Trial Closure Of Balls Farm Road

The trial closure of Doctors Walk came to the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee today with a recommendation to make the changes permanent.

I’ve been campaigning on this issue since 2013. It was one of the things that brought me to politics,

Ide is connected to Exeter by two main roads, both highly unsuitable for walking and cycling, and also by the lanes which are the subject of this proposal.

The ward boundary cuts between the proposal and Ide. I am very grateful to Councillor Atkinson for working together in recent years especially for the help engaging police enforcement in response to the steadily increasing volumes of traffic ignoring the traffic restictions and using the lanes to avoid congestion on the main roads.

This steady increase has been shown by traffic surveys carried out with Ide Parish Council and a local community group for almost 10 years, in response to concern about safety, amenity and aggression from drivers.

The officers report was clear about the scheme’s success in stopping the illegal traffic, and the large increase in walking and cycling that has resulted. It also covers the strong community support the trial has attracted from residents living in the scheme, as well as those served by it.

Perhaps most importantly it has stopped the aggressive incidents. Where we used to have stress, speeding and conflict, we now have safe, peaceful and beautiful green lanes.

The riding stables on Balls farm Road can once again safely operate on the lane with groups of children with disabilities. A new cohort of year seven students is meeting at the twisted oak and cycling to school along Balls Farm Road. The Amenity value is huge.

We have now extended Exeter’s active travel network towards the Haldon hills and prevented Ide from becoming a traffic island, close to Exeter, but cut off from it, accessible only by motor vehicles.

It was Acknowledged by officers that this scheme is unusual in that it was brought forward by the community through Ide Parish Council rather than coming from DCC.

It was noted by the chair of the meeting that this has been a long term problem. She commented on the historic reluctance of officers to take measures that have an impact on car users. Since lockdown this attitude has changed and as a result we see a scheme coming forward that is cheap, effective, and is supported in 83% of consultation responses.

The vote was unanimous in favour of making the closure permanent. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved over the years. On balance, this is a really good outcome for the community and I am immensely proud of my part in this achievement.