Yesterday, I received an email from Essex County Council, notifying me of the Conservative cabinet member decision for the "Removal of Highways Rangers service and funding for Districts."
Well I don't know about you, but I'm rather concerned about this decision as I'm really rather fond of having all these services carried out as part of the Council tax that we pay to Essex County Council every year!
- Cleaning and minor repairs (non-electrical road signs and bollards).
- Reinstatement of posts and bollards where no excavation is required.
- Trimming of vegetation. This is restricted to minor trimming to improve the visibility of signs. Vegetation trimming cannot be carried above head height.
- Ad hoc grass cutting and strimming of highway verges.
- Repairs to light damage of roadside verges.Light damage is cosmetic damage to the verge that would not meet the intervention level for repair by Essex Highways.
- Removal of graffiti from road signs – where this can be done without the use of a ladder or traffic management.
- Painting of street furniture (posts, bollardsand benches etc.)
- Removal of weeds
- Removal of illegal signs and fly-posting – where the work can be done safely without the need for ladders or traffic management.
- Resetting slabs – where this can be done without excavating the bed
- Cleaning footway drainage channels.
- Cleaning footway gully pots.
My concern doesn't just stop at the the defunding of this service, I am suspicious of the way that this has been carried out. There appears to be no consultation with District Councils or residents. I know from my own inbox that residents want these services. The alternative is for District Councils to fund these service themselves or simply stop providing the service. How are District Councils to fund these services? Increase council tax? Cut other services they deliver? Where will it end?
I'm not prepared to take this lying down, as I don't think any of us should, some bean counter in an office, slicing a bit here and a bit there with no thought for the real consquences of their calculator roulette methods.
As an Essex County Council member, I've requested this decision is 'called in' so we can publically scrutinise the decision and try and point out the 'error of their ways'.
I'm afraid this Essex CC decision doesn't the mustard for me and they'll be more to follow on this as I get more news to share.