The excellent QLocal website reports on some upcoming skullduggery from the Tory LCC that will, hopefully for them, raise £millions for the county slush fund. “Homeowners across Ormskirk, Aughton and Burscough could be vulnerable to being charged hundreds and possibly thousands of pounds to park their cars on their own driveways. The County Council’s begun to implement legislation (Section 184 of the Highways Act 1980), which enables it to charge homeowners to put in dropped kerbs if they are parking a car on their own driveway”.
And, quickly into spasms of indigation, Labour’s Cnty Cllr Hasina Khan (Chorley North), and Ormskirk’s John Fillis, Shadow Spokesperson Cabinet Highways and Transport, have castigated LCC because “This is a Conservative ‘Kerb Tax’ that is targeting ordinary people in their own homes, squeezing people for every penny they can get out of them”.
In October LCC introduced its latest “Highways Management Plan Code of Practice Vehicle Crossings” the scope of which is that “This Code of Practice has been drafted with reference to Section 184 of the Highways Act 1980 which gives the county council powers, as Highway Authority, to insist on proper construction of a crossing at an acceptable location, to authorise developers to execute construction of vehicle crossings in accordance with approved plans and also, following an application, to approve the location and design of vehicle crossings to be constructed at the applicant’s expense. The Highway Authority also has powers to take action should an unacceptable crossing affect the highway. This Code of Practice covers the provision of vehicle crossings at residential properties and the construction of vehicle crossings associated with developments”.
“The County Council encourages all occupiers of residential premises, wherever possible, to garage or park their vehicles off the road. Where they need to cross a kerb, verge or footway in a motor vehicle to reach their property, at an acceptable location, the crossing point, also referred to as a ‘vehicular crossing’ or ‘dropped kerb’, must have been approved by the County Council as local Highway Authority”.
As Cllr Fillis stated to Roger Blaxall “The legislation that supports this action has been around for years. But during the time of the Labour administration it was never used in such a cynical manner to raise funds to prop up the county coffers”.
And perhaps the key word is “could” in respect of homeowners being charged this “kerb tax”. They “could” if for example the local builder didn’t have the legal right to do such work. Builders don’t own the public highways, or any of the apparatus within it. And if you drive onto the public highway and damage services or the pavement, you are likely to be liable for an enormous bill and it’s illegal. The Highways Act 1980 Section 184, makes it an offence to drive a vehicle across a footway, or verge, where there is no proper vehicle crossover. It allows for the Highway Authority (or its Agent) to agree to a new vehicle crossover to be constructed. New drop kerb vehicle crossings were historically called carriage crossings. They include both the physical lowering of the kerb (the dropped kerb) and a permission to allow a vehicle to cross the public footway. The entire costs in design and construction of the dropped kerb entrance are usually paid by the applicant.
This, below, is the first letter that has created the Labour furore.
Highways Management Plan – Vehicle Crossings Code of Practice – October 2017
Phone: (01772) 53Tel No
Fax: (01772) 53Fax No
Email: email firstname.lastname@example.org
HIGHWAYS ACT 1980 SECTION 184 (1) AND (7)
LETTER 2 – VEHICLES CROSSING OVER FOOTWAYS AND VERGES
We wrote to you on [insert date] regarding your use of the footway [and verge on xxxxx highway name]. During a routine inspection you have been observed continuing to cross the footway [and verge] without a properly constructed vehicle crossing. Please find enclosed a further copy of our fact sheet explaining vehicular crossings in more detail and a copy of our fact sheet relating to making an application detailing the services that Lancashire County Council can provide. I must insist that you cease to run your vehicle over the footway forthwith. For your information I have enclosed a copy of letter one sent to you dated [insert date].
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest opportunity.
Followed by this
HAND DELIVERED Date:
HIGHWAYS ACT 1980 – SECTION 184
Notice to Construct Vehicular Crossing
Land at [insert location]
I refer to the letter and Notice served on you on the [insert date]. [As discussed with you on[insert date], Lancashire County Council as the Highway Authority does now legally have the power to go ahead with the work and then re-charge the costs. Arrangements have been made to carry out these works and work to construct the vehicle crossing outside your property will commence on [insert date]. We will endeavour to provide you with access to your property during the works and anticipate completion within 2 days unless a problem is encountered during the work.
Upon completion an invoice will be raised for the amount of [insert amount] and delivered to you for payment. If you wish to discuss this matter further you can call me on [insert number].
Tory highway robbery? Probably!