I had a very interesting and enlightening meeting with Anglian Water at lunchtime today, part of the purpose of which was to discover the rationale behind their recent closure of the parking pull-ins on Pitsford causeway. The other part was to explore ways in which the decision might be reversed. Don’t hold your breath. It isn’t going to happen any time soon.
So let’s look at some facts. Pitsford causeway is part-owned by the local council and part-owned by AW. The council owns, maintains and is generally responsible for the road itself. AW owns, maintains and is generally responsible for the two pull-ins, the grass verges and of course, being part of the reservoir, the concrete slab structure over which the road runs.
AW told me there were two reasons for the closure. First and foremost, with the increased use of the pull-ins, AW had recently chalked up a number of ‘near misses’ relating to potential road collisions involving both pedestrians and cars pulling out. Secondly, the pull-ins have fallen into a poor state of repair, their surfaces having become uneven and pot-holed. AW obtained quotations to resurface the pull-ins and the cost was deemed prohibitive at approximately £20,000. So, if any incident takes place on AW’s property they are potentially liable.
OK, so it’s principally a safety issue and I get that. However, it’s like squeezing a bag of sealed air, the suppression of one risk gives rise to a new one popping up elsewhere to replace it. Now that both sides of the causeway are fully stumped off, there is nowhere for the police speed camera van to park up, so with its future absence, coupled with increased visibility for motorists (remember, no parked cars from behind which anyone can run out), it seems inevitable that motorists will ramp up the speed. This, I pointed out, is an added new danger for pedestrians crossing the causeway – even more so for those who have taken to parking their cars on the verge, just beyond where the stumps finish.
And therein lies another story. The causeway road is a clearway and it’s technically illegal to park on the verge, I’m informed by AW. They also told me the Brixworth police were already on to it and will place warning notices on windscreens of offenders, duly noting registration numbers so that repeat offenders will ultimately be issued with parking fines. So, if you don’t want to be nobbled by the local rozzers, don’t park on the verge.
I then floated the idea of AW approaching the council with a request that they install traffic-calming measures (road humps to you and me) on the causeway and, if this was implemented and a mystery donor came up with £20k, would they consider reopening the pull-ins? “Maybe,” was the reply but the chances of these two things happening are nigh on negligible – unless, of course, one of us wins the lottery or a kindly benefactor steps forward with the requisite amount of cash.
The idea of allowing 15 minutes free parking on the causeway, after which people paid using the P&D machine in the car park along with another P&D machine at the fishing lodge end of the causeway, ultimately using the extra revenue generated to fund resurfacing the pull-ins, didn’t fly either. This, of course, was again down to cost. There would be the cost of regular patrolling, each machine costs approximately £5000 and the machines are vulnerable to theft and damage. In fact, the one in the car park at the Brixworth end of the causeway was stolen just recently and AW are waiting for a new one. I’m just waiting for someone to pin it on me as a result of my previous post on this subject!
I also asked the question: “Would AW be prepared to allow members of the Wildlife Trust free use of the existing P&D car park on the causeway?” The answer went along the lines of “No, it gets too busy [with people who buy tickets taking the spaces] and the car park at the fishing lodge is already free to park in for day permit holders and Wildlife Trust members.” The words in square-brackets were not actually spoken but it was immediately apparent (to me) as implied.
So there you have it. I’ve tried and frankly I’m stumped. No more parking on the causeway. Period. I was open-minded to begin with but, let’s face it, it is all about money – cost-saving or revenue-generating, or both. Good old unyielding, uncompromising AW. I salute you!
4 thoughts on “Stumping up the cash part 2: the AW angle”
Well done for trying, Mike … now where’s that chainsaw …
My third attempt to post, so sorry if repetitive. I am deeply hurt and annoyed at this development. Pitsford has always been a special place for me, which I save up and visit only a few times a year. I don’t object to paying for car parking (despite having already bought a permit AND paid my water bill!) but the opening hours are too restricted for birding, especially in winter. After all, it can take a day to walk round the Reserve end, and I have often finished it in the dark. AW has created just the same problem at Grafham. As there, I will be looking at creative solutions to the access problem, and it is unlikely in those circumstances I will bother stopping to buy a permit. AW–you disgust me!
Thanks, Chris. Obviously I share your frustration. You can always join the Wildlife Trust and get from them a free annual visitor’s permit for Pitsford, which also covers other sites. Car parking for WT members is free at the fishing lodge but I don’t know what time they lock the gate there.
They AW as in many previous scenarios in the past, have completely lost the plot. Just back from Spain, no probs there with parking at reserves, actually encouraged. No nanny state, or speed cameras, sombero here I come when its 36C in the shade at Sierra del Las Nieves, rant rant!
Must get my free pass now from WT.