Kudos to the council for helping to fix a big problem

The Rev Canon Bob White with representatives of the groups involved in our Christmas campaignh run with churches in Portsmouth - Comfort and Joy

NEWS COMMENT: Dig deep and help to spread some comfort this Christmas

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A major road closing for almost three months was a depressing prospect.

It would have effectively split Emsworth in two and had a major knock-on effect on traffic across the entire Havant and Emsworth area.

It was the last thing shopkeepers wanted in the run-up to Christmas.

But everyone knew the work had to be done.

A wall near the railway bridge collapsed earlier this year, forcing the council to close off the pavement for safety reasons.

One can imagine the logistical nightmare for Havant Borough Council when it investigated and could find no trace of who owns the wall and therefore who has the responsibility of fixing it.

So the council is to be applauded for taking it upon itself, for the good of the community, of trying to find a solution.

In these cash-strapped times, it could have simply said ‘not our problem’.

The worst-case scenario was a 10-week road closure.

But now, to everyone’s relief, the council has found a contractor which only needs to close the road for a few days.

The question now arises of who should pay.

The bill could be £130,000 and some are questioning whether the local authority, or the residents whose lands abuts the wall, should pay – that’s the few of the county council, anyway.

But the counter argument is that this is a public thoroughfare and it is the local authority’s responsibility to maintain it.

Imagine if you had just moved into one of the houses, only to get a letter demanding payment to rebuild a crumbling wall.

As well as providing services, such as rubbish collection, libraries, street lighting and so on, we pay our council tax as a kind of insurance. It’s in the hope that local councils are the custodians of our communities and will be there to find solutions when things go wrong. And for this reason, we applaud Havant’s attitude in looking to fix the problem for the good of all. And we are sure that everyone in Emsworth will be relieved.