It was full of political bovine excrement, and the insults against other politicians as in “It’s clear that there is nothing they won’t do for their own political gain”! [Really!] And “Labour councils are too obsessed with debates over toppling statues and renaming streets to focus on what matters to you”.
On their own, Conservative, behalf I noted they should “Hit the streets to spread the word about Conservatives in charge of your local services”. They should be careful what they wish for as a Lead LCC Tory Cllr admits in writing to raising problems in Halsall for over eight years!
Conservatives are in charge of our local county services. Roads and flooding in particular. Sometimes the two collide. As in Halsall, where “Footpaths and flooding along New Cut Lane” are an issue. In September 2020 the HPC was told by the LCC Highways District Lead Officer “Thank you for your email of 16 August 2020 concerning an update to our response dated 3 February 2020. We have now secured capital funding to make improvements to the drainage systems at this location, we expect to undertake this work this financial year”.
By 3rd March 2021 the HPC Clerk was asking “Could you please advise us when the drainage works are due to start?” And on 17th March 2021 the HPC Clerk was told “Our capital drainage works have now been completed. We carried out a full investigation of the drainage system at this location, this included a complete cleansing of the system as well as a CCTV survey to ensure there were no blockages or anomalies within our system. We believe our system is now running as effectively as possible, however we are continuing to monitor the area during heavy rainfall to ensure the system is working as expected”.
Thereafter, 18th March, the HPC Clerk asks “Can we also have an update re when work on the footpaths will take place. The they are in a dangerous and frankly unacceptable and disgraceful condition which for anyone who is disabled are a nightmare to negotiate?”
It took the LCC Highways District Lead Officer until the 31st March to write to the HPC Clerk “Thank you for your further email of 18 March 2021, about the footpaths along New Cut Lane, Halsall. In light of your correspondence we will inspect the footways, to see what work is required. We will considered the footways as part of the capital resurfacing programme for 2022 till 2023, They will be prioritised with all the other footways on a countywide basis. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor its condition to ensure it remains safe and serviceable. I appreciate this response may be disappointing, however I hope it clearly explains our current position”.
These exchanges have included copies to LCC Cllr David O’Toole. He is not best pleased as he writes to the Officer. “I have several points to make regarding your response. The email of the 18th March wasn’t the first to highlight the condition of New Cut Lane. Regardless of this fact I would like an explanation WHY it takes two weeks to reply to such an email. IT is just not acceptable to say it will be considered for the 2022/ 2023 programme. There is a sense of urgency about this much used road and putting on the bck shelf is just not good enough. Please reply ASAP I do not want to wait TWO WEEKS. CC David O’Toole”.
In steps the HPC Vice Chairman who, summarised, lays out historical recorded exchanges since 2008 that prove LCC was aware of the residents of New Cut Lane and Halsall Parish Council having contacted LCC Highways for many years complaining about the continuing flooding and have been constantly “fobbed off” with lame excuses, blaming other bodies or worse, ignoring the situation.
“Letters dating back as far back to 2008 prove LCC Highways have known that the road and gully drainage system was failing, the addition of new housing on the lane given its blessing by WLBC Planning committee members (to which you voted for in your capacity as a borough councillor), is making the situation far worse!
“The WLBC Drainage Engineer is now well versed in the knowledge of the poor drainage system as he was present at the United Utilities presentation held at Farnborough Primary School which explained “in detail” the deficiencies in surface water drainage in this location”.
There is much more including “Capital funding was “promised” by LCC Highways officials so a number of questions must be asked, Who has cancelled this and why? Where has this allocated funding gone to? Why has this area within southern division been left to carry on flooding when other divisions receive improvements? Why are New Cut Lane residents not worthy of any surface water improvements?
And Cllr O’Toole is told “May I remind you that there was a recent successful insurance claim against LCC in relation to injuries caused directly due to the poor state of the footpaths and Halsall Parish Council submitted a report to LCC last year on the undulating, uneven surface to which a number of disabled residents found too dangerous to use.
“Cllr O’Toole, we notice that LCC promote themselves in the local press in Lancashire of many improvement programmes throughout Lancashire with the exception of the southern division which you represent, it appears that the residents in your patch have been left “high and dry” (if only) in getting a decent drainage system but it’s the complete opposite due to outdated, non functioning drains”.
“Perhaps this devastating comment best highlights the plight of Halsall and its residents “To state that “We believe our system is now running as effectively as possible” is an insult to every single resident in New Cut Lane who suffers constantly from flooding incidents!”
To return to the start of this article
will Cllr O’Toole “Hit the streets to spread the word about Conservatives in charge of your local services”? He may not, but he fights back “I have forwarded to entire email to Mr Durnell and to CC Iddon together a strongly worded email from myself pointing out that I personally have been reporting the problems on New Cut Lane for over eight years. Regarding planning permission on New Cut Lane you are aware that the Labour group on WLBC are in control and that the application was supported by the labour portfolio holder Cllr Evans, the planning chairman and as far as I remember the recommendation was strongly in favour of approval. David O’Toole”.
Not at all, as the last words for today come from the Vice Chairman of the HPC “It has been noted that every single Conservative councillor sitting on the planning committee has voted overwhelmingly for the developments with all bar one labour councillor voting against, looking back at all of the voting decisions, Conservative voting has been very consistent in voting for additional housing in this area even though you acknowledge the serious localised flooding situation.
“It’s sad that a mere Parish Councillor has had to fight for many years to secure capital investment funding instead of his County Councillor but we hope to see if you can redeem the situation from your strongly worded e mail by having this decision reversed and works to begin in the very near future”.
We wait and see. We do that a lot here in West Lancashire, despite the huge council taxes we all pay to LCC.