Many questions were left unanswered regarding traffic concerns in Dobcross following the public meeting at Dobcross Band Club on Monday 28th July.
The meeting organised by the Dobcross Village Community Association (DVC) and chaired by local journalist and DVC member, Ken Bennett, explored concerns about increased traffic problems in and around the village.
A panel of local politicians and council officers including: Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth; Paul Groves, Principal Engineer with Unity Partnership; Cllr David Hibbert, cabinet member housing, planning and highways and Michelle Carr, assistant executive director, fielded questions from over eighty local residents about a wide range of issues from parking, safety and speed to the potential impact on the village’s roads and footpaths from the possible relocation of Saddleworth School to Diggle.
Unable to answer and address many of the public’s questions, the panel promised to take resident’s concerns into account. Cllr Hibbert said, “Local knowledge is important and I understand residents fears and frustrations as they are the same across the borough.”
Although not on the original meeting agenda many Dobcross residents emphasised strongly that the school move to Diggle was a mistake and would ultimately compound the traffic problem in Dobcross. A Dobcross resident also asked why a petition of 3000 signatures was ignored by Oldham Council.
A local resident pointed out that Dobcross is a special case in that it has narrow roads with few footpaths. Buses, cars and pedestrians compete for limited space and this space is decreasing year on year.
Debbie Abrahams MP said, “We need to make sure residents needs and concerns are listened to and ensure that what we provide reflects those needs. It’s important to treasure this beautiful village and after recently walking through I accept that it’s difficult. One reality is, we want a 21st century lifestyle and that involves the use of the car. We have to look closely at the transport alternatives and respond with active transport policies. Your opinions are important and we have to be a listening council.”
Cllr Mike Buckley said, “I am concerned about the potential damage to the character of the village and the impact of increased traffic resulting from proposed highway changes. The current proposals have the potential to turn Dobcross into a ‘rat run’.”
Michelle Carr said, “We have taken onboard comments from residents and councillors and we will be working to ensure Dobcross does not become a ‘rat run’. We’re here to listen to residents and will add your ideas and comments to the development of the highway. ”
Cllr Keith Lucas and Councillor Rob Knotts both pointed out that there needs to be an infrastructure that can cope with the demands of the 21st century and that this should have been considered before a site for the school was chosen. If the school was to remain in Uppermill, the problems facing Dobcross would be less complex.”
Cllr Garth Harkness said that, “[in relation to traffic management], it would be important to enforce traffic controls such
as speed limits and solutions to parking problems on Dobcross New Road would have to be identified.”
When asked, by a Dobcross resident, “Can the panel be confident that you will be able to deliver a safe appropriate scheme?” Cllr Hibbert responded by saying, “We can’t please everybody but we will work for the best possible outcome.”
Michelle Carr closed the meeting by saying that the highway proposals and the Saddleworth School planning application, when available, will go on to a public portal on Oldham Council’s website where members of the public will be able to comment and add their views. There will also be another public consultation at that point.
When the above information is available, it will be published by local community associations and through all local news outlets.