Highways Issues Around South Woodham Ferrers

On 16th September I wrote a letter to Essex County Councillor Kevin Bentley highlighting a number of highways issues and asked when they were scheduled to be addressed. For your information, he replied with the following information:

A132 Burnham Road, from the Shaw Farm roundabout to the Rettenden Turnpike

He reported a full inspection of Burnham Road was carried out on 26 September 2019, adding While we do have some defects logged for this section of carriageway they do not warrant urgent attention at this time, therefore no works are currently planned.

The railway bridge on Ferrers Road

The Highway Inspector did not record any issues with the railway bridge during a routine inspection on 9 September 2019.

Defective drain cover in Hullbridge Road

Unfortunately, the reply referenced a drain near the junction with Orchid Place not the one I had reported. I was informed that, An inspection of the drain was carried out on 25 September 2019 and a job is in the process of being programmed. I can confirm that this work (near Orchid Place) has now been finished.

B1418 (to Woodham Ferrers)

Apparently this road was inspected on 27 September 2019, prompted by reports of problems. I was surprised to hear that, The Highway Inspector was unable to find any issues meeting our ‘Investigatory Level’ for consideration.

Road edges on Willow Grove and Creephedge Lane

This seemed more promising, with the following good news being delivered. I am happy to inform you we are currently in the process of planning patching works for both Willow Grove and Creephedge Lane. We do not have a confirmed date for this work at this time but we are hopeful this will completed by the end of November 2019. Please be aware all works are weather dependent and there is a chance these may be delayed.

Ferrers Road (Crossing)

Requests for a controlled crossing can’t be made by anyone except Cllr Massey who, would need to make an application via the Chelmsford Local Highways Panel.

The full correspondence between us can be viewed below.

The only positive news is the 'patching works' along Willow Grove and Creephedge Lane, something the Town Council have been nagging about for nearly a year. Given the state of the road edges there needs to be slightly more than just patching done.

Where the Ferrers Rd crossing is concerned, both Town and City Councillors have asked ECC for a reduced speed limit (to 30mph), as it is frequently used by pedestrians, particularly school children. They did a speed survey and noted that the average speed along this stretch of road was only slightly over 30mph. Then they came to the odd conclusion that the speed limit should stay at 40mph. Furthermore, I made the point in my letter that this must be the only uncontrolled town centre crossing in a 40mph zone in the County, which is against current government regulations. So, now we are being told to go through the Highways Panel which they know will take 4 years (or longer) to get a decision and that might still be, 'No'.

As a local party we are certainly not happy with any of these responses and look forward to challenging for a seat on Essex County Council at the next opportunity to represent our residents' concerns about highways and other matters.

Keith Bentley
Chelmsford City Councillor for Elmwood & Woodville Ward

Here is the corresepondence in full:

Dear Cllr. Kevin Bentley,

On behalf of the residents of South Woodham Ferrers, I would like to ask whether you are aware of a number of highways related issues around our town? If so, could you tell me what plans you have for remedying the situations and when they are planned to be carried out? If you are unaware of these issues then I would respectfully ask that one of your team has a look to confirm my concerns. In no particular order:

The road from Shaw Farm roundabout to Rettenden Turnpike (A132 Burnham Rd) has deteriorated once again – severely, on the westbound side of the road. There are large dips, bumps and cracks appearing in the carriageway making it dangerous for high-sided vehicles in particular.

The road over the railway bridge on Ferrers Rd at the west side of town is also continuing to deteriorate, with large cracks and dips in evidence.

There is a particularly deeply sunk drain on Hullbridge Rd approaching the Spar roundabout from the south which is extremely hazardous to cyclists and may cause damage to vehicles.

The recent resurfacing work done on the B1418 between South Woodham Ferrers and Woodham Ferrers has been badly damaged in a number of places.

The road edges on Willow Grove and Creephedge Lane, reported earlier this year by the Town Council, are still in a very poor state in many places with danger to road users of causing an accident through swerving or ending up off the highway.

Finally, the stretch of Ferrers Road which you advised the Town Council would not be reduced to a 30mph limit (between Inchbonnie Rd and Creekview Rd), will now need you to consider putting a controlled crossing in – unless of course you want to change your mind over the speed limit. I am unaware of any other stretch of road in Essex where a 40mph road in a town centre does not have a controlled crossing. This is government regulations, as I'm sure you are fully aware. The survey you had done indicated that the average speed at the 85th percentile was very close to 30mph, so I see no reason why there would be issues over reducing the speed limit.

Kind regards...Cllr. Keith Bentley (South Woodham Ferrers Council Taxpayers Association)

Dear Keith

 

Thank you for your letter dated 16 September 2019 regarding the ongoing issues in South Woodham Ferrers.

 

While I appreciate the concerns you have raised, may I assure you that every report sent to us is treated as very important and as a County Council we aspire to repair all highway defects in good time. Essex is an extremely large county and the reality is that across a network covering more than 5000 miles of road, with more than 1500 structures and 127,000 street lights, there is the need to prioritise how we spend your council tax money to best effect of all residents.

