Council's failure to act on public nuisance and dangerous road conditions
For several years, one particular area of Walk Lane in Irby upon Humber, North East Lincolnshire has been subjected to a weekly nuisance of repeated and significant deposits of mud, dirt and filth left by an occupier of land in pursuit of game birds and other activities associated with shooting and equine. The frequency of deposits intensify in the autumn and winter of each year at a time when road surface conditions become very wet. These deposits are never cleaned away by the offender and are more often than not subjected to further precipitation, frost or heavy dew that make the road surface more dangerous. During the past decade, Mr Webb has collated many images showing the appalling state of Walk Lane. The images below, which North East Lincolnshire Council are in receipt of, depict one particular instance on this public highway in the winter of 2008.
Unfortunately, Mr Webb, his family have to endure this unnecessary, excessive and dangerous accumulations of mud, dirt and filth deposited on the surface of Walk Lane whilst walking and driving their vehicles to and from their home. On several occasions whilst driving their vehicles, both Mr Webb and his family have precariously lost drive and traction due to their vehicles not been able to properly grip the surface of the road. On every occasion of each instance, there has never been any warning signs erected to inform highway users of the hazards associated with this mud, dirth and filth on Walk Lane. The images below show the dangerous condition of Mr Webb's familyís vehicles having passed through the public nuisance shown in the above images.
Had Mr Webb or members of his family continued to use these vehicles on a public highway in the condition shown in the images, we believe they would be liable to prosecution for endangering highway users. Many unnecessary hours are spent removing these deposits and cleaning the vehicles to make them road worthy, only to find their vehicles are in similar state again having just made one journey from their home.
This abhorrent matter also covers family pets after walks outside the family home and personal items become soiled and stained having been caught by splashing or by accidentally brushing against vehicles. More often than not, this mud, dirt and filth is also unintentionally taken inside the family home having fallen and dripped off vehicles onto the surface of driveways and garage floors (as seen in the above images) to the annoyance of the householder. Any reasonable person will understand that such matters cannot simply be overlooked.
Any individual using a public highway must do everything possible to prevent mud being deposited on that road. This includes cleaning mud from vehicles, as far as practicable, before they are taken onto a public highway. Sections 133 and 136 of the Highways Act 1980 state it is an offence to allow soil or refuse from land adjacent to a public highway to fall, be washed, or carried onto the road. Mud from vehicles and animals can be a potential hazard to other road users, and can be the cause of accidents. All reasonable steps must be taken to stop mud etc., from being deposited on the highway from a vehicle.
Section 149 of the Highways Act 1980 gives local authorities the power to clean the road and recover its expenses from an offender causing the obstruction through mud, dirt and filth. Conjunctively, Section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972 gives local authorities the right to institute civil proceedings in their own name to promote or protect the rights of the inhabitants of their area and prohibit a person from continuing to be a public nuisance.
Section 161 of the Highways Act 1980 states that if a person, without lawful authority or excuse, deposits anything whatsoever on a highway in consequence of which a user of the highway is injured or endangered, that person is guilty of an offence. Furthermore, the Road Traffic Act 1988 covers situations where a mechanically propelled vehicle is driven dangerously on a road. Driving dangerously can include driving a vehicle in a state that could cause danger to others. Section 6 of the Road Traffic Act 1991 also states a person is guilty of an offence if he intentionally and without lawful authority or reasonable excuse causes anything to be on or over a road in such circumstances that it would be obvious to a reasonable person that to do so would be dangerous. Consequently, occupiers of land have a duty not to obstruct the public highway or do anything that could inconvenience or endanger the public while they use the highway.
However, despite Mr Webbís justified complaints to North East Lincolnshire Council over the years the Council have acted unreasonably by refusing to act in accordance with the law and Council policy and procedure. Clearly, it is an absolute offence to deposit mud, dirt and filth on a public road. Unmistakably, the Council bestow the power to prevent recurrences, prosecute offenders and indeed recover the costs of cleaning any of part of a soiled public highway from an offender. Conversely, North East Lincolnshire have never exercised these powers in respect of Walk Lane.
The Councilís Highway Enforcement Policy and Procedure Manual states, "A complaint concerning mud on the road will be treated as a priority case and the case will be allocated a priority as described in Section C of this document. If resources are available an Officer will make a site visit on the day the complaint is taken. They will ascertain whom the person(s) or company is that is causing the mud on the road and contact them. They will be told that arrangements must be made immediately to clear the road of all debris." Within this document, the Council have clearly recognised their statutory duty under Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980.
In Misell v. Essex County Council (1994), Mr Misell had fallen off his motorcycle after skidding on mud on a country road. The mud was being brought onto the road on a regular basis by heavy lorries travelling to and from a quarry and landfill site fronting the public highway.
Although this was brought about by the occupier of the land causing mud to be brought onto the road through their activities, this did not excuse the Highway Authority from allowing the road to be in a dangerous state. The Highway Authority failed in their statutory duty under Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980, which required them to either clean the surface of the road regularly or take steps to make the occupier of the land stop the mud leaving the land or keep the road swept.
The Judge also determined that the Council had not erected any warning signs that specifically referred to the danger of skidding on mud. Had the Council done so, they might have been able to bring themselves within the special defence afforded to Highway Authorities under Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980.
In light of this particular judgment and the Council's Highway Enforcement Policy and Procedure Manual, it is quite odd that the Councilís Senior Enforcement Officer, Mark Mosley, has alleged on several occasions that he had contacted the offender and reminded them of their responsibilities in relation to maintenance of the highway after depositing mud on the road. As seen in the above images, these accumulations of mud, dirt and filth, we believe, are beyond the expectations of any reasonable person would anticipate being on the metalled surface of a public highway yet the recurrences continue and Mark Mosley does not take any further action in accordance with Council policy and procedures.
From a reasonable personís perspective, it is difficult to understand why certain North East Lincolnshire Council Officers, including Mark Mosley and indeed Rob Walsh, the Director of Law and Democratic Services, who no doubt advised the Council in these matters, are failing to fairly, properly and consistently exercise powers given to the Council. The Council could have simply contacted the offender and informed them to make arrangements to the clear of the public highway of mud, dirt and filth and issued a notice under Section 151 of the Highways Act 1980, to ensure the road is cleaned, made safe and preventative measures are put in place to make certain no future instances occur.
We believe both Mark Mosley and Rob Walsh have abused their positions to the detriment of Mr Webb, his family and indeed the council taxpayers of North East Lincolnshire. As discussed above, both Officers could have implemented the appropriate policy and procedures to overcome the repetitive nature of offences of mud, dirt and filth on Walk Lane over the past years but failed to do so.
However, they have both negligently used council taxpayers funds and resources for both internal and external communications, which undoubtedly did not serve any useful purpose whatsoever, and also incurred further waste of council taxpayers funds by cleaning roads as required by the Environmental Protection Act 1990, albeit several weeks later, when quite clearly these cleaning costs could have been passed to the offender for payment. Equally, both Officers also failed to take appropriate action to stop similar recurrences.
It is our belief this is further evidence of retribution by these particular Officers of the Council, particularly the Director of Law and Democratic Services whose responsibility is to ensure the Council does not transgress the law, who are unjustly victimising Mr Webb and his family for bringing other matters that are evident on this website to the attention of the wider public. Undeniably, their prejudicial and unethical demeanour towards Mr Webb and his family can only be described as a vendetta that may give rise to further maladministration and injustice in the future, which could possibly result in property damage or even the prospect of a serious or fatal injury.
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