Pavements not ponds please!

It is good to see contractors working on Preston Road addressing the issue of ‘ponding’ on the pavements. Their work should be completed this week.

One of the features of the Preston ward of North Shields that makes it so attractive is the historic character of many of its residential areas. Parts of Preston Village date back hundreds of years, and a large part of the south eastern corner of the ward has been designated a conservation area. The drawback is that much of the historic infrastructure is creaking under the strain of modern life.

Over decades pavements that were originally designed to allow rainwater to run away naturally have become crooked as the earth beneath has slowly shifted. Below ground the drains and sewers are getting overwhelmed, both by density of population and also by the changing weather patterns associated with climate change i.e. rainfall is now heavier and more sudden.

The current works are intended to deal with the two large ponds that appear frequently after wet weather, and can sit stagnant for days or even weeks, making passing very difficult for pedestrians. Once completed the work should restore the natural runoff of water into nearby gullies.

Of course this isn’t the only problem spot, far from it. That’s why, working with local residents around the ward, I have been identifying lots of other problem areas. Just on Saturday I was out with residents of Preston village, looking at what we might be able to do with the ponding problem where Walton Avenue becomes North Road, near the zebra crossing. I prepared and submitted a report about this yesterday.

Within my casework I have already identified several other problem areas, ranging in severity and complexity. I am sorry to say that I have found the process of getting attention and resources directed to these areas to be very slow. It seems that the main reason for the lack of action and repairs is simply the limited budget.

For now, my task as I see it, is to make sure that all the problem areas are clearly identified and reported, and to work relentlessly behind the scenes with officers of the council and its infrastructure partner Capita to get these jobs up the priority list.

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