Council Remove A Kerb Of History


Local residents are appalled with the council’s actions as they took away a piece of history in their streets. During roadworks in Grenfell and Grove Road the council removed the communities’ Victorian kerbstones without consultation. During the work that took place in July and August the beautiful blue kerbstones were replaced with dull concrete ones. Not only were residents annoyed with the fact that a part of history was removed from their lives, especially in a conservation area, they were more infuriated with the way the council didn’t let them know what they were doing.

One resident Amanda Attfield said: “The Council gave us three weeks notice of street repairs, advising us to park our cars elsewhere, but giving no indication of where we should park, the nature of the work, or how long it would take.” At the last Community Travel Plan meeting residents found out that the Councils Conservation department had no power to stop the traffic section from doing this. Jaba has now discovered that the Conservation section of the council were told the kerbstones were unusable - in fact local residents say they were in perfect condition unlike the concrete ones that have replaced them. Travel Plan Steering Group Chairman, Paul Towner, told JABA: “We are all extremely disappointed by the lack of consultation - as well as by the actual changes that have been made, which are badly out of keeping with the houses. I have written to the Council raising issues about conservation and consultation, and about consideration for the householders affected - and also asking where ‘our’ kerbstones have gone!” In response, the Council's Director of Environment, Graham Dunhill, said "We simply do not have the resources to seek a concensus in every street to the materials used" and " ... modern concrete kerbs do weather and will become the future desirable feature to be retained." We are not sure whether this last comment was meant to be serious or an attempt at humour! Read more for the full text of the letter ...

Dear Paul,

Further to my e mail of 12th September I have looked into the issues you
have raised and my comments are as follows.

Whilst the local community project for St. James and Bartonsham has
addressed a wide variety of transportation issues the design features
are associated with the desire to promote a shared space initiative. Our
ongoing maintenance works programmes are now shared with Local Members
by my Area Managers on an annual basis and it is through our Members
that any issues of concern would normally emerge. Works in
Conservation areas should accord with standards for such locations and
our Conservation Officers advise on the approach to be taken,
particularly if we are unable to restore the infrastructure with the
same materials previously used. In the locations outside the
Conservations areas it may be appropriate for conservation advice to be
obtained and indeed this did ouccur in respect of the footways you have
concerns about.

To answer your question as to why there was no consultation is simply
that hitherto it has not been a feature of such activity, rather one of
establishing the works in a programme to which the Local Member should
be aware and liaising with residents at the time the works are
undertaken.

I see no reason for Local Members not to involve the local community in
considering how maintenance works should be addressed in a generic sense
but the Council has to take into account the costs of non standardised
specifications. We simply do not have the resources to seek a concensus
in every street to the materials used.

Clearly there is more to be done in developing the
officer/member/community relationships to try and achieve the
appropriate streetscene within the constraints the Council operates
under.

The advice I have been given in respect of the low Victorian kerbs is
that it was not considered possible to lift and relay all of them given
their condition. Many have been salvaged and are capable of being
reused elsewhere and will be so in due course. I am sure there will be
differences of opinion on the merits of this decision but it seems
reasonable to me, and modern concrete kerbs do weather and will become
the future desirable feature to be retained.

The height of kerbs is interesting in addressing the needs of various
road users within the requirement to protect pedestrians and give
sufficient room for prams/pushchairs to pass parked vehicles. This
opens up the issue of shared space once more and we do need to win over
hearts and minds if we are to succeed in creating attractive streets
which ought not to need high kerbs but equally should not simply be on
street parking areas with priority given to such vehicles and those
negotiating the streets at the expense of pedestrians/cyclists and
residents.

I take your points about the advice to residents and businesses in the
area but there is no simple solution. Displaced vehicles inevitably
have to compete with others in the area. We do not hold banks of land
for temporary use and Government acknowledges the effects on the
business community for disruption due to maintenance works given there
is a statutory duty to maintain. In other words it is not felt
reasonable that the public purse should bear further costs than those
which ensure the roads and footways are maintained and fit for purpose.

As I discussed earlier any link to the main ongoing project in St. James
and Bartonsham would not necessarily have been made given the nature of
the types of scheme involved. We can do better and I will discuss with
the Local Member how preparations for next year's programmes are
progressing.

Hope to see you on 2nd November when we can discuss further.

Graham


Graham Dunhill
Director of Environment

Tel: 01432 260041
Fax: 01432 340189

Posted: Thu - November 10, 2005 at 02:14 pm          


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