Facts & FAQs

AUGUST 2015 – Following our FACT SHEET AND FAQS we have quoted information from a HOUSE OF COMMONS LIBRARY parliamentary briefing paper specifying owners’ responsibility in law regarding unadopted roads.

Egerton Park Residents Ltd.     Company No: 5577955

 Fact Sheet and FAQs

Background

The Egerton Park estate is of Victorian origin and was laid out in 1858.   It has been an unadopted road since that time but when the road was laid out certain restrictive and positive covenants were in force, including that each property owner should pay a proportion of the cost of maintaining the road surface.   This was effectively a ‘service charge’ designed to ensure that the road remained fit for purpose.   The estate has grown over the years with the additions of Roselands Court, Egerton Gardens, Egerton Park Close and Delyn Close.   However there is no access to any of these cul-de-sacs without travelling along the main Egerton Park road.

Legal status

All the roads in Egerton Park are unadopted by the local authority which has no responsibility for their upkeep.   However, they are not ‘private roads’ because they have been used by the public freely since at least 1974, and have therefore been considered to have been given to the public by ‘dedication and acceptance’ within the meaning of the Highways Act 1835.   There is clearly an element of legal unfairness involved given that the public can use the roads in Egerton Park but have no responsibility to maintain them through their council taxes.   Legal responsibility for the maintenance of the road therefore rests with residents.   However, the positive and restrictive covenants originally laid down by the Victorians have not been enforced on property owners in recent years, although arguably they could be enforced via the County Court if necessary.

Who are we?

We are a limited company that was established by residents in Egerton Park in 2005 to take over from the previous residents’ association called the Egerton Park Property Owners Association.   That association dated back to at least 1913.   However, by 2005 the association had not been active for 11 years and Egerton Park had gradually declined.   There was a special meeting of all residents called in 2005 and all homes were leafleted and invited to attend.   A committee was elected and a constitution drawn up at that time.   All committee members live in Egerton Park and are volunteers with no financial benefit from the association.   We stand for election a minimum of every 3 years but hold an AGM every year, at which we propose a plan for the following year and seek endorsement through a show of hands.   On average at least 30 households are represented at these AGM meetings.

Why do we exist?

In 2005 it was realised that the park’s infrastructure and road surface was decaying.   The entrance pillars had been broken, there was graffiti and litter, the traffic islands at the front and rear entrances had crumbled and, most importantly, the road surface had become almost impossible to drive, walk or cycle on safely.   Egerton Park was an area that no one, including the council, seemed to care about.   The catalyst to re-establish the residents’ association and form a committee came when a developer tried to demolish 2 Victorian semi-detached houses and build 22 flats, with the potential for vastly increased traffic and further road damage.   That planning application was opposed by the residents’ association and refused by the council.   Later that year we successfully applied to the Land Registry to take legal ownership of, and register title to, the entrance pillars to the park.

What do we do and how do we do it?

Our main activity is to raise and collect funds to repair the hundreds of potholes which appear every year and which cause major inconvenience to cars, pedestrians, residents and visitors.   At the AGM in 2006 it was agreed that the maintenance fees would be a minimum of £5.00 per household per month or £60.00 per year.   We keep a database of all paying and non-paying households and we send reminder letters, and in some cases warning letters, to non-paying households.   The majority of houses pay with no problems via a simple standing order and several households pay more than the minimum although, over the years, it has been difficult to encourage householders who have never paid that they should.   All the residential or nursing homes in the park pay £12.00 per month in acknowledgement of the increased traffic their businesses generate.   We also sometimes win small grants of money which we add to the road maintenance fund.

As well as 3 newsletters a year, we produce both a chair’s report and a treasurer’s report before the May/June AGM; these are all hand delivered to every home.   We have a website http://www.egertonpark.wordpress.com and an email address egerton_parkch42@yahoo.co.uk   We regularly email residents with news, local crime reports and/or any other issues of interest or concern to our neighbours.

What are our terms of reference?

To safeguard and protect the amenities of Egerton Park for its residents.

Why have I never heard of you before?

We don’t know!   We hand deliver newsletters and the AGM reports to every household 4 times per year.   It could be that you rent your property out and that your tenant does not pass correspondence to you.   If you are new to Egerton Park, and we know about you, we also deliver a ‘welcome pack’ so you should have seen or heard from us.

I pay fees to the association – what happens to the money?

All the money we collect is used to (a) repair the road, (b) insure the residents’ association and householders for any public liability claims that you may face or (c) repair the traffic islands and entrance pillars.   Between February 2013 and January 2014 alone we spent £13,730 on road repairs; this money was collected over 2 financial years (1st April to 31st March).   Although the road surface is still in a poor condition, imagine what it would be like if we did not do what we can with your help.

