Residents frustrated over council's handling of HGV problem through tight village road

Claire Ramsey-Mayes, Jason Ramsey and Jamie at South End, Goxhill, are concerned especially by two-way HGV traffic on the road behind
-Credit: (Image: Donna Clifford/GrimsbyLive)


A number of Goxhill residents have been left frustrated by the council's response to their long-standing concerns over HGV traffic, which they say is worsening.

They want action to manage HGV traffic flow through South End, particularly two way movements, claiming there can be more than 50 within an hour. North Lincolnshire Council held a community conversation at Goxhill Memorial Hall in late January as it launched a review into industrial traffic flows in and around the village. This came after police had deemed the current situation as "unsafe" during busy periods.

However, in May, Jason Ramsay and another South End resident received formal letters from the council telling them their contact regarding the issue "has become excessive" and was hindering the authority's "ability to respond effectively". These followed direct emailing of the chief executive earlier that month after emails are claimed to have been repeatedly not responded to by other council officials. The authority has said it is "considering options" and plans to share proposals "in the next two months".

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The HGV traffic at South End is mostly related to warehouse storage facilities at the former RAF Goxhill, which are often used for shipped materials landed at New Holland and Immingham. "Our frustration is with the council," said Mr Ramsay.

"We have asked and asked for nearly 15 years, since 2010, for help down here with this HGV problem." Initially, the problem was HGVs mounting the footpath in Church Side, South End. Eventually, orange bollards were put in, though these showed wear and tear when Grimsby Live visited. Meanwhile, the speed limit has been reduced to 30mph.

But Mr Ramsay said a 2014 application to double the size of the Goxhill airfield warehouse was approved, with no traffic control conditions. "You can imagine the emphasis is on speed, to get a ship discharged as quickly as possible. We've counted on occasion 56 HGV movements within an hour." He said it created environmental, noise and pollution problems, and risked safety.

An operator's licence for HGVs at the former airfield was applied for late last year and granted by the office of the traffic commissioner in February - despite council objection.

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A November meeting with a new council director of communities gave South End residents a bit of confidence a solution may be found, Mr Ramsay said. But after the January public meeting, South End residents had not heard much since. "After that community conversation, the council refused to discuss anything with us," he claimed.

Mr Ramsay and other residents have asked for emergency measures to control the traffic flow at the worst times, while a longer-term solution is eventually reached. Two-way HGV movements in Church Side are the key issue, with footage compiled on an Instagram account of instances where lorries have had to reverse, even 100 metres. "Essentially, you've got a one track road which is almost wide enough for two cars to pass, so long as they stop."

"We aren't against the lorries and we have sympathy with the lorry drivers, because it's their working environment," he emphasised. The South End residents who have called for changes essentially accept HGVs will still use the route.

But he and the other resident have been angered to receive "excessive" contact warning letters by the council, and feel ignored. Correspondence seen by Grimsby Live shows Mr Ramsay contacted a council officer and council customer services seven times over email in a 13-day period in April to seek a reply to concerns over the seriousness with which the HGV issue was being treated. Most emails simply asked for a reply, noting the number sent without one.

Customer services indicated on April 26 the officer would get back before the month's end, but nothing came. "If you can't answer an email in a week, even with an email, 'ok, I will get back to you', then there's a major problem," Mr Ramsay said.

Screengrab of HGV traffic issues filmed in Church End, South End, in spring this year.
Screengrab of HGV traffic issues filmed in Church End, South End, in spring this year. -Credit:@southend_hgv Instagram

He and another resident each contacted the chief executive, Alison Barker, via email to raise the same concerns and highlight the lack of responsiveness. This was initially responded to, including with advice the council intended to return to get community feedback on options in early June.

Two replies by Mr Ramsay over eight days, which expressed strong unhappiness with the previous unanswered emails by the other council officer, and also invited the chief executive to meet face-to-face to hear South End residents' views, were not responded to. The formal warning letters were then received the following week.

"Ninety per cent, if not more, are just asking them to reply to our original emails," said the other resident sent a warning letter. Issues of responsiveness pre-dated April. Mr Ramsay and the other resident said Martin Vickers, the local MP before parliament was dissolved last week, expressed frustration with the lack of council responses to residents at a March 8 meeting, stating he would raise it with the council leader. He discussed with residents the operator's licence and contacted the Roads Minister about it, though no revision or reversal of it came about.

Mr Vickers was contacted about this and the Goxhill HGVs issue. He said: "This is a no-win situation for North Lincs Council. I know that they have worked tirelessly to deliver a solution. I have always ensured that the concerns of residents are passed to the council and will continue to do so."

Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Jonathan Evison has been supportive, South End residents said
Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Jonathan Evison has been supportive, South End residents said -Credit:Conservatives

One individual Mr Ramsay and the other resident praised was Humberside's Police and Crime Commissioner, Jonathan Evison. He said: "The Police and Crime Commissioner's been a fantastic support for us."

He organised a July 10 meeting last year, where residents, the police and council were invited to discuss the South End lorries issue. The council declined to attend, Mr Ramsay said.

"We just live here, all we want is quality of life for our kids." The other resident who received the "excessive" contact warning letter expressed even greater disillusionment with the council, claiming: "They're just looking for reasons to not do anything."

Mr Ramsay believes a one-way system would be the most workable and cheapest solution, something the police have suggested. North Lincolnshire Council were contacted for comment, including on the "excessive" contact letters, and the July 10 PCC-organised meeting.

A statement issued recently to the BBC by the council said: "We are considering options following community conversation - this is taking a little longer than we expected due to its complexity and the number of views we received.

"We also need to consult with our place partners and consider whatever the options are consider whole of the community. We are proposing to share in the next two months."