A raw deal for taxpayers

From: Mike Grant Beach Road

Friday, 4th May 2018, 10:01 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:35 am
Call the newsdesk on 01323 414488 or email eastbourne.herald@jpress.co.uk SUS-180130-143238001
Call the newsdesk on 01323 414488 or email [email protected] SUS-180130-143238001

A recent journey from Eastbourne to Burwash reinforced my view that East Sussex roads are in a very bad state and I am not just talking about potholes.

Whole stretches of rural roads are worn out. Perhaps the worst example is the road from Wartling past Herstmonceux Castle to Windmill Hill. The surface is very uneven and white lining in the middle of the road missing. At Bodle Street Green the junction Give Way road markings were completely worn out. With an absence of give way signs I could see an accident happening there.

I reported this to East Sussex Highways, my message was acknowledged and shortly afterwards I received a reply to say problem has been fixed. I assume the lines have now been painted. A responsive organisation you might think, but my question is why was the problem not picked up by highways inspectors? Their own Highway Asset Inspection Guidance Document makes it clear major roads such as A roads should be inspected once a month, urban local access roads every six months and the smallest rural access road once a year.

It is clear not just at Bodle Street Green but at multiple rural and urban road junctions that worn out painted give way markings are not spotted by the supposed inspection regime. In some cases the deterioration is so bad you have to conclude the last time white lining was done must have been five to 10 years ago or more considering the low volume of traffic and slow expected deterioration.

So my question is, why have the inspectors not seen and acted on these obvious faults without having to rely on reports from members of the public? I conclude, either the inspections are not happening or the inspectors are going around with their eyes closed. Moreover, over the years I have also seen many examples of important warning road signs not being visible by oncoming drivers due to being turned around or obscured by vegetation and staying like that for months or years on end.

On another highways issue I reported a blocked drain in Beach Road where I live. It frequently leads to flooding in the road. On 14/2/18 I received an e-mail from highways to say it has been inspected by a local steward and the drain would be cleared within 28 days. On 22/3/18 I e-mailed highways again to say the drain had still not been cleared. A month on, no reply no fix. A neighbour has informed me he has contacted the authorities about the drain on several occasions all to no avail. If East Sussex Highways were a business I was engaging I would judge them unfit for purpose and I would have fired them long ago.

An official survey a few years ago showed that East Sussex was one of the most dangerous areas in the country for serious injuries and deaths on the roads.

In fact a report by East Sussex County Council in June 2015 showed that the rate of people killed or seriously injured on the roads of East Sussex in general and Rother and Wealden in particular were significantly worse than England as a whole. Whilst there are several causes that are behind these stats surely road maintenance must play a role. Meanwhile council tax payers get a raw deal.