Notes from the meeting held on Saturday 5th September 2020
Present: Dawn Lyle, Jane Tonks, John Sayce, Hedley Austin, Laura Reynolds, Mark Robinson, Mary Sherwood, Nick Davies, Brigid Haines.
Apologies: Nick Guy, Deryl Dix, Rob Humphreys, Jenny Wyatt
Everyone introduced themselves and briefly described what they’ve being doing since last time.
Dawn: Joint ‘convener’ (with Jane) and acts as Chair of Uplands Living Streets (LS). She reiterated the purpose of the group—to work together for a cleaner, greener Uplands, which is more people friendly and which encourages everyday walking.
Jane: Long-time resident of Uplands, interested in everyday walking and sustainable transport. Joint ‘convener’ with Dawn and acts as Secretary of the group.
John: has lived at the top of the ward for 25 years, interested and involved in lots of activities in Uplands. Chair of Wheelrights, and has volunteered to act as Treasurer of Uplands LS.
Brigid: has started as a volunteer leading a weekly walking group from Swansea Wellbeing Centre. (Book through the Swansea Wellbeing Centre website)
(Brigid also brought apologies from Jenny who is keen to get a community veg garden going in the St James church grounds, and hopes to attend these meetings in future.)
Hedley: Long-term resident of Uplands and Chair of the Friends of Cwmdonkin Park–a very active group supporting this important and busy local landmark park.
Mark: Long-term resident and since lockdown a local worker too! Mark helps out at the market and is one of the local litter pickers. (He brings apologies from Deryl)
Laura: A freelance artist living at the top of the Ward. Interested in air quality issues and planting schemes. Has direct experience of how poor air quality can affect people’s everyday lives.
Mary: Long-term Uplands resident and Councillor for the ward since 2017. Her two children attend/ed the local schools. Pointed out the numerous green spaces and parks in the Ward (Brynmill, Singleton, Cwmdonkin, Victoria parks, St James Gdns, Rosehill Quarry, Primrose Hill).
Top of Mary’s agenda in this group is road safety; are numerous accidents at all the junctions in the ward. However, unless they result in a casualty or fatality they are not recorded in the statistics, so we don’t get a clear picture of road safety issues in the area. Speed surveys have recently been undertaken to add to our knowledge.
Nick: Local Councillor for the area for 13 years and an ex-Governor of Brynmill School. He is Sustainable Transport Champion in the Council, which covers everything except the private car. Is concerned that the pressure to get ‘back to normal’ post-lockdown has resulted in missed opportunities to change the way we live. Although there is now more cycling, currently is also less use of public transport, with people feeling safer in their cars.
Keen to link with St James Church who have undertaken lots of work with refugees; really positive and highlights Swansea’s strength as an inclusive and welcoming city.
Jane and John introduced three areas / ideas for discussion. One or more of these could form the focus of our first campaigns.
1) Uplands Crescent from Sketty Rd / Glanmor Rd junction, down to junction with Gwydr Sq:
- Over time the road between Subway on one side and Tesco’s on the other has developed into a 5 lane space for traffic, to the detriment of pedestrians who are pushed to the margins on narrowing pavements.
- Formal crossing points too far apart and difficult to navigate. (Pavement at the crossing outside Noah’s Yard is a pinchpoint, with limited or no space for people / buggies / wheelchairs.) To cross higher up Sketty Road pedestrians must navigate a very busy Glanmor Road with cars speeding to beat the lights.
- Parking at Tesco’s is potentially dangerous-cars reversing into busy traffic, and the spaces are often cluttered with metal cages from the supermarket.
- Mark lives on the junction at Glanmor Rd and witnesses near misses daily. Very fast traffic, car-on-car accidents, people injured in one case, confrontations.
- Generally agreed that the pavement outside Noah’s Yard and at Subway not functional. Disabled people and people with buggies struggle to traverse and not possible to ‘social distance’.
- People corralled away from the traffic, and has become accepted that pedestrians must wait for the push button crossing to allow them across, rather than giving people priority over vehicles.
- Waiting times for pedestrians far too long, again indicating that traffic dominates. The balance needs to shift back to pedestrians.
- Refuge in the road at the eastern end of Uplands Crescent, opposite the Bookshop Bar, works really well. Perhaps we need more of these at other points in the road?
2) Uplands Terrace and The Grove ‘green corridor’:
- John met with Hedley, Anne and Rob to discuss developing a green corridor from Cwmdonkin Park, around the Grove and via a one-way traffic arrangement down Uplands Terrace to facilitate a safer and more pleasant route.
- Green space in the Grove currently not very usable. If changes were made to make one of the roads two way and another one way, and residents parking reorganised, it would result in a much better green space without any loss of parking.
- Traffic has been calmed by the introduction of the barrier on Uplands Cres. at the bottom of Uplands Terrace. Helps to meet pedestrians’ ‘desire lines’ for crossing. Planters and new traffic arrangements on Uplands Terrace could greatly improve the whole area, making it slower, safer, greener.
- Need to be looking at many more one-way streets in Uplands. Where done in Sandfields it has led to greatly reduced speeds and less traffic overall.
- Parking is an issue, but there is a (very under-used) car park at the surgery in the Grove. In a new arrangement residents’ parking would move but not be reduced.
