LETTER: Farm vehicles not always to blame for state of roads

A reader questions claims about farm vehicles damaging roads.

Tractors lined up
Tractors lined up

As a fellow member of the Performance Management Scrutiny Committee and present when Councillor Joyce Barrow made her remarks in the Task & Finish Group meeting on 29 July, expressing her constituents' concerns about the “damage” done to road verges by farm vehicles and the way those vehicles were driven, I’d point out that I responded to those comments by reminding Members that farms were here long before most of the county’s housing developments were built.

I also felt it necessary to point out that the size of modern farm vehicles reflected the changed nature of farming nowadays, necessary to make farming pay; to make economic sense fields are bigger and so the machinery needed to work them is bigger. That’s been the reality of rural life for at least a generation.

It’s a case of “welcome to the countryside”.

As for the blocking of drains? That’s a perennial problem whether a road sees agricultural machinery or not and has to do with Shropshire Council’s failure (for whatever reason) to jet them regularly. I twice recently had occasion to get the council out to clear drains, in one case it was found that drains weren’t mapped on the system and kept getting missed (easily remedied), in the other case jetting revealed a collapse that had probably been there for years (not so easily remedied), both cases raising the question not which allegedly over-sized agricultural vehicle caused the damage, but where was the programme of works that would have picked up the problem earlier and stopped other road users complaining?

I ended my plea on behalf of farmers by advising committee members to think carefully before “putting the boot into farmers”.

And tractor drivers on cell-phones? I don’t think anyone would disagree that the phone should be confiscated and driven home where the sun never shines by a well placed very muddy work boot.

Cllr. Dave Tremellen, Member for Highley Division of Shropshire Council

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