Curiouser and curiouser...
Last month, the Chief Executive of Sefton Council, Margaret Carney, wrote a letter to Highways England. You’d be forgiven for assuming that this was another plea to halt its plans to bulldoze Rimrose Valley Country Park.
However, on this occasion, it was actually a request for the Government Agency to actually do its job.
The Council claims that the A5036 Trunk Road, including Dunningsbridge Road, Church Road and Princess Way, is falling into disrepair and wrote to Highways England requesting an update on the maintenance schedule for the major route to and from the Port of Liverpool.
The letter highlights the “on-going extremely poor state of maintenance” of the road, citing the immediate, negative impression visitors to the Borough receive. This includes overgrown verges, excessive weeds and damaged street furniture, all of which have “a significant detrimental effect on reputation, potential inward investment and the health and wellbeing of residents.” And she's right.
The letter continues “…there is clearly no evidence, despite previous assurances, that an on-going planned maintenance regime is in place and actually being delivered to address these issues.”
In calling for Highways England to provide a detailed maintenance schedule for the route, the letter concludes that “it is completely unacceptable for you to continue to ignore the needs of the community and expect them to accept the extremely poor standard of service you are currently providing.”
It's certainly an interesting read:
Hmmm... So, why is this relevant?
Well, this is the same Highways England that wishes to build a dual carriageway through Rimrose Valley Country Park.
If it doesn’t have a great track record of maintaining the existing route, which is in a state of neglect, is that what we can expect of its proposed route through the parkland in the future?
Has it already written off the existing route and does it feel that money spent on maintaining it is a waste, as it believes it will soon have a new dual carriageway in its place?
A cynic might even say that the Government Agency has taken a “tit for tat” approach in response to Sefton Council’s refusal to grant access to Rimrose Valley in order for it to carry out its exploratory drilling.
No access = No maintenance? That can’t be the case, can it?
“Ignore the needs of the community.” It all sounds depressingly familiar.
It’s our job to make sure we aren’t ignored and that we, the people who pay Highways England’s wages and fund its road building exploits, have a genuine say in its schemes, and that this isn’t just a box-ticking exercise.
Ignore us at your peril, Highways England.