“Thousands of UK bridges are ‘sub-standard’, at risk of collapse and will cost almost £1billion to repair, experts warn after the tragedy in Genoa”

“The number of ‘sub-standard’ bridges in the UK has soared in recent years and would cost almost £1 billion to repair, according to alarming new findings.

A survey by the RAC Foundation revealed that almost 3,500 British bridges maintained by councils are not considered strong enough to bear 44-ton lorries – the heaviest vehicles permitted on our roads – placing them at risk of collapse if warning signs are ignored.

The figure – an increase of almost 45 per cent from the 2,375 recorded in 2015 – was correlated after the motoring research charity sent out Freedom of Information requests to all local authorities.”


Fire close to Greendale Business Park

“Firefighters are tackling a huge blaze involving “300 to 400” hay bales near Exeter.

Fire crews were called to a field near Greendale Business Park in Woodbury Salterton at about 04:45.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said “approximately 300 to 400 large straw bales” were on fire.

They remain at the scene and are trying to stop the blaze from spreading.

Appliances in the lanes surrounding so may be tricky driving around Woodbury/Woodbury Salterton.”


Don’t look to eastern East Devon for jobs unless you have a car

Following on from the post on an increase in buses and frequencies on the western side of East Devon (which has effectively become a commuting suburb of Exeter:


comes this information:

“Bad buses ruin work chances

Unreliable buses that are too expensive are causing low-income families to miss out on jobs, according to a study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Fewer services mean people are unable to travel long distances and guarantee punctuality, putting commuters at risk of losing their job. Since 2010 funding for buses has dropped £182 million, fares have risen 13 per cent above inflation and 3,347 routes have been cut.”

Source: Mirror page 25

Swire opposes Sidford Business Park

“Hundreds of people have lodged objections against the controversial application to create 8,445 sq m of employment floor space at the Two Bridges site.

The plans, which could create 250 jobs, represents 37 per cent of what was previously proposed and submitted to East Devon District Council (EDDC) in 2016.

Sir Hugo has hit out at the plans and raised concerns, slamming it as an ‘unwanted development in the wrong place’.

In a letter to East Devon District Council’s leader Councillor Ian Thomas, Sir Hugo said: “We have already seen Sidford absorbed by Sidmouth. It was because of this that I objected to a proposal for a cycle path between Sidford and Sidbury as I believed it would not be long before someone insisted on an illuminated path which could lead to gradual urbanisation between the two.

“Likewise, it seems to me to build a business park between Sidford and Sidbury, albeit nearer to Sidford, is an unwanted development in the wrong place.

“You will be familiar with the well-rehearsed arguments both for and against but I cannot see how this proposed development would do anything but detract from the area and to lead to more congestion and pollution on what is an already overused road.

“Equally I cannot see why the Alexandria Business Park could not be properly redeveloped to accommodate any need for new light industrial space.”

Sir Hugo then urged the council to turn the ‘unwanted’ planning application down.

Say No to Sidford Business Park campaigners held a protest last week that was attended by more than 80 people.

Petitioners have also been going door-to-door to gauge people’s views.

A Say No to Sidford Business Park spokesman said: “Obviously we welcome the position taken by Sir Hugo on what is a very important issue for local people. On this matter, we feel he has got it completely right.”

When the Herald went to press, EDDC had received 368 comments about the application, 254 of which were objections and 111 of which were in support.”


“Speeding in Cranbrook compounded by town’s unadopted roads”

Owl says: a headache for Sidmouth’s DCC Councillor Stuart Hughes – the transport supremo.

“Town councillors in Cranbrook have voiced their concerns over motorists travelling at speed on the town’s roads.

At a meeting last week, Councillor Matt Osborn said he saw vehicles using Court Royal – which runs from Cranberry Farm pub to Tillhouse Road – as a ‘drag strip’.

The problem of high speeds in Cranbrook has been further compounded by the fact police can only legally enforce a speed limit on an ‘adopted’ road.

No roads in Cranbrook have been adopted yet, meaning any police prosecutions for speeding offences would fail.

At a town council meeting last week, Cllr Ray Bloxham said: “The Road Traffic Act covers un-adopted roads, but the police do not see it that way.

“We have a dilemma and it has cropped up many times.

“Devon County Council (DCC) has set up a forum to tackle issues with speed because we are unhappy with the way speed is monitored.”

