.12 – G.15). Nearly everyone replied – indicating that it is seen as important – but nearly half said “don’t know” or “not applicable” (G.12). Of those to who expressed an opinion, most think the existing playgrounds are “good” or “OK” but they do want improvements: more playgrounds (Willow Way/Fishpool Way/Sileby Rd), more imaginative play equipment, facilities for children with disabilities, and they want them better maintained and much cleaner.

40. Only 17% say they attend adult education classes (H.1). 27% say they are not interested and 14% that classes are not appropriate (H.2). We did not ask what they would prefer.

41. 32% say that job prospects in Barrow are poor (B.1) and 21% (M.2) that there is a lack of suitable jobs. Only 12 people say that job prospects are poor because of their lack of skills M.2). M.1 asked about the ages of those looking for work. According to this, at least:

• 48 aged 16 – 21 yrs old
• 69 aged 22 – 60 yrs old
• 23 aged 60+ yrs old

are looking for work.

42. A possibly related issue is that 103 (9%) say they offer a business or service based in Barrow (M.3) and 63 of these would like to be in a Village Directory (M.4).

43. Finally, as regards infrastructure, H.21 - H.23 asked about IT and communications in the village. There seem to be particular problems with reception for mobile phones (19%), access to broadband (17%), reception for Freeview TV (13%), and digital radio (8%). That said, quite a few people say they don’t need such things. A few are prepared to help with public access computing (19) and some (41) with the village website but there is considerable ignorance of these topics (eg 44% saying they don’t know whether the village website is a great source of information about Barrow (I.1)).

 
 

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Last Updated. 16-June-2018 By admin