I am not paying fees – what should I do?

Fill out the standing order as requested and return it to our treasurer at 88 Egerton Park.   £5.00 per month is £1.15 pence per week – less than a Sunday newspaper.   A properly repaired road free of potholes makes our estate safer and more attractive, and will put value on the price of your house or flat, way in excess of the maintenance fees.   Many homeowners tell us that potential buyers have been put off by the potholes and that their house has stayed on the market far longer than it should have.

I don’t agree that I should pay – what should I do?

Write to us and tell us why you think everyone else should pay and why you should not.   We all have to use the road.   In addition, we suggest you take out your own public liability insurance in case there is an accident outside your home due to a pothole.   In one accident alone our insurers paid out £13,000 to a child who broke his ankle in a pothole.

I have received a warning letter about fees – why?

Because our database tells us you have either never paid or have previously paid and have fallen into arrears.   We have for several years been encouraging residents to pay voluntarily but in so many cases this did not work, so we have had no choice but to warn people of the consequences of non-payment.

What will happen if I don’t pay?

Our public liability insurance company has advised us that they will not pay out any claims under our policy for any personal injury that occurs in front of your property if you do not pay your fees to the residents’ association.   You need to know your legal risks as a ‘frontager’ within the meaning of sections 203 to sections 237 (Part XI) of the Highways Act 1980, as well as your duty of care to all who visit your property under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957.   We suggest you seek legal advice on these specific issues.

We may initiate County Court proceedings against you.   We are trying to avoid that in all cases as we do not want to sue our neighbours and we know that the cases are legally complicated.   We want to support a better community spirit, not destroy trust and friendship.   However, we reserve the right to pursue legal proceedings if we have to.

I would like to speak with someone about these matters – who should I contact?

Please bear in mind that members of the committee are all volunteers who have full-time jobs and family responsibilities just like yourself, so our time is limited and we cannot be on the phone or email to residents all the time.   However, if this fact sheet does not answer your questions you can visit our website www.egertonpark.wordpress.com  or email us on egerton_parkch42@yahoo.co.uk

Alternatively you can write to

The Chair,

Egerton Park Residents’ Association,

98 Egerton Park,    Rock Ferry,    CH42 4RB.

You can also use the reply box below.

In all cases please provide your name, address (including flat number if relevant) and email address.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

                                                                               AUGUST 2015 

The following is quoted from a HOUSE OF COMMONS LIBRARY parliamentary briefing paper about unadopted roads.   The paper is 11 pages long and a PDF version can be found at the link given below.   A web search for Unadopted Roads will also take you to this link.   The page numbers and headings are those of the briefing paper.

Roads: unadopted

Standard Note: SN/BT/402
Last updated: 18 October 2010
Author: Louise Butcher
Section Business and Transport

PAGE 1 (third paragraph)

“Responsibility for the cost of maintaining a private road rests with the frontagers (the owners of properties with frontages on such roads). However statutory provision does exist for unadopted roads to be adopted and thus become highways maintainable at public expense. Statutory provision also enables the street works authority to require frontagers to put in hand repairs if there is a danger to traffic in a private street. Where the frontagers fail to act as required the authority may execute the repairs itself and recover the costs from the frontagers.”

PAGE 4

“3      Maintenance

“The highway authority is not responsible for maintaining an unadopted road although it can intervene under existing legislation to repair it. Responsibility for the cost of maintenance of a private road rests with the frontagers; that is, the owners of properties with frontages on such roads. Even if it is not the frontagers who ‘own’ the road but a third party such as a property company, it is the frontagers who are referred to in the legislation. The highway authority may therefore only deal with them and is not concerned with the owners of the road.

“Responsibility for the road’s upkeep therefore lies with the frontagers, not the local authority. If an unadopted road is adopted and so becomes a highway maintainable at public expense, the highways authority will normally expect the road to be of a proper standard before it is taken on. No funds are available from the EU for repairs to unadopted roads, though it may be possible to obtain a loan from the relevant local authority.

“It is not uncommon for the owner of a private road to be unknown. The first step to trace them is to search the Land Register as, if the road is registered, the owner’s name will be shown. Failing this, it may be possible to trace the owner from the original developer of the road, by examining the deeds of the houses in the road or the deeds granting rights of way over the road. Even if there is no information about the owner, the frontagers can take over the management of the road and will be protected by law from all but the true owner. For example, they will be able to maintain the road and regulate parking.”

http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/sn00402.pdf

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