Readers will no doubt be aware of my recent posts here about the state of the roads locally. Of prime concern has been the flooding at Anchor Bridge in Brownhills, but also the condition of storm drains and potholes generally. To that end, I’ve been pressing Walsall Council for an answers.
So far, I’ve been largely unimpressed with the shambling, noncommittal answers. A few days ago, Walsall Council excelled themselves, and I’m beginning to wonder why I bother…
Last Wednesday, 27th June 2012, I finally received an answer to some of the questions I’d raised with Walsall Council’s press office previously. The email I received was sent by press officer Steve Sharma, who was also the chap fielded to deal with the whole recycling leaflet debacle, on which there will be more later in the week.
I bear Steve no ill will, and although I realise answering the tedious whinges of the local online community isn’t quite the career highlight he probably expected in training, I do at the very least expect the person answering my queries to be familiar with them, or at the very minimum have read the background. I know this stuff isn’t the much vaunted derring-do of the fearless and heroic press officer, but it is the day-to-day stuff that goes to form the overall impression of whether the organisation you’re dealing with actually gives a shit, frankly.
Here’s the email from Steve, in which I’ve interspersed my responses.
ENQUIRY from Bob – Brownhillsbob blog – logged on 18/06/12 13:35 – deadline – 18/06/12 00:00
1. What is the current situation with the Anchor Bridge drain that keeps blocking in Brownhills at Knaves Court? There was a statement to say that this was Severn Trent’s fault and the council would monitor. What’s the current situation as the pools are still there? Why can’t it just be fixed with the bill passed onto Severn Trent?
2. There are potholes around the High St / Chester Rd island from Ogley Rd to the mine to the Brownhills Miner island.
3. Drains have been blocked since a complaint was logged in January along the Ring Road. This is between the Littleton Street junction and Bridgeman Street, in moderately heavy rain they block and puddles form.
4. Only half the sewers in sandhills were unblocked when a vehicle visited last week. Can they be sorted? http://brownhillsbob.tumblr.com/post/21980066476/april-27th-prompted-by-what-i-dont-know-but
1-This has been established that the problem is in the public sewer and therefore STW. There is no provision to recharge STW.
I asked what the current situation was. We know you’ve passed the buck to Severn Trent Water, and both myself and the residents of Brownhills would have liked a response as to what Walsall Council were doing to enforce rectification of the problem. Since there’s anecdotal evidence of this problem going back long before the bollards at Knaves Court were erected, I’m highly sceptical that Walsall Council blaming them for the drain blockage is accurate. In a previous communication from Glyn Oliver, it was asserted that you were ‘monitoring’ the situation, and I asked for a contact at Severn Trent so myself and readers could chase this up. None of those points have been answered.
Restating what you already said does not help, and rather gives the impression that you think we’re a bit simple.
2 – The inspector will investigate the potholes
Thank you. Some of them – particularly on the Miner Island and at the top of Silver Street have been there so long they’ve developed their own weather systems. You can see a selection in the video below, and we have the new addition of the one above. You’d better send the inspector out with a rope and climbing gear, in case he falls into one.
3 – The location is incorrect. please report correct location.
I beg your pardon? The location of the blocked drains on the Ring Road is ‘incorrect’? Which part of this post from last January is in anyway inspecific? I include the helpful, print-out-and-hand-to-a-worker map again for you here:
Further to that aid-memoire, I also posted a video in the ‘Street Life’ post, which raised the topic again, in May. Short of employing a small army of readers to stand above each one firing off distress flares, I fail to see how I could be more precise.
4 – Sandhills gullies have been cleaned. There appears to be a problem with the public sewer which is STW. It has been reported to them.
No, no, no. When the gully cleaner came along, it cleared out the gullies it could. At the time, 40% were left full of silt, presumably because the cleaner couldn’t deal with them. Now over half of them are full to the grid with sand and road detritus. As I mentioned in my Tumblr post, it was better, but still needed the remainder returning to functionality. I can’t see how you can possibly diagnose a problem ith inter-gully culverts when the gullies themselves are full of sand and require hand digging.
Getting drains cleared in Walsall seems to be only marginally easier than getting blood from masonry. Routine cleaning seems to have gone by the wayside, and repeated requests seem to have to be made to get minimal action. What is it about this operation that’s so abhorrent to the contractors? When are the people responsible for these services going to realise that the huge quantities of surface water that result from bad storm drainage are a great hazard to cyclists, small cars and motorcyclists, and lead to premature failure of the road surface? Is someone going to have to get seriously hurt before this is taken seriously?
I sincerely hope not.
For further information please contact: Steve Sharma on 01922 650824
sharmasteve at walsall dot gov dot uk
If you’re having as much trouble with these responses as I am, please feel free to contact Steve using the details above. I’m absolutely astounded.