Friday, November 7, 2008


County Council's Community Gang confusion

Staffordshire County Council’s Highways Department have recently introduced “Community Gangs” – a group of workmen that would spend a few days in a Parish working on small highway tasks. At Tuesdays Church Eaton Parish Council meeting Mark Winnington - the County Councillor for the area - proudly announced that the gang would be Church Eaton Parish for the week beginning 10th November.

Unfortunately the Parish Council has not received any notification of the proposed start date before this announcement was made, so you can imagine the disquiet that rippled around the room. All the Councillors agreed that 6 days notice was not enough as they need to discuss and prioritise which jobs needed to be done. Somewhat deflated Mark agreed to go back to the Highways Department bosses to see if the gangs visit to Church Eaton Ward could not be put off to a later date.

This fiasco once again shows that the County Council are completely out of touch with the real world. OK they might be excited about the scheme, or they might need to get the money spent as soon as possible, but they have to realise that Parish Councils and local communities cannot be bounced into taking part and they deserve to have proper time to consider the scheme and plan what needs to be done. This is especially important given the fact that Mark pointed out that if the Parish Council could not identify what they wanted doing the workmen would soon find jobs that they felt needed their attention!

However Mark obviously took the message back to Highways House as the Parish Council has now received an e-mail to say that they should have received a letter a couple of weeks ago, but not to worry as the scheme had slipped and the gang would now not be in Church Eaton until 24th of the month!
One has to wonder how a scheme, which has only been running for a few weeks and also operates on a set timetable, can slip behind schedule? Does that mean an area that should have had the gang for five days might have got six days of work instead, or does it mean the County Council are incapable of organising even this simple task?

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