Monday, 31 January 2011

Cardiff’s Unclaimed Roads

Hundreds of Cardiff residents are living on streets that the council are not obliged to maintain – despite paying the same rates of council tax.

Jim Mason, 76, of Radyr, was seriously injured last September when he tripped on the damaged pavement outside his home on De Clare Drive. He suffered a broken shoulder blade, a dislocated femur and needed surgery as a result. Now he can barely lift his right arm and suffers from long-term nerve damage in his shoulder.

Unsurfaced roads, unfinished pavements, and substandard drainage and lighting are just some of the problems associated with unadopted highways – roads that are not owned by the County Council.

Mason immediately contacted the contractor on site to request that the missing paving slab be replaced. Both development firms involved in the construction of the estate, Barratt Homes and Taylor Wimpey, deny responsibility for the pavement.

Mason’s enquiries were passed back and forth between the companies – and after two months, Taylor Wimpey has fixed the pavement.

A spokesperson for Taylor Wimpey South Wales commented: “Our first priority is the health and safety of our customers, employees and the public. We therefore repaired the damaged kerb-line to prevent any further incidents, even though it was not established which company was responsible for doing so. We are now investigating where the responsibility for maintaining this area of the development lies.”

“The road has been in the same state for three or four years,” said Mason. “When I fell I was in extreme agony. I didn’t realise it would be such a long and painful recovery. It’s just something I have to put up with now. I can’t use my right arm to do anything at all – I can only lift it up to my waist.”

A council spokesperson said: "Cardiff Council continues to maintain street lighting on unadopted roads and investigates drainage complaints of private sewers or drains to prevent health hazards and public nuisance by generally ensuring that blocked or defective drains and private sewers are in good working order."

But according to Roderick McKerlich, Councillor for Radyr and Morganstown Electoral Division, unadopted roads are a major problem in Cardiff. He said: “This issue causes endless problems. The one that is particularly current is that gritting and snow ploughing just doesn’t happen on these roads.

“I think Radyr is fairly typical of the whole of Cardiff. Any area that has had building work done in the last 15 years will not have escaped this problem. Radyr is not unique in that regard.

“The really distressing thing is that the problem is getting worse. Virtually no roads that are being constructed today are being adopted - so there’s a huge backlog developing.”

According to Jeremy Jones, Corporate Geographic Information System (GIS) Team Leader for Cardiff Council, there are approximately 92 kilometres of unadopted highways in Cardiff – accounting for 8% of all roads in Cardiff. Just under a third of these are pending adoption by the council.

The Highways Act 1980 states that when a developer constructs a road they are responsible for its maintenance until it is adopted by the council. If the developer cannot be found the residents become responsible – even though they pay full council tax.

The council can adopt a road when the developer has constructed it and installed street furniture to a certain standard, and once Welsh Water has adopted the drains underneath the road surface.

Welsh Water’s failure to adopt the drains is a major obstacle in the process according to Councillor Delme Bowen, Executive Member for Traffic and Transport. He said: “The council is waiting for action from Welsh Water on a number of cases, some of them longstanding estates. We cannot adopt roads where the sewers are not already adopted by Welsh Water - because we would be taking on the liability for the drains.”

But many drains are not up to the required standard for adoption by Welsh Water – and there is no legal requirement for them to be so.

“Developers can elect not to enter into the sewage adoption process or can start the process but not follow it through to conclusion. As a result, there are many roads in Cardiff with private sewers but as we are not responsible for these assets we are unaware of their full extent,” said a spokesperson for Welsh Water.

All Welsh Water customers are charged at the standard rate but if the surface water from your property drains to a private sewer and discharges to a watercourse and not a public sewer, you could be entitled to a partial rebate. Welsh Water advise you to contact their information line on 0800 085 3968 if you think this may apply to you.

The Government plans to introduce a new law in October 2011 that will address the problem of private sewer networks. The Private Sewer Transfer Bill will ensure all sewers and lateral drains which are already linked with public sewers transfer into the ownership of water and sewerage companies across England and Wales – for the Cardiff area this company is Welsh Water. Legislation that imposes mandatory build standards on new sewers and an obligation on developers to enter into complete sewer adoption agreements will also be introduced.

Published: The Echo, page 14, 23 December 2010; Wales Online, 13 December 2010

Glamorgan University gets interactive with Exposure Radio

Video killed the radio star then the internet reinvented the radio and the video stars and gave birth to podcast stars, the blogosphere, social media, content sharing, citizen journalism, and a whole lot more…

Next week Glamorgan University's 'Exposure Radio' launches and the work has already begun. Documentaries are being recorded and interviews put in the diary. There is an air of nerves and excitement as we hurry to get everything ready in time. Next Monday at 10am the big red 'on air' light will go on.

Run by students of various disciplines, we'll be working on every aspect of running the station - from presenting programmes to marketing and PR. The station is aimed young-ish adults and, in addition to the rock and indie playlisting, will broadcast documentaries on a diverse range of topics - from the Assembly referendum to a documentary following a day in the life of a Big Issue vendor.

Exposure Radio will be live streamed from the ATRiuM at and, as an MA Interactive Journalism student, my job will be to work on the website.

The internet has opened up a wealth of opportunities for the media and our challenge is to use this to the full. Radio, television and the written word no longer exist as separate entities – everything is now expected to be integrated and journalists must be able to work cross-media.

We'll be complementing the live radio stream with podcasts, videos, photo slideshows, live blogging, social networking… The possibilities are endless.

James Stewart, a senior lecturer in radio and journalism, said: "The project is designed to accurately reflect the way the media industry is going. Nowadays, if you work in the media there's an expectation for you to be multimedia-literate. Journalists have to be able to move between print, web and radio, as well as master social media. Radio producers have to be conscious of the web - how it enhances the listening experience and can be used to broaden its appeal. Interactivity is the name of the game."

MA Multi-Platform Radio students will be the senior producers for the radio station, overseeing the work of third year undergraduate radio students.

Ben James, Jordan Selig and Aimee Dewitt, all students on the MA Multi-Platform Radio course, are part of the senior production team for the station.

Ben, 22, from Cardiff completed a creative writing degree before starting his MA and is enjoying taking on such a challenging project: "It's daunting, definitely. I'm excited about it though, it'll be a lot of work but I appreciate that that's what it takes to get results. I'm really looking forward to doing a documentary piece on the upcoming Cardiff-Swansea football match."

Aimee, 27, from Swansea, plans to pursue a career in presenting after her course. She will be interviewing celebrities for the station, including tenor (and Go Compare advert star), Wynne Evans, and Wales football international, Ashley Williams. "We're learning skills like presenting and producing - but we're also gaining experience of management and taking responsibility for a major project," she said.

Jordan, 24, from Newcastle, studied law for his first degree. He said: "My undergraduate degree had a very theoretical focus. This is the polar opposite. It's as close as you can possibly get to the real world in a classroom."

The University's Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries hopes to pass on the lessons learned in this project to community radio stations around Wales, helping them to enhance the impact of their web presence.

Exposure Radio will be streamed live from the University's ATRiuM campus at The station will broadcast from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, from 24 January to 18 February. Follow @Exposure_Radio on Twitter.

Published: The Guardian (Cardiff), 20 January 2011