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I'm not sure if this is a suitable question for this forum, as it is about a County Council matter, but perhaps someone knows the answer!  I'd be really grateful for any insights!

I'd like to ask my County Council about maintenance work that's been done on the council storm drain that runs along the road outside my house.  There have been flooding issues in the past, and I'd like to know how consistently they have checked the state of the drain, or done repairs or clearances.  I suspect the work will have been contracted out.  Do I have a right to know what work has been done, and would I be entitled to ask for details (from the contractor if necessary) via a FOI?  Do councils generally keep these records?

Many thanks!
by (200 points)

1 Answer

0 votes
Yes of course you can and should if you want the information. Depending on your council's website most of this information can usually be accessed online with contact information for the department concerned ( though response may not be as quickly as you would wish). Whether the works are sub-contracted is immaterial the council will have overall control as it is their responsibility. FOI is longwinded and usually not needed with some investigation.
by (26.5k points)
Hi Mentorman - thanks very much, that's useful!  I will pursue.
If you have a PC this is really something they should be interested in as it can affect residents. Most PCs have a Highways officer allocated to their area and he would be the first port of call, I managed to track down a map of gullies which is hopelessly out of date http://map.n-somerset.gov.uk/gullymapping.html.   Basically gully clearance is under resourced and seemingly way down the pecking order.  It once took me three years to get some gullies unblocked.
Whilst the PC cannot take responsibility for road and drain repairs it is unfortunately one of the things that most of their communities expect that they can. Unfortunately the only thing the PC can usually do is make a nuisance with the Area Council and constantly remind them of the STATUTARY duty of repair ( which does not include the defence of "SORRY NO MONEY" for non-compliance) that they have. It would be interesting to have a case of a PC taking the main council to court over the failure of that duty rather than just accepting excuse after excuse. I wonder if council tax payers could use the same excuse of "no money" to not meet their STATUTARY tax duty?
Thank you for the helpful replies, and sorry for my slow response.  The situation is that the County Council cut down two lovely street trees, with no prior consultation, later telling the residents that it was because the roots had got into the storm drain and caused flooding in a different part of the neighbourhood.   Through a FOI I asked how often the drain had been root-cut/cleared before the trees were removed, and they replied that they didn't have those records available.  This just seems odd.  It turns out that it was the PC who had asked for the trees to be removed, and they are firmly against having them replaced.
The county council are of course in charge of the trees as specified by yourself and will prune or cut them down on the grounds of safety etc. as they see fit based on evidence. It seems that that evidence has not been forthcoming via your FOI perhaps rephrasing it might help like asking for a copy of the risk assessment carried out by the council which led to the conclusion that they should be removed. Any request by your PC on the trees removal again should be a matter of minuted record of the council and available on request from them. Of course the PC had they made the request of the county council would have had to also produce their own risk assessment to support such a request.
Ah thank you - that's interesting.  So would the CC have been obliged to do a formal risk assessment, before cutting them down?  A highway officer told me in an email that they'd had to 'keep clearing the drain' and it was 'becoming too expensive', but I have no recollection of that work being done - which is why I asked for details via the FOI.  It seems heavy-handed to cut down healthy trees, especially with no clear evidence that the roots had become a major issue.

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