But chief inspector Adrian Leisk, head of roads policing, told the Herald that it was untrue that police were not enforcing the law in relation to the speed limit in Cranbrook – although it was a question of whether the law permitted them to do so.

He added: “To legally enforce a speed limit on a road, a valid and legal Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) needs to be produced and published.

“This will be done by the highway authority, which in this case will be Devon County Council, after the roads are formally handed over, or adopted.

“Any prosecutions for speeding offences will fail if the TRO is not valid or present. This will obviously be applicable after the road is adopted by the highway authority.”

Mr Leisk said the process of adoption ensured that the road was compliant with regulations, and all of the necessary design and technical specifications are met.

He added: “Prior to formal adoption, the responsibility for site safety rests with the developer, who still own the roads and are responsible for their upkeep.

“This should be risk assessed and addressed as all other safety considerations on a building site.

“This can include temporary measures to reduce residual speed on the site.

“Essentially, this road is not currently ‘in the hands of the police.’”


Bad news for Sidford – delivery vans blamed for rise of 2.5 million vehicles on roads in last 5 years

One for DCC Councillor Stuart Hughes – in charge of roads and transport.

“If you wonder why you seem to be stuck in a never-ending traffic jam these days, there was an answer last night.

The number of vehicles on our roads has leapt by an astonishing two and a half million in the last five years.

With the UK population hitting 66 million last year and as more of us turn to online shopping, a surge in the number of delivery vans has been blamed for increased gridlock in many town centres.

Last year there were 2,460,900 more vehicles on England’s road when compared with five years ago in 2013 – an increase of 7.7 per cent.

Over the same period, road space increased by just 0.6 per cent, according to the latest figures by the Local Government Association.

This means there are significantly more vehicles per mile of road leading to increased congestion, air pollution and more wear and tear on our roads.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has identified traffic as one of the factors holding back productivity, with people spending too much time travelling and not enough time working. …”


Local Government Association news – too much (bad) news to choose from

Opinion: Last-minute ministerial statements

Polly Toynbee discusses the raft of ministerial statements issued on the last day of Parliament, including a change to planning laws, under which communities lose the right to have their say on developments if they fail to meet government-imposed targets. She questions whether this will be “a gift for developers” and references LGA Chairman Lord Porter’s view that it “punishes local communities”.
Guardian (Journal p4)

UK’s bus routes at a 28-year low

The UK bus network has shrunk by 8 per cent in a decade with bus routes at a 28-year low in terms of miles travelled, according to government figures. Councils subsidise nearly half of all bus routes in England but a total of 3,347 routes have been stopped or reduced since 2010. The LGA says councils face an overall funding gap of almost £8 billion by 2025 that could see 5,000 bus routes gone by 2022.
Mirror p8

Councils seek £50,000 care home cap to help rural areas

No one should have to pay more than £50,000 for a place in a care home, the County Councils Network has said. Its report, published in advance of the Government’s delayed green paper on reform of the care system, said: “For more people in rural areas to benefit from a cap on care, it needs to be set at a lower level, potentially as low as £50,000. It is estimated that only one in 10 people would benefit from a £72,000 cap.” It said the cap must be fully funded.
Mail p19

School holiday hunger cash

The Government will put £2 million towards a series of projects across the country providing activities including free football classes, play sessions and cooking classes. These projects will also provide free meals for the most disadvantaged families who may rely on the free school meals they receive during term time.
BBC Online, Mirror p17

Wheelchair shortage

Millions of people are being left without wheelchairs as they recover from illness and risk being “trapped” in their own homes, the British Red Cross has warned. The charity said a lack of information about services, stigma around wheelchair use and a “postcode lottery” are among the reasons people are not getting the right support.
BBC Online, i p9

UK heatwave

The London Fire Brigade has called for councils in the capital to introduce a ban on barbecues in parks and drivers are being urged not to throw rubbish from their cars after a string of grassland fires during the heatwave.
BBC Online, Sky News Online, ITV Online, all papers

Flat owners have to pay £3m recladding cost of two Manchester blocks

The owners of 345 flats in two Manchester apartment blocks built with flammable cladding will have to pay an estimated £3 million to have their homes made fire-safe, following a ruling by a tribunal. The tribunal ruled in favour of the freeholder who argued that the flat owners, as leaseholders, should pay for the replacement of the cladding at a cost of £10,000 each through their service charge.
Guardian Online