Mr Perrin’s blog: Grass verges and vehicles on pavements

Mr Perrin’s blog: A Word in Your Ear

THE Editors of “Your Thurrock” “NUB News” and “Thurrock Gazette are probably well aware that I have, often raised the issue of the parking of cars and other vehicles on pavements and grass verges.

This is a blog I wrote some 18 months 2 years ago:-

Mud, mud, inglorious mud, there’s nothing quite like it for boiling my blood.

The cause of my anger is the vandalisation of grass verges, and other grassed areas, as a result of inconsiderate drivers parking their vehicles on them.

Over the years I have repeatedly asked the Council to protect grassed areas by means of barriers. I have suggested that drivers who, despite previous warnings, repeatedly offend should have their vehicle removed from the grassed area, “clamped and charged to have the clamp removed.

I accept that adequate and safe parking facilities should be provided, but not at the exclusion of grassed areas. These areas cannot be both grassed areas and car parking areas, if this is allowed what you end up with is an unsightly patch of mud.

I get the impression that the adequacy of the protection of grass verges depends on where you live e.g. Brandon Groves, a private estate, or Broxburn Drive, a Council estate. You only have to visit these estates to see the difference.

Council tenants money is of equal value to that of a home owner and entitles them to the same standards of Council services. In the opinion of some Council Officers and members of the public ,Council tenants are third class citizens, do not care about the environment in which they live, and are happiest living like pigs in a sty.

As a Council tenant myself I can only say to those misguided Council Officers and members of the public, “If you prick us we bleed just the same as you”.

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At meetings of Full Council I have asked the following questions:-

My question for the meeting of Full Council scheduled for Wednesday 23 October 2019.

Would the Council consider outlawing the practice of parking motor vehicles on pavements?

I ask the question because some pavements in Thurrock have become “obstacle courses” and in some cases downright dangerous.

Pavements are now used by some as parking areas for their cars, vans etc. Others use the pavements as permanent parking for their waste bins, some of which are over filled and the rubbish spills onto the pavement, and the dumping of large items such as fridges, washing machines and vacuum cleaners.

Such conduct can be dangerous when vehicles are parked on bends thereby obstructing pedestrians and other drivers view of approaching traffic.

So will the Council ensure pavements are safe, free of obstacles and are for the exclusive use of pedestrians?

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My question for the meeting of Full Council scheduled for Wednesday 28 February 2020.

I congratulate the Council on being named “Team of the Year” at the “Keep Britain Tidy” Awards 2020. However, at risk of raining on the Council’s parade, would you agree that there are some areas of the Borough where there is an urgent need for improvement to the environment, especially with regard to the Council’s policy for a “Cleaner, Greener Thurrock”?

Protection of the environment is not just about fly-tipping and littering, important though those issues are.

The Council should be equally concerned about preserving grass verges and green spaces.

Drivers of motor vehicles park on unprotected grass verges and green spaces simply because they can.

Such behaviour is every bit as anti-social as fly-tipping or littering, I would go so far as to say it is vandalism

If the Council is seriously committed to keeping Thurrock cleaner and greener will it protect all grass verges and green spaces and clamp down on offenders?

I am assuming most Councillors and Council Officers own or drive a motor vehicle, so I feel I am rolling a very large boulder up a very steep hill and I fear it is likely to roll back and crush me.

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It was with a degree of incredulity, though I was not surprised, to read the story of “Enforcement Officers” imposing a £150 fine on an elderly man who dropped a cigarette end in a public area.

Thurrock Council’s Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee recently voted to recommend to Cabinet that the Council goes out to tender on the option of a new 4 year contract with a private enforcement Company, paid by results and the number of fines issued.

John Kent, leader of the Labour Group, was the only member of the Committee to vote against the proposal saying he believed having a system whereby a Company earns money from issuing tickets/fines, rather than preventing the offence in the first place is the wrong policy. Cllr Kent went on to say that if you institute a system where you reward enforcement officers on the basis of the number of tickets/fines they issue, what you get is enforcement officers going after the “low hanging fruit” i.e easy pickings, rather than going after the higher up fruit i.e. the more difficult pickings.

In contrast there have been cases where the Council has been less than robust when dealing with Corporate environmental misdemeanours. The environmental damage done by these Corporate acts of vandalism far exceeds the damage caused by a dropped cigarette butt. The Council decides to take no action against the Companies concerned.

Could it be that somebody is being “rewarded” for turning a blind-eye to Corporate vandalism?

I do not understand why it is necessary to have two systems of “enforcement”, one provided by the Council “in house” the other by means of a contract with a “private” Company.

I agree with Cllr John Kent’s argument in favour of an “in house” policy. He says he is disappointed that the case that has been made for “in house” is weak and doesn’t talk about the positives. Positives in terms of having more flexibility because you directly employ the staff, in terms of a better deal for those employed who will have a greater allegiance to the place {Thurrock) and the people they work for. It also gives us (the Council) the possibility of softening the approach a little.

Having watched and listened to the meeting I got the impression that members, with the exception of John Kent, voted in favour of a private contract not because they considered it the best option but simply because they knew that was the outcome the Conservative administration wanted.

Regarding my questions to Council mentioned above. I am informed by my local Ward Councillor that it is an offence to park on grass verges or other green spaces, leave your wheely bins on pavements, other than on the day they are emptied by the Council, and dump rubbish, such as discarded furniture, on the pavement.

Enforcement officers, contracted or Council employees, would be better employed if they pursued these rule breaking litter louts with the same robustness they pursued the pensioner who dropped a cigarette butt in Aveley High Street.

Conservative Councillors never miss an opportunity to tell us how “green and clean” Thurrock is under their administration. I believe they are selective regarding areas of the Borough that are kept clean and green. For example the Brandon Groves estate is kept a lot cleaner and greener than Council estates such as Broxburn Drive.

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