Picture courtesy of Roland Ault
Parking on King’s Sutton’s grassy areas at any time is bad enough, but it’s even more stupid and irresponsible during the winter months when the ground is soaking wet and the damage caused by vehicles is even more severe. Unfortunately, people – not just visitors to the village – persist in doing it. Worse still, there seems to be little we can do about the issue.
King’s Sutton Parish Council has complained to Northamptonshire Highways about the damage caused to the village’s grass verges by inconsiderate drivers and various residents of houses close by grassy areas owned by South Northants Homes have complained about the same issue too. To be fair, South Northants Homes has asked offenders to desist and, for the most part, the level of damage caused by vehicles has declined in the areas under its control. As far as Northamptonshire Highways is concerned, however, there’s no money available to fix the problem so, like potholes and inadequate speed limits in the village, it’s going to stay unfixed.
Here’s what Helen Howard, a community liaison officer at Northamptonshire Highways, has to say in response to the parish council’s request for action:
“In short there is not a great deal we are able to suggest to solve the problem of verge parking. The solutions we used to offer such as lay-bys, etc are now a distant memory unless they can be completely funded from third party contributions. Parking on highway verges is not itself an offence, and drivers are allowed to do it despite the damage and obstruction it sometimes causes. This means that our options to deal with it are limited.
“Currently Northamptonshire County Council does not have the resources to deal with such a widespread issue. At this time of year when the ground is fully saturated, damage to highway verges is extremely common and we receive large numbers of complaints about the problem. Where there are safety implications such as deep ruts we may carry out repairs but this would only be in the form of top soiling and seeding. Where verges are continually damaged by drivers parking or driving over verges, we will not routinely and repeatedly attend.
“As highway authority we have a duty to maintain the public highway so that is safe and useable, however, we are not in a position to be able to commit resources to carrying out repairs simply for aesthetic reasons or even to facilitate parking. We also no longer use bollards to prevent parking on grass verges to prevent damage as they are deemed to be an illegal obstruction in the highway without an accompanying parking restriction.”
So there we have it. Nothing can be done. Or can it? Anyone have any ideas?