TDC refuse to repair Broadly Road
Thanet District Council have refused to remove dangerous rubble from the middle of a road widely used by school children travelling from and to Dane Valley. According to TDC Broadly Road is not their responsibility and so no action will be taken.
Broadly Road is an "unmade road" that connects Dane Valley with the A255. This means that the quality of the road is far below the usual standard of neglect for roads in Thanet being, in places, little more than a network of potholes. The use of this road, while not for everyone, reduces journey time significantly for journeys between. (see the map below). To most this public right of way is simply known as "the track".
Like a number of other roads Broadly Road is an anomaly of the change in the way we manage roads in the UK as it was never formally "adopted" and so it falls to the community to take care of the road. All the common laws of Kent's highways still apply (although getting more than about 10 MPH on some stretches is probably unlikely).
I am advised by a Mum who lives in Dane Valley that one or more schools state that Broadly Road is the recommended and/or the prefered route for Children and Parents getting to Dane Court School. However, it seems that someone has taken exception to the use of this road and taken matters into their own hand.
The road passes under the railway bridge (pictured) and this is where the problems have started. Someone has secured a large block in to the middle of the road and it has defied all attempts by locals to remove it.
The block is a large crudely shaped lump of mortar with an iron girder set into it. This girder has been driven into the tarmac so that it can not be moved.
It's placement under the bridge suggests a deliberate attempt to stop people driving along the road (as they are legally entitled to do). Quite why someone would want to do this remains as yet unknown but the effect of this blockade does not bode well for the children walking home from school.
The problem is that where an area seems to be treated badly others feel less inhibited for doing likewise. The result is once an area is damaged it can quickly and progressively get worse.
Parents are worried that as the road falls further into disrepair and usage is reduced vulnerable young people might be exposed to dangers that are unacceptable. The words "rape" and "murder" were used by a number of people in connection with phrases such as "how long until". Clearly locals are worried.
As the council have refused to act parents feel that they must find a solution themselves. However some of the ideas I have heard put forward are as alarming as the dangers of the state of the road under the bridge.
One group of teenagers suggested that they obtain Salt Peter, Charcoal and Sulphur (the key ingredients of gun powder) and attempt to detonate the block. Fortunately this idea has not been enacted and some parents while appearing to seriously considering the suggestion worried who might be held accountable if the bridge were damaged.
Another person suggested that cordite could be found along the beach and a conical charge might be used with reasonable safety to achieve the same ends.
Personally I hope this was just talk because it would only take some civic minded (if a little foolhardy) teenagers (or even adults) to attempt this and get it wrong for the story to become a tragedy.
More seriouse concerns seem to centre around the safety of children and the possibility of damage or fire should a car (especially a stolen one) be driven into the block.
I have been investigating and have learned that unadopted roads are generally the responsibility of whoever owns the land that touches them for the length (to the centre) of the road where the land touches it. Furthermore to get a council to adopt a road one needs to bring the entire road up to the "average" standard of roads in the area first.
There are some gaping gaps in my knowledge. For example I know that the bridge is railway property but what of the land under it? If the party with the duty to that part of the road can be identified can they be compelled to carry out repairs? Are the railway responsible for the space under their bridge?
Can alone tell me if a crime has been committed here or if this is simply an irritation that is perfectly legal?
What help and recourse is available to parents and other locals?
I know that has a fine tradition of beach combers, and experts on all subjects. If you have any advice or opinion to share on this subject please feel free to contribute. Anything you might know could help solve a difficult problem. For example: if you are able to contribute knowledge of practical methods of removal or even verify some of the theories and fears that have been expressed to me it all goes a long way towards understanding the problem and the practicality of any solutions.