The Local Highways panel for Rochford met on the 25 June and included in the Agenda was a report on the cycle-path along the Hullbridge Road which came to a sudden halt in May before it had reached its planned end at Ferndale Road.
Residents (including myself) had been told by the people working on the scheme that they had been told to stop because they had run out of money. I reported this back to Officers and the Cabinet members during a meeting in June to be told, “no we have taken the opportunity to stop the work and evaluate how much money we have spent and how much we need to finish the scheme”. As it turns out the cost to the point where the path stopped had used up all of the budget.
It appears that the main problems were much more severe slippage of the existing footpath into the stream than realised which needed extensive piling and foundations to keep the new cycle-path. In addition there were a number of unrecorded power cables which meant they had to do a lot of digging by hand due to the danger of the power digger tearing up live cables.
My big issue with this (and to be fair the other Panel members also) is the complete failure of Essex Highways and Ringway Jacobs to report anything at all back to either the Panel itself or even the Chairman. I had raised this cycle-path in the March meeting of the Panel as it was clear to me that it would not be completed on time, only to be told the officers had no information on it. When the scheme stopped it was not reported back to the panel until I advised the Chairman of the Panel who was as angry as I have ever seen him over this farce. This lack of communications and poor working comes from a team (Essex Highways and Ringway Jacobs) who have just won an award for partnership working!
Two member of the Panel, myself and Cllr Hudson, took the lead Officer and also the Deputy Cabinet Member Cllr Ray Howard to visit the site and they at once understood the problem and we have agreed that a full survey will be undertaken to include costs for the piling of the stream to prevent slippage into it, as the narrow path from where the original work stopped to opposite the entrance to Lubbards Farm will widened.
The outcome of the Local Highways Panel was a decision to agree to fund the continuation of the cycle-path to its end at Ferndale Road. At present the cycle-path has stopped after only 1,014 metres but was due to extend for 1,675 metres. with the first 1,3675 metres being a new and wider path.
We do not have a date yet for when the work will start but I will keep people posted via Facebook.