- However, a one-way system on Uplands Terrace was recommended by road safety experts some time ago, but was strong opposition from residents, and the idea was abandoned.
3) Beechwood Road:
- A one-way arrangement on Beechwood Road would allow for introduction of a cycle lane, resulting in a safe route from Uplands to Brynmill Park.
- Beechwood Road relatively wide and so a good candidate for a cycle lane. There are long stretches of it which don’t have houses facing onto the street, so perhaps more acceptable.
- Bernard Street rat-run—could traffic-calming measures be introduced here?
- Under discussion in the Council, but speed bumps are expensive and lead to increased wear and tear on the road surface.
- Could Gwydr Cres, Knoll Avenue and Beechwood Road be chicaned and made one-way?
- Variety of possibilities being looked at because all the intersections in the area have poor visibility. Highway Code recommends no parking within 10 metres of junctions, so double yellow lines have been introduced on some of these in Brynmill / Uplands.
- Other suggestions to increase road safety (e.g. planters in road to slow traffic down) have led to resident campaigns against them if there is any suggestion of parking being reduced, and from businesses if delivery lorries affected. Also important to remember that the straightest roads where there are most problems (Pantygwydr Road, Ernald Place and Bernard Street) are bus routes, so this is an added issue.
- Could changing the road surfaces help to slow traffic down at least? Such measures have been used very successfully in other towns and cities in the UK.
- Could this group provide examples from the UK and around the world? Might help to make the case with Highways Officers and residents.
- Rat –runs unacceptable in any community, so solutions need to be discussed and tried. The changes made in Sandfields were not opposed by residents.
- Important that this group is clear that it is pro-pedestrian. This will sometimes inconvenience car drivers, but we shouldn’t cut ourselves off from new ideas that lead to behaviour change, and the bigger purpose—to improve things for everyone. Uncomfortable ideas must be discussed.
Despite the fact that everything has a knock on effect, and there might be opposition to counter, what ideas do we want to pursue?
- Could the Cycle Action Programme meeting look at the Beechwood Road cycle lane idea to see what would work best in this area?
- Main road cycle routes also needed, as cycling into town from Uplands is a daunting option.
- Discussions well advanced on the cycle lane from Uplands. An urban design consultancy has been engaged by the Council to look at it. Wheelrights and Councillors fully in favour of a cycle lane of some sort.
- Lockdown has led to heavy emphasis on cars at present so things aren’t easy. Car lobby very strong.
- Two schools of thought re cycle lanes—do cyclists want dedicated lanes on roads, or paths on quieter, safer streets away from most traffic?
- Doesn’t have to be one or the other, can do both; cycle lanes on major roads can be bollarded so cyclists are separate and feel safe from traffic.
- Whichever is preferred the lanes have to be wider and fit for purpose, otherwise cyclists may use pavements (dangerous and unacceptable).
- Are there any spaces for pocket parks in Uplands? Lots potential to introduce greenery on small areas of unused / ignored land.
- Example : Primrose Hill community garden, Mount Pleasant—veg grown, fruit trees, book space, swings, meeting area. Lovely views. All residents keen.
- Land attached to Stella Maris care home on Eaton Cres; could a multi –generational project work there with local young people and the residents?
- Hoogah ‘Room to Grow’, could be involved. Good to connect St James’ Church with them—might provide a positive example to build on at the old convent?
- Can we reclaim some of the back lanes? These are under-utilised, often derelict resources that could be cleaned, opened up. Help to connect the area and could provide safe and pleasant routes through. (Middlesbrough cited as an example).
- Making them open access risks them being vandalised and they need to feel safe to use in the dark and for people walking alone, but there is potential.
- Some back lanes are better, with more potential than others. Need to map them, survey their condition and possibilities.
- Council’s view is that if people are prepared to look after them and don’t create anything offensive, happy for them to be adopted. No formal approvals needed provided all residents are agreed (Example: ‘Keep the Mount Pleasant’)
- Mark has a contact in Cardiff; project helping people in towns grow veg. Funding available but few applications so far.
- Need to ask traders about what they want too. They are not a homogeneous group and we need to hear their views.
1. Mapping the back lanes: Jane will contact Brigid and Deryl and they will undertake a back lanes mapping exercise, note connecting routes, take photos etc.
2. WhatsApp group: email to be sent to all Uplands LS members to ask if want to join.
3. Promoting the Group:
a) Need good comms. Stall at Uplands market end September—John, Dawn, Jane willing to contribute to £45 cost. John to book a stall.
Flip chart shoppers views about our ideas. Maybe promote a ‘Give us back our pavement’ (outside Subway) campaign. All members to share staffing of stall- Jane to send out rota for members to note availability.
b) Laura to mock up leaflet for the group, to include detail on tasks and activities; may be a way to encourage people to get involved. Jane to check with national LS re accessing start-up grant to print leaflet.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Nick: Briefly discussed air pollution levels in Uplands. Nick has some data which Larrie Nicholas, local scientist has analysed. Larrie to be invited to next meeting to discuss.
Jane: to circulate the info on the national LS discussion meeting Weds 16th September (on pedestrianisation schemes, pavement widening etc.
Dawn: encouraged people to send articles / opinion pieces for the webpage.
Date of next meeting to follow.