Bushes, Hedges and Who Should Cut Them.

As a Councillor you have to deal with all sorts of issues. Generally, I can solve most in a short space of time, but there are a few issues like buses and dog bins which take a while longer.

For the last few weeks I have been dealing with a lot of complaints about bushes, hedges and other vegetation growth along footpaths and highways. The increase of complaints happens around this time every year. This is because in the warmer weather vegetation has a habit of growing quite quickly.

Cornwall Council will only cut and maintain areas that it owns or has a statutory duty to keep clear. Other areas are the responsibility of the landowners. It could be a garden, or field that is adjacent to a path, but the responsibility to keep clear is still the landowners.

In a lot of cases it is not clear who actually owns the land, and can lead to misunderstandings as to who should cut it. A simple phone call to Cornwall Council can establish who is responsible.

The Council provides a number for complaints and concerns on overgrowth. That number is 0300 1234 222. All you need is the area of the concern which will be logged, a reference number given, and then the complaint will be investigated. If you do not want to make a call you can report it via Cornwall Councils website by clicking HERE

If it is Cornwall Councils responsibility the rectification work will be carried out. If it is not, a letter will be sent to the landowner requesting them to cut it back. If nothing is done, a further letter can be sent explaining that if the work is not carried out, the Council has the powers to carryout the work, and then bill the landowner the full costs for this work.

So far all complaints which I have received have been reported and will be investigated in the next week or so. If you suddenly see the overgrowth cut back, then you know it is the Councils responsibility. If not, I am afraid the Council is having to go down the letter writing route.

Please feel free to report any concerns you have to me (only those in my divisional area), phone 0300 1234 222 or online HERE to report it yourself.

Highways – Credit Where Credit is Due

Cornwall Council’s Highway department has gained praise from the Audit Commission. The have highlighted the Council’s work by saying ‘driving consistent levels of service and road condition across the whole county’. I would like to add my praise to this department for the difficult job they do in all weathers.

From my experience Cornwall Council’s Highway Dept has been quick to response to any request I have made concerning issues like potholes and other faults. In most cases as soon as I report a problem they are out within a few days to rectify that problem. I have even had a few major stretches of road resurfaced.

Sadly spending on highways has not seen the increase like others areas of the Council, but the money they have received they have done their very best with it. Especially as they are responsible for around 4536 miles of highways in Cornwall.

A New Crossing

Anyone travelling on the Helston to Porthleven road near the Fairground Car Park and the Boating Lake could not help but notice a change to this road, because I have had installed a small, but essential pedestrian island. I have always said since being elected that I would put in some sort of crossing, and now I am very happy to say this work has now been completed.


This area is well used by pedestrians because the Boating Lake is located close to a large, free car-park. I am not saying anyone is speeding. However, due to the hill people are either accelerating on the incline or are travelling downhill, often leading to excess speed.

I have said before that I had hoped for a full crossing with lights, but that was not within my budget as this sort of crossing is in the area of £50k. This crossing including all the associated ground works cost £12k. I paid out of my Members Highways Budget £10k and the other £2k was paid by South Kerrier Alliance, and I am very grateful for the support they have given.

Highways – Let’s Say Thank You

Even Blind Pew would have noticed the snow and cold spell that we have been subjected to these last 4 weeks. I was trying to find how long ago we had weather like this and came across a reference (click HERE) going back to the 1600’s. Of course, those Northern climates get snow every year and lots of it, but it is fairly rare for Cornwall to get a huge dusting of it before Christmas.

Cornwall Council is responsible for over 4,530 miles from major principle roads, to narrow country lanes. In other words, all roads in Cornwall apart from the A30 and A38. That is a lot of roads to cover with 24 gritters. Last year (including the cold spell in Jan) Cornwall Council spent an extra £500k on salt and grit. The average salt usage in the previous last 4 years was 5,500t, last year it was 18,000t. That is a huge increase in tonnage compare to the previous years.

So far this year Cornwall Council has used around 8,000t of salt compared to last year, and has spent an additional £200k having undertaken more pre-salt treatments. In 2009 this was 18, to date it is 48. Of course in an ideal world all roads would be salted, even the narrow back lanes, but this is just not going to happen unless we at least double our fleet of gritters and spend more money on salt. So let’s stop for a minute before we demand all our drives to be cleared as I doubt many will be happy to suddenly find we have a ‘winter’ tax added onto the Council Tax bill to pay for this.

