Highways told to improve lines of communication between town and parish councils

The recently re-surfaced Conging Street. EMN-190729-121108001
The recently re-surfaced Conging Street. EMN-190729-121108001

A leading campaigner in the fight to ease Horncastle’s notorious traffic issues has backed town councillors in their recent condemnation of highways operations at Lincolnshire County Council.

Andrew Neal says he is writing to county council leader Martin Hill and MP Victoria Atkins to highlight what he claims is an ‘appalling and unacceptable’ situation regarding communications between Highways officers and local town and parish councils.

Mr Neal made his comments after the county council’s executive councillor for highways, Richard Davies, failed to turn up for a Horncastle Town Council meeting earlier this month.

Coun Davies had been expected to face questions from councillors and residents about a host of highways issues – including an update on a long-awaited town bypass which Mr Neal has long campaigned for.

In the event, councillors had to debate issues amongst themselves and write to Coun Davies for answers.

Mr Neal, who attended the meeting, said: “As a member of the public, I have sat and listened to the debate regarding communication between the county council and town and parish councils regarding communication.

“It (the situation) is appalling and unacceptable.”

Mr Neal went on to say that ideally, town and parish council clerks should have a direct line of communication to officers at County Hall.

Under current arrangements, they have to contact the county council’s customer services department – just like residents.

Mr Neal added: “Town clerks should be a focal point and have direct access.

“This town council should take the lead and let county know we do not accept what is happening.

“I know the county council is blaming staff cuts and redundancies but we are not getting the service we pay our taxes for.

“I will write to the council leader and to Westminster to show that we are not being served.”

Mr Neal went on to highlight recent repairs to Conging Street.

He said a newly laid surface meant drivers would be advised to ’take sea sickness pills’ and questioned whether the work had been checked by County Hall.

He also called for High Street to be re-surfaced from the Market Place to the Bull Ring saying the ‘higgly, piggly state of the road’ meant the town centre resembled a ‘third world country.’

Mr Neal also told councillors the on-line system for reporting road issues –‘Fixmystreet’ –was ‘not fit for purpose’ because while it acknowledged an issue, it failed to provide updates.

County councillor Bill Aron defended the highways department and pointed out a number of projects had been completed in Horncastle recently – many of them involving major expenditure.

He told town councillors the current ‘lines of communication’ had been put in place because a reduced number of highways’ staff could not be expected to cope with phone calls from councils and residents.

Coun Aron said if town councillors and residents contacted him, he would raise issues with County Hall and provide an answer as soon as possible.

lThe town council is still trying to agree a date for a meeting with Coun Davies.