Council chiefs have slammed Highways England for doing a “u-turn on promises” to tidy up and close lay-bys in Tilbury.

Residents and councillors have raised concerns for the safety of other road users when heavy goods vehicles overhang on the lay-bys.

“Significant” waste has also been left behind, which is said to include human waste, litter, food and debris.

A spokesperson at the council said today: “The council learnt last week that despite over a year’s worth of promises to tidy up and close lay-bys on the Dock Approach Road in Tilbury, Highways England are doing on U-turn and refusing.”

Residents like Tony Coughlin, Chair of Thurrock Park community group, said he was livid at the U-turn.

He said: “This is disgraceful. You expect better from such a large organisation, but it seems they are letting my community down on all fronts.

“I’ve been in contact with various people in Highways England for months. I’ve asked for the contact information of the decision makers so we can make the case, again, to close the lay-bys and I’m ignored.

Council Leader Rob Gledhill called it “an absolute disgrace.”

He said: “It is an absolute disgrace – but I’ve learnt to not trust anything Highways England says.”

“If we look at the last year; Highways England ran a consultation about an additional crossing in Thurrock which was so flawed it should have been stopped completely, they continue to not engage with us in a timely manner when there are issues with the existing crossing that brings our borough to a standstill.

“And then this – to promise to do something for over a year and then cowardly send an e-mail to say they aren't is despicable.

Councillor Gledhill added: “We are committed to our promises of Clean It, Cut It and Fill It – but, this only extends to areas the council is in control of and I will not spend taxpayer’s money to clear roads where someone else is responsible – especially when they have already paid to have them cleared.

“We are putting our promises into action, we have already visited our responsible areas on the A13, twice, in week-long night time clean ups.

“Let’s be honest, we shouldn’t have to do any clear ups as road users should be keeping their rubbish in their car until they find a bin - simple! But, we are where we are and we don’t want to live in a dump, so we clear it.”

Portfolio Holder for Transport, Councillor Brian Little said he would be writing to Highways England again to ‘urgently review’ the case as well as writing to the Minister for Transport.

Mr Little said: “The fact is, I’ve been copied into e-mails from residents and Highways England who has agreed closing the lay-bys was the best solution, we fully supported the arrangement but when the time actually came for action – they’ve backtracked.

“We will be writing to Highways England again to put our case formally forward – this needs to be reviewed urgently. I will also be writing to the Minister of State for Transport to ask them to look at this debacle personally.”