 

At present this prioritisation sees precedence being given to our principal road network, the repair of the worst pot holes and a focus on other safety critical work such as flooding and bridge repairs. This does not mean that your reported repairs are not important to us and we will repair all defects just as soon as is humanly possible given the constraints that I have explained.

I will list each issue raised in your correspondence with an update below:

 

A132 Burnham Road, from the Shaw Farm roundabout to the Rettenden Turnpike

A full inspection of Burnham Road was carried out on 26 September 2019.  While we do have some defects logged for this section of carriageway they do not warrant urgent attention at this time, therefore no works are currently planned.  The carriageway will continue to be monitored during future routine monthly inspections, however if there is a particular carriageway defect you are concerned about, you can report this to us via their dedicated online Report it Tool: www.essexhighways.org/transport-and-roads.aspx. You will be given a unique reference number which can be used to track the progress of the inspection.

 

The railway bridge on Ferrers Road

The routine inspection of Ferrers Road was undertaken on 9 September 2019.  The Highway Inspector did not record any issues with the railway bridge, although in light of your concerns I have requested that an ad hoc inspection is carried out.  You can track the progress of the inspection using your unique reference number 2634375 via the ‘Check a Query’ pages of the Report it Tool.

 

Defective drain cover in Hullbridge Road

We do have one issue with a drain already logged along Hullbridge Road near to the junction with Orchid Place.  An inspection of the drain was carried out on 25 September 2019 and a job is in the process of being programmed.  As the works will require my team to dig below the highway surface they are required to request relevant utility stats information before works can commence.  These searched can take several weeks, therefore I am unable to provide you with a specific date at this time but please be assured we will work to have this completed at the earliest convenience.

 

If this is not the drain you are referring to please report this fault to us via the Report It Tool.

 

B1418

The recent inspection of Main Road was carried out on 27 September 2019, following reports of issues with the carriageway.  The Highway Inspector was unable to find any issues meeting our ‘Investigatory Level’ for consideration. To view how we assess carriageway defects and the different response times we must adhere to, please visit the ‘Potholes’ page of the Essex County Council website: http://www.essexhighways.org/transport-and-roads/Roads-and-Pavements/potholes.aspx

 

Road edges on Willow Grove and Creephedge Lane

I am happy to inform you we are currently in the process of planning patching works for both Willow Grove and Creephedge Lane.  We do not have a confirmed date for this work at this time but we are hopeful this will completed by the end of November 2019.  Please be aware all works are weather dependent and there is a chance these may be delayed.

 

Ferrers Road

In order for a controlled crossing to be considered in Ferrer Road Cllr Massey, copied into this correspondence, would need to make an application via the Chelmsford Local Highways Panel.  I would therefore, politely suggest liaising with Cllr Massey in regards to this request.

 

I wish to thank you for taking the time to contact me and I trust you find the above information useful.

Cllr. Kevin Bentley

 

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure
Member for Stanway and Pyefleet
Essex County Council

Dear Kevin,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my letter. I was pleased to hear that the road edges along Willow Grove and Creephedge Lane are going to be improved. I would like to point out that there are a number of places along this stretch of road which have deep ruts next to the roadway. I am hoping these will be infilled with appropriate material so that vehicles who venture over the edge don't end up in an irrigation ditch or with a broken axle.

However, I am not happy with the other five issues raised. I don't care how recently your team have assessed the Burnham Road, there is no way that can be said to be safe. This road is a main road off the Dengie peninsula and is used by many commuters and delivery lorries. Since the same problem was addressed a couple of years ago, the original road construction must have been of really low standard. The Old Wickford Road has never had the same issues and runs practically the same route.

I have tried the tools you suggest and find they aren't up to the job. The drain on Hullbridge Road is not the broken one near Orchid Place but one nearer Warwick Parade. I am amazed this hasn't been spotted as your assessor probably drove down or swerved round it to get out of town.

The gradual slip, crack and bulge of the road near the railway bridge on Ferrers Road has been an issue for at least a year. I didn't understand why this piece of road wasn't repaired when the one on the other side of town near the other railway bridge was done. It wasn't safe then and it still isn't safe.

Suggesting that we use the Highways Panel to get the controlled crossing on Ferrers Road is a good wheeze, knowing how long it takes to get anything through and then it has to be agreed by you anyway! You realise that refusing to make it a controlled crossing is against all guidelines. Our Town Council has previously asked for the speed limit to be reduced on this section of road. Your survey showed cars travelled at only just above 30mph (85th percentile) along there anyway so why don't you just reduce the speed limit and save everyone a lot of money financing a controlled crossing and make the road safer for pedestrians, particularly school children crossing for William de Ferrers School.

I believe the issue with the road surface on the road up to Woodham Ferrers is one of poor adhesion of the top and you should get your contractors or sub-contractors out to do the job properly or at least make repairs. This is a case of a lack of inspection after the job which should have led to repair. I remind you our residents expect value for money as Council Tax payers.

I hope you will reconsider some of the highways issues I've rehearsed again. If you do, please let me know.

Kind regards...Keith Bentley