A forum which will continually assess the impact of heavy commercial vehicles (HCVs) on Staffordshire roads and agree realistic mitigation measures has been launched with a successful first meeting.
The Staffordshire Freight and Community Forum met for the first time last month. It is the first group of its kind to be set up in Staffordshire and follows community sessions to discuss the issue which led to a county council select committee report. Forum members include the county council, Highways England, relevant parish councils, police, fire and rescue service, the Freight Transport Association, Road Haulage Association, chambers of commerce and HS2 group.
With one of the busiest motorways in the country running through Staffordshire as well as major trunk roads such as the A38 and A50, the forum will aim to gain a better understanding of planned maintenance programmes of Highway England, which manages them. These works have significant impact on Staffordshire and the communities living on or near diversion routes.
Among the initial subjects discussed were the impact of HCVs on the A515, the future siting of lorry parks, planning conditions for future developments including HS2 and future traffic surveys. The forum has made a request to the county council to update Staffordshire’s Freight Strategy as soon as funding is available.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport Mark Deaville said:
We have for some time been in discussion with communities across Staffordshire about the impact of HCVs on local roads. As a result, we launched the county’s first freight forum last month – giving us a dedicated platform to discuss the important issues. Parish councils from Draycott, Yoxall and Kings Bromley attended the meeting, therefore representing the views of the local residents. Their input is essential as it hugely important that a balance is achieved between community issues and commercial logistical requirements. We have the right organisations around the table and all are striving to ensure our communities and businesses understand each other.
“The first meeting was a great success and has given us a positive outlook moving forward. We recognise there are particular issues where traffic comes off trunk roads and we all understand there are no easy solutions. This is a national issue and in Staffordshire we have one of the largest road networks out of any council area in the country. The forum enables us to be as proactive as is realistically possible with a common sense approach. We can only aim to mitigate some of these issues by working together. Forum members will be upfront and honest about what is achievable with budgets and timescales considered. The forum will also do all it can to make Staffordshire’s voice heard at Government level and ongoing dialogue with MPs is also essential.”
The county council’s Prosperous Staffordshire select committee held two day-long consultation sessions in the autumn of 2015 with residents, local councillors, highways officers, emergency services and Highways England. This led to a report being published by the committee and the formation of the freight forum.
The next meeting of the forum will take place in March.