Tuesday, 23 December 2008

£2.1 Million New Year Present for Cheshire Motorists and Pedestrians

£2.1 Million New Year Present for Cheshire Motorists and Pedestrians
Cheshire County Council is giving a £2.1 million New Year present to the motorists and pedestrians of Cheshire with extra funding being spent on road and pavement repairs.
Money will be spent repairing mainly estate and rural roads and pavements and it is hoped that the work will take place before the end of March. The amount to be spent in this area is £381,000. I wonder if they will correct any of the bodges on this road?
All they are doing is spending taxpayer's money that was earmarked for landfill. If they don't spend it before end of March they will lose it. This is normal practice for public authorities, particularly those that are just about to cease to exist. However, you could hardly call spending taxpayers money a Christmas present!
This is so, so ironic because the only reason Cheshire County Council bodged the road in the vicinity of my property was because they didn't have the money to do it properly.
Maybe they should earmark a proportion for future legal and court costs.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Fault 11: Missing lamp standards (street lights)

Cheshire County Council recently adopted the highway, even though the highway is not in the planned or dedicated position nor built to planned and approved standards. In addition to the faults I have already highlighted two of the planned lamp standards (street lights) are also missing. Lamp standards that should have been installed in 1994 at the very latest.

Cheshire County Council's Design Aid Adoption Procedure Annex states that street lighting should be in accord with their current street lighting specification.

The originally planned street lighting was in accord with their street lighting specification unfortunately someone not only forgot to install two lamp standards someone obviously forgot to check they had been installed before adopting the highway.

Cheshire County Council Street Lighting Question and Answers:


Developers for example, are now required to provide lighting on all new developments which are to be adopted and thereafter maintained at public expense.

We have lived on this new development for some time now. Why are the streetlights not yet working? Developers normally have an Agreement with the County Council to construct new roads to a standard suitable for future adoption. Streetlights are normally erected and commissioned in stages, as the estate is built. In some cases, houses may become occupied before streetlights are connected. The responsibility for the lights at this stage rests with the Developer. Prior to adoption of the new highway, the lights will be comprehensively inspected and if found to be satisfactory, ownership and responsibility will be transferred to the County Council.

Why is street lighting provided? Studies have shown the benefits of good street lighting as an aid to road safety and as a crime prevention measure. There is also evidence of the benefit of lighting in improving the amenity and commercial viability of an area.

What are the road safety benefits? It has long been recognised that good public lighting can improve road safety. In most industrialised countries nighttime accidents account for about half of all accidents, even though traffic flows are much lower at night. In addition nighttime accidents tend to be more severe.

In today’s crowded driving conditions, the driving task at night is very complex and it is essential that drivers have good visual recognition of the hazards ahead. It is not surprising, therefore, that there is strong evidence that good street lighting can cut nighttime accidents by up to 30%, giving tangible benefits to society which are much greater than the cost of the lighting itself.

How can good lighting help to reduce crime and the fear of crime? Research has shown that certain groups of people suffer a disproportionate amount of crime, in particular, households which have been victimised, women and young people out after dark and the elderly, especially those subject to vandalism and disorderly behaviour.

A common factor linking crimes committed against these groups is that they commonly occur after dark, so it comes as no surprise that research by criminologists carried out into lighting and crime has shown that targeted public lighting improvements can make the biggest impact on crime reduction.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is Latin for 'Who guards the guardians?'

'The guardian class is to protect the city. "Who will guard the guardians?" or, "Who will protect us against the protectors?" Plato's answer to this is that they will guard themselves against themselves.'

Cheshire County Council as Highway Authority should protect the county from others building unsafe roads. My question to them is 'why are they not protecting themselves against themselves?'

Cheshire County Council Design Aid

Cheshire County Council's Design Aid states that carriageway construction shall be designed in accordance with the principles laid down in the Highway Agency Standards; Design Manual for Road and Bridges Volumes 1 to 10.

Cheshire County Council's Design Aid has been adopted as policy and is a statement of the adoption standards of the Highway Authority.
It also states that any adverse impacts are addressed and the Design Aid is to be used in the assessment of planning applications. Unless of course you are Cheshire County Council then you can throw it out of the window along with planning consent and implement any old bodge you want.

