State of the roads

Letter from John Hartnup, Directory of Bidston Observatory, complaining about the state of the road

Letter from John Hartnup, Directory of Bidston Observatory, complaining about the state of the road leading to the Observatory and Lighthouse in 1874.

Little has changed in 140 years, apart from the names. The road is now Wilding Way, which is dangerously potholed. The roles of the Dock Board and Mr Vyner are now played by the Natural Environment Research Council and Wirral Borough Council, and I’m cast in the role of John Hartnup.

Wirral Borough Council own the road in question, and have the duty to maintain it. This is a condition of the lease from Wirral Borough Council to NERC over the piece of land that was once the kitchen gardens of the lighthouse and more recently the site of the Joseph Proudman Building, if only for a little while.

Despite owning the road, and being responsible for maintaining it, the Council have never actually adopted it. So whenever someone reports a pothole in the road through the proper channels (i.e. via this webpage), the complaint is initially referred to the people who look after Roads, who eventually pass the buck to the people who look after Parks (because it’s part of the Bidston Hill estate). Parks have neither the budget nor the equipment to do anything about it, so the complaint is finally closed (without informing the complainant). I’ve tried this several times and I always get the same result. Have a go yourself if you don’t believe me: here’s that link again.

I have a lot of sympathy for Parks. Wirral Council has been hit hard by round after round of unprecedented cuts, and it’s not over yet. Parks is feeling the pinch. Four senior ranger posts have been eliminated recently, and Bidston Hill and Flaybrick Cemetery have just lost their dedicated ranger. It will be a miracle if Bidston Hill doesn’t lose its Green Flag status within a year or two.

The only player in this drama with the power to make Wirral Borough Council fix the road is NERC. I have no rights under English law to enforce a condition in a contract to which I am not a party. So I shall write to NERC, in the hope that they in turn will write to Wirral Borough Council. In that respect, John Hartnup had the advantage over me, for he at least could expect the Dock Board, his masters, to fight his corner.

Yours truly,

Stephen Pickles

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2 thoughts on “State of the roads

  1. admin Post author

    Today, Thursday 1 October 2015, the potholes on Wilding Way were filled, at last!

    Having inspected the maps of road adoptions at the Council offices, I can now cast a little more light on the status of the road leading from Boundary Road to the Observatory and Lighthouse.

    The part that starts at Boundary Road and finishes at the perimeter wall is called Wilding Way. Wilding Way is a public road owned and maintained by the Council, in spite of which it is not an “adopted road”. Public footpath No. 23 (signposted “Public footpath to Eleanor Road”) runs along Wilding Way for part of its length then turns to the left. Wilding Way is maintained by Leisure Services (which includes Parks).

    The part that starts at the perimeter wall is a private road, although it is regularly traversed by public services (fire applicances and vehicles for refuse collection) as well as private vehicles owned by residents of and visitors to the Observator and Lighthouse. The Council is responsible for maintaining it from the perimeter wall to the eastern boundary of the lighthouse land. This is written into the lease from the Council to NERC over the land on which the Joseph Proudman Building used to stand until it was demolished in 2013. This part of the road is still in need of repair, but no-one seems to be admitting responsibility.

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