17/09/2009

Pity the Council does not take its own medicine

Posted in State of the footpaths, Thurrock Council at 6:01 pm by henrysgauntlet

So four weeks ago Henry received a letter from the Council.   It said that inspection had shown that Henry’s shrubs were overhanging the highway, or to be more exact the footpath, and it gave Henry 28 days to cut them back.

The letter invited Henry to telephone the writer to discuss further, and gave the ‘phone number.   As it happened, Henry had already arranged for some work to be done on trees in the back garden, and that was scheduled for yesterday, ie four weeks after the date of the letter, and two weeks after the deadline imposed.   So Henry decided to ‘phone the nice lady who had invited such a telephone call.

Thus began a battle with the Council’s telephone system.  Henry, “may I speak to Ms ??? please.”   Operator, “what do you want to talk to her about?”   Henry, “I’ve received a letter from her this morning, and she says I should call her to discuss it”.   Operator, “right, I’ll try to connect you”.   Pause.   Operator, “she says what do you want to speak to her about?”     And so it went on, for some considerable time.

Why do they bother to invite residents, (who are Council Tax payers and voters, and therefore their bosses), to telephone if they don’t want to speak to them, and are going to make it so amazingly difficult to do so?

Eventually we did speak, and the lady said she would note on Henry’s file that the work would be done in the week beginning 14 September.

So yesterday Henry’s two tree-cutters arrived and spent most of the day attacking the overgrown and self-sown trees at the back, and then cut the front shrubs.

Meanwhile, Henry had to make a short visit to Grays Town Centre, and, as the tree-cutters’ van was in front of the garage, Henry walked and went via Cromwell Road.   And it was there that the double standards really struck home.  

Cromwell Road at the Hathaway Road end is almost impassable.   There are two massive trees on the footpath, and the roots of both have pushed up the tarmac to a dangerous extent.   The surface really is most dangerous, so uneven and with humps and cracks.   Treacherous even for the sure of foot and unacceptably hazardous for the elderly or infirm.  

Then, to make matters worse, there are trees overhanging the footpath from the property alongside  –  and that property is Robertson House, a Council block of flats.   It is they which make the footpath impassable, they stretch for ten or twelve feet and are so low that Henry had to bend double to get through.

So it will be interesting to see how long it takes for the Council’s Housing Department to get one of those letters from the nice lady about its shrubs overhanging the footpath  –  or is it just, as we all think, one law for them and another for us!

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