What we should be saying is well done and thank you to all those in the Highway Department who have worked around the clock trying to clear the roads, and acting as quick as possible to each case. I for one have seen far more gritter lorries trundling around our roads than I can remember. So from me, I would like to say a big thank you to all those in Highways who have worked so hard in keeping our roads open. Maybe people might like to write a letter or two to this department to say thank you. It will make a nice change from the ‘My road is this.. etc’

Of course maybe if we do not want to spend more, or have a ‘winter tax’ then maybe every citizen could help out like the picture below (Disclaimer – I am joking)

Pedestrian Refuge – Boating Lake, Porthleven Road

It has been quite a few months since I last posted on this subject; mainly because I had been working behind the scenes with Highway Engineers to come up with a plan that works, and more importantly, have the money to pay for it. I am happy to now announce that I do have a scheme, and the money to pay for it from my Members Highway Grant.

As anyone who knows this area the crossing is going to be situated between a large free car park and Coronation Park which includes the well used Skate Park, Children’s Playpark and Boating Lake. I had hoped that this was going to be a full pedestrian crossing with either lights, or beacons, but due to the location of the crossing it would have just been unaffordable due to the utilities that would be required. In the end I opted for a refuge type crossing, rather then bin the whole idea. I feel some sort of crossing is better than what is currently there, which is nothing.

Below are the drawings of what is planned. The date for all this work to start is mid January and it is hoped to be completed within a few weeks after that. Of course, this date could slip right, but I am hoping the weather will be kind enough for this to take place in January.

Proposed Scheme:

Scheme with road markings:

Drive Safely – Please

This was posted on Facebook by some friends. I tried to watch it, but could not get to the end of it. One thing is for sure is this is hard hitting. It’s probably one of the most hard hitting driving campaigns I have ever seen. It’s not even from a Government campaign, but I am posting this with the hope that this may make people think when driving.

In Cornwall its the summer season. More traffic and more congestion on our roads. We have all got frustrated when we are stuck behind someone who is driving really slow and/or does not know where they are going. Please before you decide to pull out and try and over take them thinking you are a F1 driver have a look at this viral.

(Warning- Please be-aware that this shows some unpleasant scenes)

 

A Safe Crossing

One of the main aims I set myself to achieve whilst I was in office was to get some sort of pedestrian crossing between the Fairground Car Park and the Boating lake in Helston. This is now a step closer to happening. The road in question is a straight and fast road, even though its a 30mph zone. This area is very popular and alot of people cross this road. So its about time they were able to do so in a much safer way.

The reason is that from the 1st April Members of Cornwall Council will be getting a budget of £8k to use on minor highways projects in their areas (this money is not for use on resurfacing or maintenance projects). I have now requested the Highways Engineers to do a feasibility and costings study. My initial correspondence is that this project could be completed for £8-10k.

If indeed this can be done for that figure I hope to get the work started within the next 6 months. I know it seems a long time, but projects like these take a little time to get started and finished.

Funding

It was not all doom and gloom from this years Budget. Two items that I wholeheartedly welcome is the renewal of the Community Chest Grant of £2195 to each councillor and a local highways grant.

Previously under the old Cornwall County Council each member was given roughly £10k for small Highways improvements in their areas. Up to now this had not been budgeted into the Cornwall Council Budget. The good news is that from yesterday’s acceptance of the Budget; £1 million is being made available to the local Members. This equates to roughly £8,130 for each Member from the 1st April 2010.

It does not seem a lot of money as any highways project, even the small ones, costs a huge amount. I say, £8k is better than nothing. The Cabinet Member for Highways has indicated that you will be allowed to roll over the amount to the next financial year. Again, another positive

I can’t say for definite where I will be spending this money, but I have always said and campaign that there needs to be some sort of Pedestrian Crossing or Island between the Fairground Carpark and the Boating Lake in Helston. I will be investigating the feasibility of one of the schemes over the coming months.

The Community Chest Grant allows me to help organisations with a small grant. This year I have tried to help as many of the small clubs in my Division. Again, I welcome this inclusion into the Budget. Hopefully soon we will be having a review to ‘simplify’ the application forms as I have to say they are way too bureaucratic and desperately need to be simplified.

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