“Radical new strategy” (aka common sense) could release money for road repairs

Unfortunately, austerity cuts and HS2 (which has just been revealed is going through open-casr mining zones where big cracks are showing up) trump common sense …

“Pothole repairs and other local road improvements could be given a £400 million boost if Government funding mirrored rising income from fuel and motoring taxes, research shows.

The “radical new strategy” would help support the almost 30% increase in the number of vehicles on Britain’s roads since 2000, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

The organisation, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, wants the Government to match the increase in fuel and motoring tax income generated in the past 10 years in its funding for town halls.
This would mean an extra £418 million to improve local roads by fixing potholes, cutting congestion and protecting bus services, encouraging residents to use alternative transport where possible.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-4979732/New-strategy-provide-418m-boost-local-road-improvements.html

Cranbrook favoured over rural areas for bus services

Yet another blow for rural towns and villages where bus servicex have been cut so people can’t get into Exeter or the Science Park or the Lidl depot if they don’t have cars.

Bus operator Stagecoach has announced additional journeys on one of its popular routes.

The changes, which will be implemented on its 4 route on October 16, include a new 5.36am journey from Exeter Bus Station to Cranbrook running seven days a week.

The return journey to the bus station from Cranbrook will leave at 6.09am.

The route will also provide a later bus to and from Cranbrook on Sundays.

Under the revised changes, the last service from Exeter Bus Station to Cranbrook will be at 9.36pm and the last service from Cranbrook to Exeter Bus Station will be at 10.09pm.

The full 4 route runs from Exeter to Axminster, stopping at Cranbrook, Ottery St Mary and Honiton along the way.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/stagecoach-announces-new-journeys-between-exeter-and-cranbrook-1-5232403

After freehold leases another scam: unadopted roads

Rumour has it there are many such roads in our part of the world …
http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/practical-advice-issued-for-sensible-parking-in-cranbrook-1-3999229
and
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/02/20/cranbrook-estate-rent-charges-another-developer-cash-cow/comment-page-1/

Owners of new homes are living on potholed roads with no street lights or rubbish collection as housebuilders and councils shun the responsibility for road maintenance.

Developers can save thousands by dodging the legal agreements that pass the roads on to local authority control, allowing builders to make roads narrower than usual, for example, and leaving homeowners to pay for the road’s upkeep or see it fall into disrepair.

People living on these unadopted streets have been forced to seek approval from road management committees before selling their homes and say it is harder to find buyers.

The government is to ban new houses from being sold on a leasehold basis to tackle onerous ground rent charges, yet owners of freehold houses on unadopted streets are being “held to ransom” by management companies that charge households up to £660 a year for road maintenance.

“We seem to be rewriting the rules on the way that roads are looked after,” says Derrick Chester, a councillor for Littlehampton and Arun in West Sussex.

Normally housebuilders have new roads “adopted” by the local authority through a legal agreement under Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980, while the sewers underneath are covered by a similar Section 104 arrangement. When the road is left unadopted, homeowners on the road are responsible for its upkeep, and often the sewers and facilities such as playgrounds and parks.

Halima Ali, 30, and her husband bought their freehold four-bedroom home in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, from Persimmon, the developer, and believed that the road would later be adopted by the local council. Seven years later the streets around the 120 flats and houses remain unadopted and are deteriorating.

“The street lights have not been fixed for years, so there are areas that are in complete darkness; it is quite scary at night. A neighbour has had a problem with a sewer cover, which is in danger of collapse,” she says. “There is a children’s playground and, even though it is a public park, residents are required to maintain it. The public come and trash it and we can be made to pay for its maintenance, which is outrageous, and we are paying council tax on top.”

Another homeowner, 56, bought a three-bedroom freehold house in Kettering, Northamptonshire, from SDC Builders nine years ago. “At the time it was sold to me as a benefit, your own private neighbourhood, which would be passed into the residents’ control once the developer had left,” she says, “but, as an unadopted road, we have no street lighting, the bin men won’t come down and we are liable if anyone has an accident on the communal land.”

She has been trying to sell her home, but buyers pulled out when they found out about problems with the unadopted road.

She says that SDC Builders set up a limited company for managing the development, which was passed to residents, who elected two neighbours as directors. She was not aware that if she wanted to sell her property it would require the directors’ approval, and they have refused permission over what she says is a trivial disagreement about parking.

Christine Hereward, the head of planning at Pemberton Greenish, the law firm, says councils and highways authorities will only adopt roads if they are built to their standards. Section 38 agreements are also backed by a lump sum, sometimes running to hundreds of thousands of pounds, put down by the housing developer as a bond against the road not being finished properly. Developers receive their bond back only when the road is adopted. Ms Ali says: “Persimmon has not built our road to the required standard. The council won’t adopt it.”

Critics say developers are choosing not to enter into a section 38 agreement so that they can bypass local authority standards; roads can be narrower and car parking spaces smaller than regulations require, for example. They also save tens of thousands by not making the required bond payments.

In 2009 the government estimated that it would cost £3 billion to bring the country’s thousands of unadopted streets up to an adoptable standard. “Developers can achieve cost savings and make their lives easier. It does enable them to construct a substandard highway. It is a shortcut. To be fair to the developers, it is up to councils to enforce the standards,” says a source who did not want to be named. “There is very little sanction.”

The public come and trash the park and we can be made to pay for it
Mr Chester says councils and housebuilders are colluding over the issue because it saves both parties money. “It fits into the narrative about local authority budget cuts,” he says.

Phil Waller, a former construction manager who runs the website Brand-newhomes.co.uk, says: “I know of one development where a fire engine was unable to access a fire because of parked cars and the layout of the road.”

