We Pay Our Rates

Posted By on 6th August 2018

You often hear disgruntled people saying how they ‘pay their rates’ well for once I know how they feel. In Binbrook we have the odd street light, the grass is cut in strategic places and our dustbins are emptied, but if you don’t have children at the school or use the mobile library, that’s about it.

Back in June 2016 I took this photo from the bedroom window. It shows the junction across from our house after a heavy downpour.

Things haven’t improved, any sudden heavy rainfall results in a lagoon across the road. Even though it soon disappears it is obviously dangerous to traffic at the time and complaints have been made.

In April of this year we received a letter from the Lindsey Marsh Drainage Board (LMDB) telling us that the drainage ditch which runs the length of our property, between the hedge and the road, is blocked and could we do something about it.

Drainage ditches are common in this part of the country and are an ancient and well tested method of flood prevention/control, but it seems ‘ours’ was having the opposite effect.

Our first reaction was surprise. “It’s not our ditch” we protested, “It’s clearly marked outside the boundary of our property as shown on the deeds.”

You’ll love LMDB’s reply.

“No, you don’t own it, the council own it, but you’re responsible for maintaining it.”

“What?! Neither the previous owner, nor the solicitor doing the searches when we bought the property mentioned that to us.”

LMDB reply “Did you ask them?”

Us. “Well no we didn’t but why would we its outside our boundary?”

In the end we had to concede defeat as it appears that in law we are the ‘Riparian owners’. No, I’d never heard of it either so I looked it up,

“Riparian – relating to or situated on the banks of a river.”

though I think comparing a dry drainage ditch to a river is a bit of a stretch, but it’s not all bad news. In common law we have ‘Riparian rights’ which means we can fish in it or sail our boat. Given that since we’ve been here (and I suspect a long time before) it is usually completely dry, only rarely having a trickle in the bottom, I think both of these things are unlikely to happen!

However, I digress. If we’d have known all this back in 2014, we might have walked away from the purchase, or at the very least we would have strived to keep the ditch clear of debris.

And so Peter, much against my advice and better judgement, began digging it out. Although his mind was willing his back wasn’t and it soon became clear a pensioner with a garden spade and a bad back wasn’t going to cut it. He’s still suffering in August.

In the meantime LMDB convened a meeting of all interested parties. It turns out that ‘our’ ditch is not the only problem. In fact all the houses on this side of the road have issues of one kind or another culminating at the far end with a sort of dam that has formed over the years due to the local land owner not maintaining his part of the ditch, in other words even if there was any water it has nowhere to flow even if it got that far.

Meanwhile at our end by the junction (see above picture) everything goes underground, so no-one actually knows what horrors are lurking beneath the road surface.

The meeting took place on the side of the road on June 27th. It lasted around 90 minutes, attendance was good a mixture of residents, LMDB, the Parish Council and East Lindsey District Council (ELDC).

Everyone was allowed to say their piece. Needless to say there were lots of differing opinions and suggestions. The only thing we could all agree on was that it was a problem and we thought the council should pay for it. Sadly ‘the council’ didn’t agree.

Someone suggested getting the Highways Department to pay given that it was motor vehicles and not property that were affected, but that also fell on deaf ears.

It was obvious that each householder taking charge of their own bit wasn’t going to work as a uniform base level needed to be achieved for any water to have a chance of flowing freely, and so LMDC and ELDC agreed to find a contractor willing to dig out the open sections with a machine, whilst the council would power jet the underground sections and insert a camera to check for damage. The resulting bill would then be split pro-rata between the residents.

Good news for Peter’s back but not for his bank balance as our bit at around 104 feet is the longest open stretch.

As things stand now nothing has happened since the meeting and as we all know Winter will be upon us all too soon. Watch this space.

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