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Action demanded on Ongar rural roads

By Ongar Gazette  |  Posted: March 06, 2012

  • John Glover of Toot Hill Rd and chair of Stanford Rivers Parish Council is campaigning about potholes and overgrown hedgerows - the hedgerows are the responsibility of the land owner

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CAMPAIGNERS are fighting to see improvements made to rural roads around Ongar.

After a string of crashes and accidents on the small country roads that surround the town and nearby villages, people living in the area say that steps need to be taken to make the roads safer.

Last week the Gazette reported how villagers in Stanford Rivers plan a crackdown on speeding drivers who are plaguing the A113.

Accidents happen there more than once a month, and a 61-year-old motorcyclist suffered serious head injuries in a crash two weeks ago.

But smaller roads in the villages, which often have national speed limits, are also beset with problems, such as potholes and overgrown hedgerows.

Stanford Rivers Parish Council chairman John Glover said: "There is a real issue on smaller roads like the ones in our parish.

"One of the main issues is potholes. Main roads are usually dealt with quite quickly, but smaller roads like Toot Hill Road can have potholes and not be looked at for a long time.

"I know people who have gone out with a bucket of concrete and tried to fill them in themselves because it was taking too long for Essex County Council to deal with.

"They left a cone on it to warn drivers, and when they took it away the bottom part stayed stuck in it, which is how it is now."

The other key issue is overgrown hedgerows.

Mr Glover said: "There are places where hedgerows come out into the road. Places where cars should be able to pass are made too narrow.

"They also cover up signs and make it more dangerous for people walking in the road."

Essex county councillor Gerard McEwen who represents Ongar, said people had to take responsibility for their land.

"The Highways department don't cut hedges along rural lanes," Mr McEwen said.

"Landowners have to play their part.

"It comes down to a matter of funds in the end. Although it would be lovely if we could tackle every job, there isn't a bottomless pit of money and priorities have to be made."

Tracey Chapman, Essex County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation said: "In the vast majority of cases, rural hedges are the responsibility of the adjoining landowner as a 'boundary feature'.

"It is ECC's duty to maintain highways in a safe condition and this includes encroaching vegetation, which is monitored through regular highway inspections.

"Should the issue not be addressed by the landowner as requested, or should the threat to highway users be imminent, the council will undertake the work and re-claim the cost from the registered land owner."

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