THURROCK Council learned last week that despite "over a year’s worth of promises" to tidy up and close lay-bys on the Dock Approach Road in Tilbury, Highways England are doing on U-turn and refusing.
Concerns from residents, senior council leadership and councillors, have been raised over the safety of other road users when heavy goods vehicles overhang on the lay-bys as well as the health concerns regarding the waste left behind.
The waste being left behind is significant which has included human waste, litter, food and debris.
“It is an absolute disgrace – but I’ve learnt to not trust anything Highways England says” said Cllr Rob Gledhill, Leader of the Council.
“If we look at the last year; Highways England ran a consultation about an additional crossing in Thurrock which was so flawed it should have been stopped completely, they continue to not engage with us in a timely manner when there are issues with the existing crossing that brings our borough to a standstill.
“And then this – to promise to do something for over a year and then cowardly send an e-mail to say they aren’t is despicable.
“We are committed to our promises of Clean It, Cut It and Fill It – but, this only extends to areas the council is in control of and I will not spend taxpayer’s money to clear roads where someone else is responsible – especially when they have already paid to have them cleared.
“We are putting our promises into action, we have already visited our responsible areas on the A13, twice, in week-long night time clean ups.
“Let’s be honest, we shouldn’t have to do any clear ups as road users should be keeping their rubbish in their car until they find a bin – simple! But, we are where we are and we don’t want to live in a dump, so we clear it.”
Portfolio Holder for Transport, Cllr Brian Little said: “The fact is, I’ve been copied into e-mails from residents and Highways England who has agreed closing the lay-bys was the best solution, we fully supported the arrangement but when the time actually came for action – they’ve backtracked.
“We will be writing to Highways England again to put our case formally forward – this needs to be reviewed urgently. I will also be writing to the Minister of State for Transport to ask them to look at this debacle personally.”
Residents like Tony Coughlin, Chair of Thurrock Park community group, are livid at the U-turn. He said: “I’ve been in contact with various people in Highways England for months. I’ve asked for the contact information of the decision makers so we can make the case, again, to close the lay-bys and I’m ignored.
Mr Coughlin,a Conservative candidate at the last local elections, said: “This is disgraceful. You expect better from such a large organisation, but it seems they are letting my community down on all fronts.
“I would like to thank Thurrock Council for supporting the wishes of local people, I appreciate their hands are tied, however their commitment in continuing to push and pressure Highways England to honour their promises is appreciated.”