I’ve had a number of number of complaints today over temporary traffic lights on Corve Street. They are holding up traffic and the roadworks don’t even have a permit. Water company Severn Trent is responsible.

Shropshire Council gave Severn Trent a permit for work to be undertaken on the footway by the uphill bus stop at the top of Corve Street. I’m still checking details but I would be amazed if the council expected that work to begin at 10.30pm on a Thursday night. Nevertheless that is what happened.

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I am asking Severn Trent why it started these planned roadworks late at night. I’d also like the company to justify the reprehensible behaviour of its contractors, who are reported as shouting and yelling at the top of their voices as midnight approached.

Severn Trent must also explain why it dug up the road when it only had a permit to dig up the footway.

Severn Trent’s appalling behaviour doesn’t end here. Its contractors wrecked two perfectly good York slabs in the pavement. When Severn Trent was challenged on this, the company first claimed these were broken before the contractors arrived. They were not broken and I do not believe for one moment that the water company will continue to argue this point.

Faced with the task of replacing just two slabs, the water company has pleaded it has no York stone.

Severn Trent knew it was digging up expensive York slabs. If it had to break them, and in my view they could have been lifted out with ease, it should have had replacements on standby.

Severn Trent has wrecked the pavement slabs and has no capacity to repair the damage it caused. Shropshire Council has been left with no other option but to give permission for the pavement to be patched with tarmac. We are destined to get a black oily stripe amid light grey paving sprayed with the graffiti – “TEMP”.

Under the rules that govern these things, this ugly patch on one of the most historic streets in Ludlow could be in place for up to six months.

Shropshire Council’s highways team has worked hard today to find York slabs that it can sell on to Severn Trent. I am really grateful to officers for doing is. With luck it could mean we avoid six months of tarmac.

But I can’t help feeling that a cash-strapped council should not be diverting resources to patch up the mess made by a company that makes £269 million profit a year. It is not rocket science to dig up a pavement and reinstate it. But it appears that is too much for Severn Trent.

Update Saturday

The traffic lights were removed early this morning. There is a crude tarmac patch where there should be decent York stone. It has not been sprayed with the word “TEMP” as agreed with Shropshire Council on Friday. And the road and the pavement have not even been swept.

I don’t know to what extent Severn Trent can be fined for lousy work. I don’t know whether if it is fined, we can know the penalty. But those are the questions I will be asking first thing on Monday. I’ll also be asking Severn Trent why it can’t afford a broom. Its not rocket science to clear up after working on the high street and I rather hope that there is a legal obligation to do so.

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