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Journey by Journey => London to Reading => Topic started by: TaplowGreen on July 30, 2021, 04:26:00 pm



Title: Rampant vegetation
Post by: TaplowGreen on July 30, 2021, 04:26:00 pm
Out for a walk today and headed down the Approach Road in Taplow (where you find Taplow Station, and it runs alongside the line down to the A4)

The vegetation on railway land next to the road is now so overgrown that it's impossible to walk on the pavement in places without doing battle with stinging nettles, brambles, thorns etc and it's necessary to walk in the road.

Does anyone amongst the learned folk on this forum have the contact details of the person responsible for this type of maintenance at Network Rail?


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: CyclingSid on July 30, 2021, 05:32:34 pm
The fact you say pavement suggests that they probably think it is a Local Authority responsibility.

Mind you if you hedge grows and obstructs the pavement the Local Authority can do the job and charge the property owner. Which might concentrate minds.


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: johnneyw on July 30, 2021, 06:15:23 pm
If it's close enough to the station, it might come under the responsibilities of the designated station manager.  I thought their names, mugshots and contact details were on information boards at the stations.


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: ellendune on July 31, 2021, 09:19:57 am
The fact you say pavement suggests that they probably think it is a Local Authority responsibility.

Mind you if you hedge grows and obstructs the pavement the Local Authority can do the job and charge the property owner. Which might concentrate minds.

Section 154 of the Highways Act 1980 (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/66/section/154) applies. Local Highway Authority must first serve notice on the owner to get them to remove the obstruction within 14 days.  Only then can they take action in default. 


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: Bob_Blakey on July 31, 2021, 10:52:54 am
I suspect that it is the 'competent' LA (Local Authority) that bears responsibility for these issues. In and around Exeter foot- and cycleways regularly become overgrown in the late spring / early summer, in some cases being rendered unusable unless full body clothing is worn e.g. until recently the shared foot/cycleways across Matford Marshes and on the northern approach to Dawlish Warren.

In addition the contractors frequently take a strimmer to the first few inches of the vegetation overgrowth and ignore everything above that which isn't a lot of use to those of us who prefer to walk or cycle in a vaguely upright position.

When highlighting these issues via my City or County Councillor I have been told in the past that legislation prevents vegetation clearance until a specified date to avoid disturbing nesting birds. Unfortunately the LA's seem to have been given a fixed date ignoring accelerated vegetation growth produced by favourable weather conditions.


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: stuving on July 31, 2021, 01:26:14 pm
This was in Taplow Parish Council (https://www.taplowpc.org.uk/)'s  Minutes from June last year (https://taplowpc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/TPCJune20Minutes.pdf):
Quote
57.4 Janet Appleton asked who was responsible for the state of the pavement in Approach Road as the brambles in particular were overwhelming the pavement. Cllr. Sandy said that the pavement was the responsibility of Bucks Council (BC) but the overgrowing vegetation was the responsibility of Network Rail. BC had procedures to enforce and he would refer the issue to them if she would provide photographs to him via the Clerk.

Their next meeting is shown as ... September.

I guess it's also possible that the station lease transfers this responsibility to the operator, currently TfL, or that there is a boundary somewhere along the road between them and NR.


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: stuving on July 31, 2021, 02:52:08 pm
There was a follow-up item at TPC's next meeting in July 2020, which confuses the issue a little:
Quote
69.2 Cllr. Sandy noted that a response had been received from Bucks Council (BC) about Approach Road. They would be cutting back vegetation shortly but the issues raised regarding the uneven footway surface were a matter for Transport for Bucks rather than a project within the remit of the new Community Board.

The last meeting was 6th July this year; the minutes are not yet on-line.


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: Hal on July 31, 2021, 03:42:32 pm
You could try FixMyStreet.com, which sometimes brings problems to the front of the queue.


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: stuving on July 31, 2021, 04:14:37 pm
You could try FixMyStreet.com, which sometimes brings problems to the front of the queue.

Someone reported it there last Sunday (presumably not TG). Do they weigh multiple reports?


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: TaplowGreen on July 31, 2021, 04:15:54 pm
My understanding from another Coffeeshop member is that Network Rail have been approached by a local passenger association and a response is awaited.

We know NR have form for this given the endless "Leaves on the line" fiascos when trees/vegetation have been allowed to grow out of control without being maintained. They simply don't prioritise it.

Here's a picture of what local people have to put up with - it's easy to see that the weeds/nettles/brambles etc are on railway land and have been allowed to grow uncontrolled through and over the railings.


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: BBM on July 31, 2021, 09:08:02 pm
The Reading Chronicle has an article about overgrown verges in Wokingham Borough:

https://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/news/19481240.cutters-finally-swing-action-cut-overgrown-bushes/ (https://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/news/19481240.cutters-finally-swing-action-cut-overgrown-bushes/)

It's of relevance here as one of the photos shows Waingels Road alongside the GWML at Twyford West (see attached photo). In this case it does seem to be the council's responsibility to keep the growth under control.



Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: Birdie100 on August 01, 2021, 08:18:39 am
I haven’t any photos but Waingels Road is now clear again. I logged a ticket with the helpful Network Rail community team and within a week they’ve all been cut back. It was particularly annoying trying to push my daughters pushchair along that stretch - both because we had to go into the road and also because the foliage impeded the view of the IETs zipping past!


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: TaplowGreen on August 01, 2021, 09:16:17 am
I haven’t any photos but Waingels Road is now clear again. I logged a ticket with the helpful Network Rail community team and within a week they’ve all been cut back. It was particularly annoying trying to push my daughters pushchair along that stretch - both because we had to go into the road and also because the foliage impeded the view of the IETs zipping past!

That's encouraging - I have done the same in respect of Approach road in Taplow and included photos, fingers crossed for the same outcome!


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: stuving on August 01, 2021, 11:25:29 am
The legal duty to cut back plants that encroach on a highway (including its footpath) lies with the owner or occupier of the land, as most of us with front gardens will know. I'm not sure if there's a statute saying that any more, but The Highways Act 1980 gives local authorities the power to enforce that. So the answer to "who should do it" and "where should I complain" don't have to be the same. Plus, of course, others can pass on such complaints. This is the main bit of that law (there must be other bits elsewhere defining such things as visibility splays, clear height to overhanging trees, etc).

Highways Act 1980 (1980 Chapter 66) Section 154: (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/66/section/154)
Quote
154 Cutting or felling etc. trees etc. that overhang or are a danger to roads or footpaths.

(1)Where a hedge, tree or shrub overhangs a highway or any other road or footpath to which the public has access so as to endanger or obstruct the passage of vehicles or pedestrians, or obstructs or interferes with the view of drivers of vehicles or the light from a public lamp, or overhangs a highway so as to endanger or obstruct the passage of horse-riders, a competent authority may, by notice either to the owner of the hedge, tree or shrub or to the occupier of the land on which it is growing, require him within 14 days from the date of service of the notice so to lop or cut it as to remove the cause of the danger, obstruction or interference.

For the purposes of this section the following are competent authorities—

(a)in relation to a highway for which the Minister[F2or a strategic highways company] is the highway authority and which is in a district or London borough, the highway authority and also the council of the district or, as the case may be, borough;

(b)in relation to a highway for which a local highway authority are the highway authority, that authority and also , if the highway is situated in a non-metropolitan district, the council of that district;

(c)in relation to a road or footpath that is not a highway, the local authority in whose area the road or footpath is situated;

and “hedge, tree or shrub” includes vegetation of any description.

(1A)In subsection (1)(a) above, any reference to a district includes a reference to a Welsh county or county borough.

(2)Where it appears to a competent authority for any highway, or for any other road or footpath to which the public has access—

(a)that any hedge, tree or shrub is dead, diseased, damaged or insecurely rooted, and

(b)that by reason of its condition it, or part of it, is likely to cause danger by falling on the highway, road or footpath,

the authority may, by notice either to the owner of the hedge, tree or shrub or to the occupier of the land on which it is situated, require him within 14 days from the date of service of the notice so to cut or fell it as to remove the likelihood of danger.

(3)A person aggrieved by a requirement under subsection (1) or (2) above may appeal to a magistrates’ court.

(4)Subject to any order made on appeal, if a person on whom a notice is served under subsection (1) or (2) above fails to comply with it within the period specified in those subsections, the authority who served the notice may carry out the work required by the notice and recover the expenses reasonably incurred by them in so doing from the person in default.


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: TaplowGreen on August 06, 2021, 09:43:20 am
I've had an acknowledgement from NR confirming that they will be visiting the area to assess how much work is required to cut back the vegetation and make the area safer.



Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: stuving on August 06, 2021, 10:42:50 am
I guess a lot of places had the same surge in growth in May/June that has led to "grassgate" in Wokingham (if you believe the local paper). The boss of the contractors has been apologising and explaining that they were caught out by the timing, and had trouble recruiting enough staff. But the quote that the press picked on to make his life just that extra bit more miserable was "we've seen an unprecedented grass growth rate - around 60% more aggressive than last year".

So it's been agressive grass here. I guess the word might be more apt for the brambles and nettles or even buddleias (plus the odd resting triffid) that NR have been propagating.


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: TaplowGreen on August 07, 2021, 09:10:55 am
I've had an acknowledgement from NR confirming that they will be visiting the area to assess how much work is required to cut back the vegetation and make the area safer.



NR phoned me late yesterday afternoon - they hope to have all the overgrown vegetation on Approach Road cleared by close of play on Tuesday.




Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: NickB on August 07, 2021, 09:41:00 am
Amazing! And there was me thinking that they’d sit on it until Autumn and come and cut it back when it’s dead. Perhaps my cynicism needs reappraising.  :D


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: TaplowGreen on August 07, 2021, 12:24:56 pm
Amazing! And there was me thinking that they’d sit on it until Autumn and come and cut it back when it’s dead. Perhaps my cynicism needs reappraising.  :D

It's getting so bad now that I think they have to act quickly because it's becoming a safety issue.

It's now impossible to walk on the pavement on a large part of Approach road due to knee high nettles & brambles at head/eye height.....my own dainty leg was stung by a nettle yesterday (I am expected to survive)

Suspect they'll hack it back for now and perhaps address the root cause* in the Autumn.

* can you see what I did there?  :)


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: grahame on August 07, 2021, 01:00:56 pm
Amazing! And there was me thinking that they’d sit on it until Autumn and come and cut it back when it’s dead. Perhaps my cynicism needs reappraising.  :D

It's getting so bad now that I think they have to act quickly because it's becoming a safety issue.

Sitting in nettles and brambles - especially for several months - would not be comfortable!


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: TaplowGreen on August 07, 2021, 04:41:41 pm
Amazing! And there was me thinking that they’d sit on it until Autumn and come and cut it back when it’s dead. Perhaps my cynicism needs reappraising.  :D

It's getting so bad now that I think they have to act quickly because it's becoming a safety issue.

Sitting in nettles and brambles - especially for several months - would not be comfortable!

Judging by the rustling noises from said undergrowth, you wouldn't be short of company.


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: CyclingSid on August 10, 2021, 10:05:25 am
Before you do it yourself
https://road.cc/content/news/legal-action-threat-vs-councillor-who-cut-down-vegetation-285523 (https://road.cc/content/news/legal-action-threat-vs-councillor-who-cut-down-vegetation-285523)
Nothing like encouraging community spirit


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: stuving on August 10, 2021, 10:43:05 am
Before you do it yourself
https://road.cc/content/news/legal-action-threat-vs-councillor-who-cut-down-vegetation-285523 (https://road.cc/content/news/legal-action-threat-vs-councillor-who-cut-down-vegetation-285523)
Nothing like encouraging community spirit

I fear m'learned friend has gone a little over the top there. Having noted, no doubt correctly, that elected council members are neither required nor expected to clear obstructing vegetation from the highway (since footpaths and cycle paths are part of the highway), he has jumped directly to assuming it is therefore unlawful. Other views on that matter are available, such as this from Cycling UK (https://www.cyclinguk.org/article/campaigns-guide/reporting-obstructions-england-and-wales):
Quote
Taking matters into your own hands

    You are entitled to take reasonable steps to remove an obstacle in your way.

    It would probably be reasonable to cut back overhanging vegetation with secateurs, or to break a lock on a locked gate, but it would not be reasonable to take away an unlocked gate, as opening it would sufficiently clear the path to allow you to pass. A highway user can only remove as much of the obstruction “as is necessary to exercise his right of passing along the highway”.

    Removing too much, for instance by cutting back too much vegetation, is a statutory offence under section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1970, and the owner would be permitted to sue for damages.

    Obstructions that cannot be dealt with at the time should be reported, either to the landowner or to the local highway authority.

    You may also have a right to divert around the obstruction on the nearest accessible safe route.

A friendly reminder that a councillor acting independently may (though I suspect not always) not have any protection or indemnisation from the council, or their insurers, would have been more appropriate.

And isn't his job title - "Director - Democracy, Planning and Public Protection" - nicely Orwellian?


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: Witham Bobby on August 10, 2021, 11:09:47 am
A friendly reminder that a councillor acting independently may (though I suspect not always) not have any protection or indemnisation from the council, or their insurers, would have been more appropriate.

And isn't his job title - "Director - Democracy, Planning and Public Protection" - nicely Orwellian?

The longer and more incomprehensible the job title, the less easy it is to penetrate what the job actually is.  Refuge for some at the top of big organisations. 


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: eightonedee on August 10, 2021, 11:26:22 am
Quote
And isn't his job title - "Director - Democracy, Planning and Public Protection" - nicely Orwellian?

I think it means Town Clerk!  Ironically the type of job title that fell out of use because it has connotations of pettifogging bureaucracy, and of course in the modern world there's more to do so jobs have to be split - no doubt there's also a Director of Inclusivity, Sustainability, Risk and Accountability to help too  :)


Title: Re: Rampant vegetation
Post by: TaplowGreen on August 11, 2021, 01:56:18 pm
I've had an acknowledgement from NR confirming that they will be visiting the area to assess how much work is required to cut back the vegetation and make the area safer.



NR phoned me late yesterday afternoon - they hope to have all the overgrown vegetation on Approach Road cleared by close of play on Tuesday.




I'm pleased to report that the overgrown vegetation  has been cleared & it's now possible to walk safely along the length of Approach Road on the pavement.

Well done NR for acting swiftly & keeping your promises.



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