Unlike private roads, which are often gated, unadopted roads appear as ordinary streets. Whether the public has right of way can be uncertain. Mark Loveday, a barrister from Tanfield Chambers in London, says he frequently hears from homeowners who did not realise that their property was on an unadopted road. “What very often happens is nothing is done to the road for many years and it is only when potholes appear and someone living on the road says, ‘hang on, someone should be maintaining this road’”, he says.

Buyers of new-build homes ought to check the specifics of the road before the sale. “This is an important thing that should be flagged up by the solicitor,” says Mr Loveday. Those who are unsure about the status of their road can apply to the Land Registry for details.

Steve Turner of the Home Builders Federation, the trade association, says housebuilders are increasingly in dispute with local authorities and planning departments over the specifications of newly built roads, which is causing delays in local authorities adopting them. “The resolution typically involves the authority demanding more cash,” he says.

‘We may have to pay for the road upgrade’

Residents of unadopted streets often need to take out public liability insurance in case someone is injured on the street.

Keith Beattie used the government’s flagship Help to Buy scheme to buy his house in Haydock, near St Helens, Merseyside, from Westby Homes North West. In February 2014, when he moved in, the road was unfinished, with tarmac not properly laid and potholes filling up with water. The housebuilder went into administration in August. “The administrators have informed us that they won’t be completing the road and paths. St Helens council will not enter a section 38 until the road is brought to an adoptable standard, which it is not,” he says. “As residents, we may have to pay to have the road completed to the council’s standard.”

Source: Times, pay wall

London Mayor asks car manufacturers to contribute to anti-pollution measures

Why stop at London?

Greater Exeter is already polluted by cars streaming into and out of the cities and towns it covers. Who is going to tackle that?

Not our Local Enterprise Partnership, or the Greater Exeter partners that”s for sure – they both want more houses and more roads.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/06/sadiq-khan-asks-car-manufacturers-to-give-funds-towards-tackling-londons-toxic-air

Transport charities may not be allowed to compete with non-existent bus routes!

The government is proposing that, if a charity such as TRIP, which provides has salaried employees or carries out services under contract it could be considered as a competitor to bus companies and might lose its licence – even if there is mo bus company doing the same thing.

Wonder which MPs have bus company shares!

“The manager of a Honiton community transport charity says a proposal to change how legislation is enforced could ‘stifle’ many of the services it offers.

Neil Hurlock, who oversees TRIP in New Street, has expressed his fears about the impact of proposed government changes detailed in a letter from the Department for Transport (DfT).

The letter revealed that the government is currently consulting on a raft of alterations to existing legislation for all groups using a Section 19 permit under the Transport Act 1985.

This permit, under which TRIP operates all of its vehicles, allows charitable and not-for-profit groups to provide transport services at a reduced cost.

But in its letter, the DfT warned that an operator whose activities mirror that of a bus company, in that it employs salaried drivers and carries out services under won contracts, cannot be regarded as carrying out its activities ‘exclusively for non-commercial purposes’.

As a result of this, the DfT added, operators can not operate any vehicles under a section 19 permit as it ‘falls outside the scope of the derogation’.

This means TRIP could be forced to consider the way it is run if it wants to carry on with any commercial work.

Mr Hurlock says if the proposed alterations are approved, the regulations could greatly increase the charity’s vehicle operating costs – potentially forcing its ‘essential’ rural transport services to be axed.

Mr Hurlock said: “This could be the kiss of death for older people who use our service.

“A lot of these people are only able to live in their homes because they can rely on us to help maintain their ability to stay there by taking them shopping and to other vital appointments.

“If our services were forced to be axed due to this legislation, it will massively impact on our users, who could be left high and dry.”

Mr Hurlock says the charity is unable to afford the extra expenditure that it would face if the legislation is passed.

He is urging the community to rally behind a national campaign to ensure that the services can continue without extra cost burdens being placed on them.

Mr Hurlock added: “Devon has already lost three important community transport providers. We want to make sure this does not happen to others.

“The DfT is holding a consultation on these proposals during the autumn and I strongly urge people who rely on our services to write to them and emphasise the importance of affordable community transport in their own words.”

A spokesman for the DfT said: “Community transport operators provide vital services that encourages growth and reduces isolation by linking people to existing transport networks, jobs, education, shops and services.

“We are committed to supporting community transport operators and have no intention to end the permits system.

“We will carry out a consultation later this year, which will set out the changes needed to the guidance on the issue and use of permits.”

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/fears-that-legislation-changes-could-damage-honiton-transport-charity-1-5194867

Councillor and council officer parking perks

Devon County
Staff pay between 50p and £2 per day depending on salary and there are two compulsory car-free days. No information on cost to councillors.
Visitors: up to £7 per day.

Exeter City Council:
120 people can park £2 per day in council car parks in Exeter for which the public must pay £10 per day. No information on who the 120 people are and whether some or all are councillors.

North, East, Mid and West Devon:
Free parking for officers, councillors and visitors.
(Almost every year Independent Councillor Roger Giles presses for charges to be introduced and each time he is voted down)

Plymouth:
Staff
Permits for £50 per month in nearby car park. No information on whether or not this includes councillors.

Torridge and Torbay:
Refused to provide the information – Freedom of Information request made.

How do you spot a development site? Look for a road tunnel!

This article contains a useful overview of the Clyst Honiton bypass tunnel, whose lights are being replaced by LEDs.

But the accompanying aerial view of it is the more interesting photo:

http://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/clyst-honiton-bypass-tunnel-near-463174

It is a “Growth Point” development site

http://www.exetersciencepark.co.uk/news-events/25-news/77-clyst-honiton-bypass

and, obviously, a new road could not interfere with that given its access to vastly more development land a la Lidl and Skypark!

With the airport and other developments in “Greater Exeter”, will Cranbrook become one of the most polluted places in Devon?