A petition calling for the urgent repair of the town’s flagstones has been launched today as part of a “Fix our Flags” campaign.
Driving the campaign with the rally call “we want our fair share”, are members of the local business community, conservationists and councillors.
Backed by The Clitheroe Advertiser and Times, Clitheroe Chamber of Trade, Clitheroe Civic Society and members of Clitheroe Town Action Group, want urgent action to repair Clitheroe’s crumbling flagstones.
Tony Gould, president of Clitheroe Chamber of Trade, said: “The state of the town’s pavements has an impact on local trade and our flagstones are in a terrible state!
“Everyone in the town is doing their best to increase footfall and the number of people who visit Clitheroe, but when they arrive here they are faced with a mismatch of cracked and loose flagstones, alongside sporadic areas of Tarmac.
“This is totally inappropriate particularly when you consider Clitheroe town centre is recognised as a conservation area and local businesses have to abide by the rules and regulations in keeping with a conservation area.”
Mr Gould, who runs Clitheroe town centre business Party People, added: “Petitions are being distributed to every shop in the town and members of the civic society will also be in town asking for people to sign the petition.
“The aim behind the campaign is to lobby the county council for long-overdue funding and action to repair our crumbling pavements.”
Coun. Kevin Horkin, who is Ribble Valley Borough Councillor for the St Mary’s ward and a member of C-TAG, said: “All we want is our fair share! In fact all we have ever wanted is our fair share!
“We don’t think we are being unreasonable. This is a matter of public safety.
“It shouldn’t be a matter of politics. Let’s get this into perspective. Simply because County Hall believes the Ribble Valley is an affluent area in parts doesn’t mean to say it is any less deserving of what are in fact basic services.
“In the same way Accrington, Burnley and Rawtenstall have all been the beneficiaries of large pavement improvement schemes in their town centres, which have not only improved their look and feel but have also made them much safer underfoot to walk about in, we deserve our fair share! We pay our Council Tax in just the same way as they do. Is it really too much to ask?”
Coun. Ged Mirfin explained this time last year C-TAG issued several Freedom of Information Requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 with data supplied by Lancashire County Council’s highways department. It revealed not only that Ribble Valley has seen the largest fall in allocated spending on highways, but also that spending per mile is more than £1,000 less than the average spend per mile on highways across other districts covered by Lancashire County Council.
The data also showed the Ribble Valley receives £903.93 less per mile than the next nearest authority (Preston) and £2,158.87 less than the authority that receives the greatest amount of allocated spending per mile (Fylde).
Ribble Valley is the only authority that is part of Lancashire County Council to receive less than £3,000 in allocated funding per mile.
“How bad does it need to get before people take action,” asked Coun. Mirfin.
Pauline Wood, from Clitheroe Civic Society, said the society was willing to be involved in any discussions about new pavements.
“The last discussions Clitheroe Civic Society had with Ribble Valley Borough Council about the state of the pavements in the conservation area were in 2013.
“At that time, Lancashire County Council had promised some finance with RVBC matching. Nothing happened,” she added.
Ribble Valley Borough Councillor and Lancashire County Councillor Ian Brown requested a survey of pavements from York Street to The Emporium in Moor Lane back in 2013.
But, to the astonishment of Coun. Brown, county council chiefs reported back that no “actionable defects” had been found.
A “town team” was formed last year to allow borough and county council representatives to meet with local bodies to look at issues of concern in Clitheroe.
However, since its formation no action has yet been taken on town centre paving.
Just this month, Coun. Brown contacted the county council’s highways department again regarding a survey of the pavements in Clitheroe and a loose slab flagstone outside WH Smith in Castle Street.
Rachel Harrod, district lead officer for Lancashire Highway Services at Lancashire County Council, said: “Any actionable defects which were identified during the survey before Christmas have been repaired.
“A footway scheme in Clitheroe to improve mobility access will be carried out before the end of the financial year.”
She added: “An order has been placed for the loose slab to attended to. If the slab is unable to re-laid the footway will be made safe with bit mac as a temporary measure.”
If you know of a dangerous flagstone or a flagstone in need of repair or if you have fallen because of a dangerous flagstone please let us know. Email brief details to firstname.lastname@example.org