Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 15, 2016

How many Links In A Roads Chain?

It might be a sign of our times that one of our leading county cabinet members, John Fillis, has pointed a resident complaining of road signage changes direct to another agency, in effect cutting out the middleman. But borough member Adrian Owens thinks that’s something the county and John Fillis should be ashamed of. Cllr Owens goes so far as to say Cllr Fillis and his officers should do what they are paid to do, in Cllr Fillis’s case a total of £30,112.91 including basic allowance ££10,362, cabinet allowance £16,274, and sundry expenses £3,575.91.

The spat arose in July 2015 after two Ormskirk residents Barrie French and the late Ed Dickinson discovered that the LCC hadn’t requested Highways England for important changes to signs on the M58 to divert traffic bound for Southport to the Thornton link road.

Mr French was having none of it and emails I’ve seen show he nagged Cllr Fillis fillis to carry out the changes. Cllr Fillis claims it’s the duty of the Highways Agency to take responsibility for the new signs.

Readers might wonder how and why new signs weren’t being erected as the new road progressed, and whose duty it was to see to it. Can you imagine a new road with no signs when the road was handed over? Don’t road builders talk to one another?

And why is borough Cllr Owens adrianow having to become involved instead of a county member who represents Barrie French? Shouldn’t the conversation be entirely county highways and county members representing Barrie French?

Cllr Owens is telling Cllr Fillis to roll up his sleeves and strive to work for his home town and not ask residents to do something for which he and his officers are paid by the taxpayer. It’s a fair point.

Councillor Fillis is certain the Highways Agency is the responsible authority when it comes to signage on the motorway and it is only reasonable to link residents directly to the decision makers rather than increase the number of links in the chain. He says some of the signage has begun to change. About time too?

Councillor Owens makes the point that “When the county council cancelled our long planned bypass, they promised an alternative deal for the town detailed in the Transport Masterplan. By now we were supposed to have a new bus station and cycle routes to the University. The bus station is only just getting off the drawing board while the cycle route plan seems to have disappeared without trace. The cycle hire facility at Ormskirk bus station has been plagued with problems and been out of use on more than one occasion. Nothing in the Masterplan has been delivered”.

Councillor Fillis believes Cllr Owens had failed to recognise the work the County Council had been undertaking. “The excellent refurbishing of the Moor Street part of the town centre has been praised by so many local people. The safety review of the Five Ways Junction linked into the traffic calming on Halsall Lane and Cottage Lane. Despite Conservative Government cuts we have and we will continue to deliver for local people”. That’s a smokescreen!

Perhaps they will, but all in all this has been 16 months of skirting around an issue of inefficiency and muddle. If this is a reflection of how our major county highways are managed, sorry mismanaged, what chance do we have for local roads with endless potholes and un-cleared gullies ever being fit for purpose?

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