Cheshire County Council's Design Aid also states that there is a need for certain minimum standards which will ensure that road safety is not compromised and that roads and footpaths are fit for there intended purpose. In addition it also states that safety of all road users remains of paramount importance and is a key issue which must be addressed at the design stage. Until of course you are Cheshire County Council and you need to extricate yourself from your self created difficulties then you can throw safety out of the window along with the design aid.

A copy of Cheshire County Council's 'Design Aid: Housing, Industrial and Commercial Estate Roads' can be purchased from the County Engineer, Cheshire County Council, Backford Hall, Chester CH1 6EA.

Fault 10: Excessive use of dropped kerbs.

Cheshire County Council's own design aid states dropped kerbs are required on Local Distributor Roads at vehicle crossings for a length equal to the width of the drive plus 2 metres.


Someone obviously forgot to read the design guide before planning the latest bodge.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The underlying reason behind the bodged highway.

During the late 90's a Cheshire County Council Senior Engineer together with one of their own Surveyors carried out a detailed inspection of the 'as constructed' highway works on phase 1 of the development and compared the results against the approved plans. In front of witnesses the Senior Engineer remarked that there was something seriously wrong with the highway.

The problem they faced was that during 1992, without any prudent checks, the Highway Authority had foolishly given the Developer a part one certificate for the road. Essentially this accepted that the highway was being constructed as planned (even though it demonstrably wasn't). That meant that they couldn't now claim off the Developers insurance company to put matters right even though the highway was not as planned.

Therefore, the only option available to Cheshire County Council, should they wish to correct the faults, was to pay for the works themselves. Their reluctance to pay for the highway faults to be eliminated is the sole reason why they accepted rather than corrected any of the highway faults they had uncovered during their investigation. In essence they used their 'authority' to avoided the cost of their own negligence by accepting a bodged road.

When you also take into account that I had informed them about the highway problems well before they even signed the Section 38 Highway Adoption Agreement with the Developer and the Insurance Company it makes you wonder why they signed the agreement during 1991 let alone give the Developer a Part 1 compliance certificate during 1992. Was this just a double dose of incompetence or something more serious?

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Design Standards

'A local authority will need to provide evidence that new works were safe and properly designed, and did not inadvertently trap road users into danger. A local authority may wish to cite in evidence that the works complied with appropriate standards or design guidance or according to principles that have been properly applied.'

Frequently asked question on Cheshire County Council's own website. How are roads on new housing estates adopted? Answer: Roads on new housing and industrial estates are designed and constructed to standards set out in the County Council's Design Aid for Housing, Industrial and Commercial Estate Roads'.

I have a copy of the County Council's Design Aid for Housing, Industrial and Commercial Estate Roads and can assure everyone that the road, although originally designed to the said standards by the developer, has not actually been constructed to those standards by Cheshire County Council.

Although Cheshire County Council charges for copies of their Design Aid many other Councils provide free access on-line.
North Lincolnshire is one such Council as is The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. When you consider that all County Council Design Aids are derived from the same sources you will appreciate why County Council Design Aids are very similar.

In addition design bulletin 32 (DB32) also gives guidance on the layout of residential roads and footpaths. The Institute of Civil Engineers also publishes a useful abstract about the bulletin.

A footway is required on each side of a local distributor road, unless it is quite clear that there will be no pedestrian traffic and a separate footpath system is provided. The minimum width of footway and footpaths is 1.8m but an informal alignment is preferred. A highway verge may be provided between the footway and the kerb, with a minimum width of 2m.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Analogy

Can you imagine the uproar if VOSA (the organisation that manages MOTs for vehicles), in order to save money, decided, rather than bringing their own vehicles up to the normal standard necessary to pass an MOT they would simply reduce the standard for their own vehicles!

Well that's exactly what Cheshire County Council has done with the roadway in the vicinity of my property. In order to save money (they think, see ironic twist later), they have simply reduced the standards to well below those they would normally accept from a developer.

In the MOT analogy above, the downside is that unsafe vehicles would be on the road creating a significant risk factor for VOSA. In the Cheshire County Council case the downside is that the highway in the vicinity of my property is still unsafe creating a significant risk factor for them.

Time will tell, it eventually does!