The treatment of Canvey Island residents, fronting and affected by the many Un-made Roads on the Island is nothing short of Shabby!
Whether it be the original developer, the old Canvey Island Urban District Council, Castle Point Borough Council, or that fine hierarchy that is Essex County Council, all have shunned responsibility where the situation of road maintenance and improvements are concerned!
Even protracted legal discussions between ECC and CPBC have failed to reach a final decision on who should be responsible for changing the street light bulbs.
It is common knowledge that frontagers of these roads are ultimately responsible for the upkeep of the road surfaces, however why have so many of these roads been granted permission to be constructed in such a temporary fashion?
Permission for the substandard access roads would have been granted in the first instance, across many developments by the local authority, we assume that a financial “contribution” for the roads eventual making-up would have been levied upon the developer.
It would appear that these funds may have been put into reserves by the old Canvey Island UD Council. These funds would then have been absorbed into the coffers of the Castle Point borough council when it was then formed.
Essex County Council is the Highway Authority.
Government have given legislative guidance that:
“Section 230 of the 1980 Act empowers the ‘street works authority’ (i.e. the county council or unitary authority) to order the frontagers to carry out repairs to a private or unadopted road which are “needed to obviate danger to traffic”. The legislation also allows the authority to carry out the work itself if the order is ignored and to recover the expenses incurred from the frontagers.
Section 230 of the 1980 Act may only be invoked where repairs are needed to obviate danger to traffic. In other cases a highway authority may decide that a private or unadopted road should be made up under the Private Street Works Code (PSWC), set out in sections 205 to 218 of the 1980 Act.”
There has long been friction and complaint in the instance of the Dutch Village Estate roads. Many approaches have been made through official and direct channels for action to be implemented. Residents on the estate both of the unadopted and adopted roads wished to just have a reasonable and safe surface to access the estate whether on foot, by vehicle or by mobility vehicle means.
Given that, as further above, it is likely that monies were held and passed on between the two local authorities and that the ECC as Highways Authority have the authority to have the works carried out and collect the funds to pay for the improvements.
It could also be suggested that between the 3 local authorities some responsibility to contribute to the works is fairly obvious, having received developer contributions and having collected a proportion of council taxes towards Highways!
Instead all approaches, as you may expect from our local authority, were Rejected! Not just recently, but going back some many decades, so austerity cannot be upheld as a viable reason.
Many years ago MP Sir Bernard Braine intervened on a few residents behalf. When he did, Castle Point borough council jumped, to get Highways work implemented. Those days are long past.
It is only fair to note that Cllr.Howard has over many years shown support on unadopted Highways improvements, and endeavoured to assist in achieving some progress. However the local authorities controlling Canvey Island have collectively frustrated and failed the residents.
Contrast this with Cheshire, where many years ago the local council realised the predicament that homeowners had found themselves in and decided to take some action on the issue!
“It is proposed that Cheshire East Council should have a policy for dealing with urgent repairs to private streets where expenditure is limited to £500 in any one street in any one year and that the budget for repairs to private streets be limited to £5,000 per annum where overall budgets allow this. The budget shall be managed by the Highway Manager.”
Contrast this with Castle Point borough council’s almost prehistoric position indicated within the Adopted Local Plan thus:
POLICY T7 – UNMADE ROADS THAT IN ALL APPLICATIONS FOR THE INTENSIFICATION OF DEVELOPMENT SERVED BY UNMADE ROADS, THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK APPROPRIATE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE HIGHWAY.
Never has a Policy been more appropriately considered; too Little, Too Late!
Cheshire recognised the difficulty of a group of individuals to organise themselves as a collective, given the usual fractured communities we find these days, and have taken an initiative to offer some recourse to residents with a dangerous or deteriorating road surface is concerned.
What it has taken, in the case of the Dutch Village,is a very determined, very small group of residents to organise estimates, financial contributions and works to resolve the implementation of a flat road surface that all will benefit from, whether emergency vehicles with seriously ill patients, residents and their visitors and, not least and ironically, Council Refuse Vehicles which have been responsible in no small part for a level of damage to the old road surface!
Some of the funding has come from nearby residents not financially responsible for the Road requiring repair, some residents, with responsibility may have not been in a position to contribute, others owning but letting out property, may not have proved contactable.
Little wonder that a Policy on these and similar Roads should be forthcoming from Castle Point borough council! It is long overdue!
Few would argue that an Unadopted Road tax precept could not be charged on Council Tax payers, either generally or specifically on frontagers of Unadopted Roads, so as to build up a Ring Fenced Fund for the purpose of repairs. After all Canvey Islanders are charged an extra precept for our Town Council, police etc.
Look at the photograph above, and ask whether it is fair for residents to be left to organise such work themselves, especially given the Flooding issues on Canvey Island.
This has been quite some undertaking as nowadays many residents lease their properties thereby not being the owners responsible. The Canvey Green Belt Campaign were happy to allow the use of their bank account. And without a Residents Association the “bringing together” of all of the loose ends deserves great credit to the residents organising this undertaking!
Especially as the short length of road concerned is costing some 10’s of thousands of £’s !
It occurs to us that what is actually needed is some type of collective responsibility in the form of an elected group with powers to implement improvements, general maintenance, contracting resources and planning for future issues.
But then we came to the conclusion that what we really need is a Council fit for purpose!
What these Dutch Village Residents will have achieved, has been done despite councillors and officers!
So perhaps with these heady days of strategic planning, with the likes of the grandly titled “Association of South Essex Local Authorities” (ASELA) or “The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission”, both of which Castle Point council are an eager part of, it is now time to reduce the burden on the local tax payer and abandon the layers of executive “professional”officers at local authority level and reorganise a single authority for decision making across the region with lesser devolved powers implemented at a local level.
After all, in this instance the local authorities have failed, and continue to fail the people they are supposed to represent and carry out duties on behalf of, the Local Residents!
Despite the many unmade roads in the Borough, I cannot see many achieving what these Canvey Dutch Village Residents have achieved.
Hats off to them!