Cllr Robin Parker and Cllr Graham Snell at the Mobbsbury Way junction

Cllr Robin Parker and Cllr Graham Snell at the Mobbsbury Way junction

The road widening works at the junction of Fairlands Way/Mobbsbury Way, apparently under the control of Hope and Clay, are still not finished, more than 2 years after they should have been completed. Local Chells county councillor and Manor borough councillor, Robin Parker, says that it is due to “contractor incompetence”.

Robin states: “The new light units are still not working, road markings and signage are still missing and some equipment has been left on the grass meaning that the borough council cannot cut it properly. I chase these issues up every other day or so but the contractor has comprehensively failed on the job, they are taking no notice of me and they are still saying that it will be 6 weeks before they can sort it. This is totally unacceptable and is down to contractor incompetence. The whole job should have been completed over 2 years ago, before the new Nobel School buildings were occupied.”

Robin explained: “As part of the planning conditions (under the Highways Act 1980, section 278) for the new Nobel School buildings, Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) stated that the school contractor had to improve the junction. The conditions state that the work has to be done before the new school buildings are occupied. That is 2 years ago now.”

“HCC made the mistake of leaving it to the developer to decide what sort of improvements. Myself and hundreds of local residents have been crying out for a roundabout there since 1989. They refused this, just as Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) did, prior to that, when SBC controlled highways in the town, until October 2002. Instead all the developer would do is to widen the junction, which may well be a waste of time and money, since many local residents do not believe that it will solve the congestion problems there.”

“Despite dozens of reminders from me, nobody at HCC or the contractors lifted a finger to get anything done until about 6 months ago, and now they have failed to finish already long overdue work.”

“Since there is no normal contract with HCC for the work (because it is a section 278 agreement) HCC, who are overseeing the work, have virtually no power over the contractor.”

“The only good news is that the works are not a direct cost to council taxpayers, since they are being paid for by the developer.”

In reply to Robin’s many chasers about the works, two of the replies are worth noting as follows:

On 16.5.2014:

The Contractor has confirmed that the installation of the illuminated bollards and signs is to be completed shortly. There has been a delay in the delivery of the lighting equipment, however these are anticipated for delivery next week to allow the works to be completed. The remaining works should not require any further road closures.

The works are being undertaken through a legal agreement in line with Section 278 of the Highways Act 1980 between the Developer (Hertfordshire Schools Building Partnership Ltd) and HCC. We will continue to monitor the site to ensure the works are completed to a satisfactory standard. If the Developer does not arrange for the works to be completed to a satisfactory standard the Section 278 agreement allows HCC to recover the cost of any remedial works from the Developer.

On 23.6.2014:

The contractor has informed me they have a problem with the supply of the lanterns for the new street lighting which means it could be another 5 to 6 weeks until these can be installed.

After inspecting the site last week I do not believe it is acceptable for the site to be left in its current state for another 6 weeks and I see no reason why the rest of the works cannot be completed now. Therefore I have requested the contractor undertakes a number of remedial works as soon as possible, including installing the illuminated bollards, replacing the yellow lines at the Raleigh Crescent junction, removal of the equipment left, and a general tidy-up of the site. The contractor is to provide me with a date when they will undertake these works.

I will not allow these works to remain in their current unfinished state. Hertfordshire County Council CFS (Children, Schools and Families Service) are ultimately responsible for these works since they were required as part of the planning conditions for Nobel School expansion. CFS agreed to underwrite any costs HCC Highways may accrue as a result of failure of the contractor to satisfactory complete these highway works. Therefore I have contacted the project manager appointed by CFS to oversee these works and requested they instruct Hope & Clay to complete the highway works as soon as possible.

Article published in the Comet