Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


Sir Humphrey’s contempt for elected representatives: Part II

Back in November I wrote about the narrow dirt path, which connects the road I live on with the bus stop on Foxhall Road, a main road in Ipswich. Three years ago, when I was a councillor, I chaired a Committee at Ipswich Borough Council which approved a scheme to pave this heavily-used dirt path, thereby joining up the path with the already paved section which runs by the side of the Co-op convenience store.

Councillors approved path paving ONE year ago

As part of the approval process because the dirt path would need to be “adopted” by the Council – i.e. they will have to maintain it once it is paved over (well, what do I pay my council tax for?) – a meeting of all 48 Borough Councillors had to approve the works, which they duly did in March 2011. This was ONE year ago!

Since then NOTHING has happened. The bureaucrats at the Council have sat on their hands and fobbed off Holywells councillors, like the ever dutiful Cllr Liz Harsant, with excuses such as “we need to get Secretary of State approval”. So some pygmy officer at Grafton House thinks he has to go and ask Her Majesty’s Department of Transport if they can pave over a 20 metre dirt track in an Ipswich suburb. Funnily enough it later transpired Ipswich Borough officials didn’t need to ask Justine Greening to pave a path but instead could get on with implementing the councillors’ decision straight away. But have they got on with it. No, they have twiddled their thumbs for a year and counting!

Last November, the officer gave this update:

I have instructed Legal to make a footpath creation order for the alleyway between Gladstone and Foxhall Road. 

The order will be advertised shortly and if there are no objections we will be able to implement the scheme without the need to gain Secretary of State approval, which was the original thought and has delayed things somewhat.
Funding for the scheme has been approved by the Community Improvements Team and is still ring-fenced to this project.

Today, 7th March 2012, the same officer gave this update:

In order to implement any works here it is necessary to create a public footpath order. The attached file outlines the process and I have instructed Legal to proceed with making the order and consulting with the relevant parties initially. This will then allow a decision on when we can proceed and is subject to objections being received.  [my highlighting]

So either the officer had not asked the Council’s Legal department to make up a footpath creation order or the Legal department did absolutely nothing for four months and it would seem they are still doing nothing. May be the socialists running the Legal department have cottoned on to the fact Holywells is a Conservative ward?

The procedure for a public footpath creation order under Section 26 of the Highways Act 1980 can be read here. The forth bullet point says:

Post copy of notice AND PLAN at each end of proposed path

I can report this notice has not been displayed. As this task is quite high up in the procedure, the lack of a notice doesn’t bode well for the full procedure being implemented any time soon.

No wonder people are fed up with bloated local government.