Tag Archives: east midlands

A death in Hucknall

A funeral takes place in Nottinghamshire today. The Hucknall Dispatch reported on Sunday:

A LARGE congregation is expected to pay its respects at the funeral of a well-known Hucknall grandad who was killed in a tragic road-accident.

Cyclist Alan Davies (58), of Polperro Way, died after he and an articulated lorry collided on Watnall Road, Hucknall, near the Rolls-Royce site on Tuesday September 27 at 7 am.

His funeral is scheduled for Hucknall Parish Church on Market Place at 2.45 pm next Thursday (October 13). Cremation will follow at Mansfield Crematorium before a get-together at The Hucknall Empire pub and restaurant on Morven Avenue, off Beardall Street, from 4 pm.

As well as his wife, Dorothy, Mr Davies leaves three children — Danny (38), who now lives in Huddersfield, Kimberley (29) and Charlotte (28). He also leaves five grandchildren.

His family and friends have been devastated by the tragedy.

A man with strong connections to local football, Mr Davies was well known in Hucknall. He stood as an Independent candidate in the Hucknall West ward at the Ashfield District Council elections earlier this year.

A former fitter at the now-closed Linby Colliery, Mr Davies was also an avid writer of poetry and an expert on Lord Byron.

His family say he “had Hucknall at his heart”.

An inquest into Mr Davies’s death was opened and adjourned at Nottingham Coroner’s Court on Tuesday.

As reported in the Dispatch, Mr Davies died 30 years after his five-year-old son, Julian, was killed in a road accident on Annesley Road in Hucknall.

It was the top Google News report when I was looking for coverage of the Hucknall “Town Centre Improvement Scheme”, a Development Pool project seeking £8.5 million to pedestrianise the town’s High Street… by demolishing eighteen houses to make way for a bloated new “inner relief road” linking the two streets named in this news item. I have never been to Hucknall, but Nottinghamshire must have a pretty low opinion of the town if they think that this an “improvement”.

It’s another of those roads that council officers have been drawing and re-drawing for fifty years — and it wouldn’t look out of place in the 1970s. Perhaps the current head of highways drew it himself, as a lad, in a junior position decades ago?

Hucknall already has a bypass, the A611, built in the early 1990s. It only has a High Street traffic problem now because it failed then to do anything to prevent the town centre being used as a ratrun.

Like all these Development Pool plans, it all sounds very nice in the sales pitch — all this new walking and cycling and public transport provision:

1.2 What are/were the primary objectives of the scheme? Please limit this to the primary objectives (ideally no more than 3) the problems to which this scheme is the solution.

• To promote the renewal and regeneration of Hucknall town centre and create an attractive and prosperous retail centre;

• To improve the quality of life in and around the town centre by enhancing the quality of environment for pedestrians, whilst providing cycle facilities in the vicinity of the town centre, and improving links between different parts of the town and achieving greater integration with the tram/rail interchange;

• To make best use of highway assets by reducing levels of traffic congestion through Hucknall town centre and enhancing the status of public transport in order to encourage a modal shift away from the private car and improve bus service

You wouldn’t even guess that most of the money will be spent on demolishing 18 houses and building a big new town centre road, to the most walking and cycling unfriendly design possible for a road of its class.

“Enhanced pedestrian and cycle facilities together with environmental improvements throughout the town centre will be provided.”

What are those “enhanced” pedestrian and cycle facilities? A 3.0 metre shared pavement has been specified. A new source for the Facility Of The Month, perhaps. Maybe there will be a while line down the middle, giving pedestrians and cyclists each their 1.5m share of the pavement.

Three metres is the bare minimum for an adequate dedicated bidirectional cycle track. Anybody who proposes in an official document that cyclists and pedestrians share a 3.0m pavement in a busy town centre should have their bid laughed out of the Pool. There should be legislation stating exactly that: setting proper standards and disqualifying the bids of councils and agencies who don’t meet those standards. But what’s this?

Are you proposing any changes of scope from the scheme as described in Section 1? If yes, please describe in detail the changes you are proposing. Please also attach explanatory maps, diagrams etc. as appropriate.

• Localised narrowing of the 3m cycleway/ footway. This would deliver a cost saving of £100,000 as a result of reduced land take and retaining wall construction

I don’t take the linking of a personal tragedy to a political campaigning issue lightly. But tragedies like these are entirely predictable. When you build big roads and unusable “facilities”, and send articulated lorries through town centres and residential neighbourhoods, people are going to die. Nottinghamshire have killed a man and they plan to kill again — with £8.5 million of our money, if they can get their hands on it.

The DfT are accepting comments on Development Pool proposals until the end of tomorrow, Friday, on development.pool@dft.gsi.gov.uk.

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In which I have to agree with the ABD

…that remedial lectures are not an appropriate alternative to prosecution for people who use mobile phones while driving. Stopped clocks, and all that. Rather less frequently than twice a day in the ABD’s case.

Lincolnshire, amongst others, are extending their remedial courses — the sort that are already widely offered as an alternative to prosecution for those caught driving too fast — to those caught using phones while driving. Greville Burgess, principal road safety coordinator for the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, claims that such courses “could save lives”, but, this being a local newspaper, no evidence or source for the claim is cited. Burgess says:

“The evidence from other diversionary courses is very positive in that nationally less than 1 per cent re-offend within three years of completing the course. This strongly suggests that education rather than simple penalty points and a fine is more effective.”

But the latter does not follow from the former: Burgess does not give us the re-offending rates for those who take the penalty points. Is there really a statistically significant difference in rates at which people are caught — mark that, caught* — re-offending depending on which sentence they picked? But then, the utility of such numbers would be compromised anyway by the very fact that the offender picks the sentence: there is no randomisation in the groups we are comparing. The person who thinks that £60 and the points is the more lenient sentence might be very different to the sort of person who would rather spend £80 on the day-long remedial course. (Of course, both sentences look to me like absurdly light ways to deal with those who endanger the lives of others, but…)

This is the sort of intervention that is perfectly suited to a proper randomised controlled trial. While we’re at it, we could see whether combining the interventions — prosecution and remedial education — works better than either one on its own. If education really does work so well, why not make it a compulsory addition rather than an optional alternative to prosecution?

I don’t know what evidence Burgess thinks he has for his claim that these courses save lives, or are better than the alternatives, and I can’t find any likely candidates in the literature. But there is plenty of research on the topic, and a review of all the best evidence we have on driver education programmes — 32 properly randomised and controlled trials of advanced and remedial driver education programmes.  They found that the courses entirely failed to prevent re-offending.

And so far as I know, nobody has ever thought to investigate whether there might be side-effects to these policies. We have a prime-minister who sees moral hazard everywhere he looks, and is worried about whether we have sufficient deterrents to crime. We should not limit our assessment of driver education programmes merely to the rate of re-offending amongst participants. We must look at the wider and less immediately obvious effects of classifying mobile phone use while driving as the type of activity that merely merits spending a day getting a good talking to from a retired policeman. Perhaps there are no such side-effects. We don’t know until we look.

But I almost forgot. The prime-minister is also keen on some offenders being allowed their second chance.

I fear that this is now the second time I have found myself siding with the Association of British Drivers. But if I were to write about them every time they said something totally batshit crazy, I’d never get a moment’s rest.

* my own entirely unscientific observation is that, despite being universally recognised as extremely moronic behaviour, mobile phone use while driving is very common. The capture rate must be pretty embarrassing. I fear the 1% re-offending rate says far more about the efficacy of the policing than the efficacy of any remedies.