Amenities

The term Amenities relates to the management of the grounds and infrastructure outside the gates of our houses which are in public ownership. This land is managed by various departments of Kent County Council (KCC), Sevenoaks District Council (SDC), and in some cases Sevenoaks Town Council (STC). The responsibilities of managing and maintaining this public land and infrastructure encompasses the likes of roads, pavements, verges, signage, trees, hedges, lighting, leaves and organic and non-organic waste, water and foul drainage.

WHERA covers 370+ houses in the White Hart Estates area with a considerable land mass. Therefore there are a continuous number of amenities issues which are either dealt with by the above authorities – normally on a routine and scheduled basis – and some which are reported by individual householders, or Road Reps or the Amenities Committee Member.

The current process for reporting and resolving amenities issues is:-

  • The Amenities Committee member tours the WHERA area regularly, but in the main relies on local resident/Road Rep referral to become aware of problems/issues (eg. maintenance issues, surfacing, flooding, drainage, obstructions, pollution etc).
  • The Committee Member usually acts as a source of advice for the local Road rep to deal with the matter (eg salt bins).
  • If the problem affects the whole of the WHERA neighbourhood the Amenities Member coordinates action with the Road Reps to the relevant local authority department.

Over the last five years the majority of amenity issues have been identified and resolved by the individual Road Reps acting in conjunction with the householders concerned (eg. lighting, repair of grass verges, obstructive parking).

With a large area to cover it is clear that the local authorities will not cover everything in the local area – especially where budgets are tightening. It is vital that we exhort householders to remain vigilant in maintaining the standard of amenities in their immediate area and that Road Reps act as the “eyes and ears” for their local area.

Whilst we all like to think that our Council Tax covers everything to do with our public amenities from street lighting to clearing leaves and gritting the roads, the fact is that the District and County authorities are often only as good as the reporting based on the “eyes and ears” of the public. Therefore, as residents, we have a responsibility to report incidents or malfunctions/omissions in order that the relevant authority can deal with it. Local Authority cuts are not helping, so self help, in terms of using our eyes and ears, is sensible. Recurring issues are:-

 

  • Rubbish Collection – rubbish should be put out the morning of collection, not the night before unless the black sacks can be protected in a metal or plastic bin. Scavenging wildlife make a mess and the bin men will not clear it up. This is a householder responsibility.

  • Reporting of drains malfunctions/overflows – This tends to happen when there is heavy rainfall and/or a blockage and the surface water drains cannot cope. The surface water can then leak into the foul sewerage drain (but not vice versa we are assured!) and overflows occur. It is requested that residents report these incidents as soon as possible to Thames Water on 0800 316 9800.

  • Street lighting failures – These should be reported to KCC Highways by the nearest resident, giving location of the street lamp and its number which is printed on the lamppost for identification. You can phone KCC Highways on 0845 824 7800 but problems can also be reported to KCC on their website, www.kent.gov.uk. On their Home page there is a "Straight to" box which contains an entry "Report a problem" under "Roads and Travel". Clicking this entry leads to a reporting procedure for 5 faults including "Street light faults". An advantage of reporting on line is that we obtain a fault number which can be used to track progress on clearing the fault. Tracking can be accessed from the same page as reporting.

 

  •  Potholes - These should be reported in the same way as street lighting failures above. First of all measure the width and depth of the hole. The Council only repair potholes deeper than 50mm. On the potholes page under Report a Problem locate the fault on a map or give a nearby address. Complete fault details using position, width and depth. Uploading a picture appears to be optional.

 

  • Leaf clearing – Leaves on footpaths can be dangerous, particularly in autumn. Residents can call the leaf clearing team at KCC Highways at any time (tel: 01959 567364). The response to date has usually been quite prompt.

  • Verges - We are privileged with a grass verge belonging to and maintained by the Council running outside most of the houses in our area. This is a defining characteristic of the area as described in an SDC survey in 2012 and now adopted as part of a Supplementary Planning Document. The relevant web page is accessible here.  To lose any of this in fact, or in appearance, reduces our status and makes us the poorer. It would be very much appreciated if a few residents would prevent their hedges encroaching on this valuable asset which actually belongs to the Council. The Council do get the grass cut on a schedule but cannot afford to do more. The efforts of those residents who help to maintain the verge outside their properties by trimming, weeding and occasionally cutting it is much appreciated.

  • Parking on the road – on many occasions it is not necessary to park on the road as most houses have adequate drives in which to house vehicles. A clear road makes for a safer road.

  • Road representatives can be contacted for assistance with serious or recurring incidents, but residents can do much to address issues which arise in our area.
Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch Description

Amenities

Amenities description

Road Representative

Road Representatives

Road Representatives Description