Sunday, 23 August 2015

Communities filling the budget gaps by cutting the verges

To what extent should 'volunteerism' be the way forward?
Futures Forum: Volunteers in the community: 'doing jobs for free' or 'empowering communities to take local action'?

We have had the proposal from Devon County that 'the community' should 'take responsibility' for providing services:
Futures Forum: Communities filling the budget gaps by filling the potholes...

... although paying twice - in the form of taxes and doing it oneself - should provoke the question of who benefits:
Futures Forum: Investing in roads in East Devon: who pays ... and who benefits?

Earlier this month, the Sunday Times referred to services rendered:


16 AUG 2015

According to the “Driving” section of today’s Sunday Times page 7), DCC Councillor Stuart Hughes (Highways portfolio) has trained to act as a Road Warden in Sidmouth.

“If there’s a pothole that people are concerned about then they can give me a call and I can do a temporary fill … “. he is quoted as saying in the article.

Now, that should come in VERY useful if Sidford Fields is developed into an industrial estate, though he may not have time for the day job!

Who ya gonna call? Pot-hole Buster DCC councillor Stuart Hughes! | East Devon Watch

The Sunday Times again reports about goings on in deepest darkest Devon - and this time it's about 'volunteering' to cut the grass along the highways and byways:


23 AUG 2015

Letter in today’s Sunday Times magazine Driving supplement, page 3

“Verging on the ridiculous”

“The article about volunteers cutting the grass and tidying the verges of Devon’s highways [last week] makes interesting reading, especially when you consider that the chief executive of Devon council, Phil Norrey, is on £150,000 – more than our PM gets for running the entire country. Looking at the photo of the happy band of volunteers, I recalled the words attributed to P T Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute”. I’m sure Mr Norrey would agree, as he laughs all the way to the bank.”

Ali Kelman, Surrey

One born every minute? | East Devon Watch

You might indeed prefer to leave the verges uncut:

Grass verge cutting services have been axed in Teignbridge

By GinnyWare | Posted: June 18, 2015

Overgrown: Long grass in Swanborough Road, Newton Abbot

Comments (3)

Residents in Teignbridge are being asked to cut their own grass verges by Devon County Council, which says it can no longer afford to carry out the service.

The cash strapped council says it has taken the decision to slash its grass cutting service because of 'massive pressure' on revenue budgets.

The call for volunteers to carry out what was once a county council provided service comes on top of the authority's recent bid to recruit volunteers within communities to fill potholes in the roads.

District and county councillor, Alan Connett, says residents are being short-changed by the council.

Grass verge cutting services have been axed in Teignbridge | Torquay Herald Express

Indeed, the County is encouraging us to leave verges alone:
Futures Forum: Devonshire hedgerows and verges - and national guidance on cutting
Futures Forum: Devonshire hedgerows and verges - pilot project
Futures Forum: Devonshire verges >>> extending wildflower projects across the county

Whatever the presentation, the future is more 'outsourcing' to 'communities' - as the County Council's webpages indicate:

Self help and Community Support

The community support schemes give town and parish councils and community self-help groups the opportunity to take control of small local maintenance tasks; allowing you to manage local volunteers and maintain your own local area.

How you can get involved
  • Snow Wardens Scheme – trained volunteers who act as a key contact between the local community and DCC during severe weather
  • Parish Paths Partnership (P3) – a scheme to help people improve the condition of their local rights of way
  • Community Self Help Scheme – trained volunteers who complete minor works out at a safe distance from the public highway
  • Community Road Warden scheme – trained volunteers who complete minor maintenance works in the vincinity of the public highway within their community.
Any parish or town council or community self-help group interested in the Community Self Help or Community Road Warden schemes will need to attend at least one of these courses depending upon the type of work to be undertaken:
  • Highway Safety Awareness Training – Half day workshop aimed at raising the safety awareness and providing information to those persons who would wish to volunteer to undertake minor maintenance works within their community.
  • SWQR Unit 2 – Signing, Lighting & Guarding (City & Guilds) 2 day course – Basic Chapter 8 qualification for those persons who would wish to volunteer to undertake minor maintenance works within the vicinity of the public highway.
This year we are providing the basic funding required for volunteers to undertake this training, which is being delivered in partnership with South West Highways Ltd.
Read these guidance notes if you are interested in becoming involved with the Community Road Warden Scheme and Community Self-Help Scheme.

Community Self Help scheme
To be part of this scheme you must do the basic Highway Safety Awareness Training course. Once completed, you can supervise volunteers doing work at a safe distance from the live carriageway or footway, or under a temporary road closure. These are regarded as Level 1 works and include:
  • clearing weeds
  • cleaning signs
  • cleaning gully grating
  • cutting grass
  • repairing finger posts
  • cutting hedges road closures for special events
  • ecological, geological and historical surveys.
Groups involved in the Community Self Help scheme must provide their own insurance.

Community Road Warden Scheme
If you want to become part of the Community Road Warden scheme, you will need to attend Chapter 8 – SWQR Unit 2 training to enable you to carry out work within the vicinity of the live carriageway or footway in an established low speed and low risk environment.
When the training is complete you will need to enter in to a formal Community Road Warden agreement and you will then be able to carry out the same works as the Community Self Help Scheme but at:
  • 20 mph speed limit and 20 mph zones
  • residential estates, cul-de-sacs and registered Home Zones
  • 30 mph speed limits – where approved by the local neighbourhood highway officer (NHO).

For all Community Road Wardens we will provide:
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • access to tools held at five locations across the county
  • a supply of certain materials.
You must get any work to be carried out by Community Road Wardens or by a Community Self-Help Group agreed beforehand by your local highway neighbourhood officer.

Contact us
If you’re interested in working with us to more effectively manage your local area call 0345 155 1004 or email hwaymain@devon.gov.uk

Community support
We are also talking to some parishes about how local farmers can safely contribute towards maintenance on rural minor roads by:
  • cutting verges
  • cleaning ditches – most are the landowners’ responsibility
  • ploughing road edges.

Current examples
  • Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton Town Councils issue hedge-cutting advisory notes to property owners and occupiers telling them about their responsibilities and offering the services of their local operative to do any work needed for a nominal fee.
  • Barnstaple Town Council do additional grass cutting in co-operation with DCC. They maintain The Square and a number of other high-profile planters in the town. They also have a parish handyman who undertakes minor highway work.
  • Lifton Parish Council do extra weed spraying for paths in the village and cut a large amount of the urban grass to help keep the verges tidy. We still do the four times a year cut.
  • Hawkchurch Parish run their lengthsman service in partnership with parishes in Dorset

Self help and Community Support | Roads and transport

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