Communities who ask to use their own money to make minor improvements to roads in their area will soon be able to do so in Devon after the council’s cabinet gave a trial scheme the go-ahead.
Self-delivery schemes could be for a 20mph zone or traffic calming for instance.
The Devon cabinet approved recommendations for a Community Self-Delivery of Highway Improvements trial, a proposal that had cross-party support.
It follows the Corporate, Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee considering the proposals last month.
A step-by-step guide or ‘checklist’ will be published enabling communities to understand the steps that are required before any work is carried out.
The council’s highways service receive requests from communities for permission to pay for and make small improvements to a highway in their area.
These requests are where communities have funding in place, but the council’s highways service lacks the capacity to deliver it on their behalf as quickly the community would like.
The results of the trial will then help us determine if the proposal should be turned into a permanent scheme.
The guide itself has been co-authored by the Highways and Traffic Management Service with the support of the Engineering Design Group and lays out the typical steps that need consideration before work is carried out.
Steps include appointing a competent designer, environmental considerations, road safety and maintenance audits, consultation with affected parties and any changes to Traffic Regulation Orders.
The proposal was supported by the leaders of all the political groupings on our councillor, and Councilor Carol Whitton, the Leader of the Labour Group said she ‘looked forward to hearing more about the trial as the trial progresses.’
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management said: “We as elected members are often approached by our local town and parish councils who would like to progress minor highway improvements which do not necessarily match the priorities of the broader county council.
“This trial will enable communities to self-deliver minor improvements and is a continuation of the successful road warden and snow warden scheme.
“The learning from the trial will help determine whether the arrangement is made permanent.
“I thank the Corporate, Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee for considering this matter, for their input and support for the trial.
“Their suggestion of a checklist for town and parish councils supporting the community in carrying out these works will be included in the guidance documents to support the initiative.”
During the meeting Cllr Frank Biederman, Leader of the Independent Group, said ”I think it is a step in the right direction. It is evidence of where we are, we simply can’t afford to do everything our communities want us to do. If locally it’s a priority and they want to raise their precept to do it, then let them do it. Let’s enable our communities.”
Councilor Julian Brazil, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said: “I really welcome this report, It is exactly how things should be working. We’ve discussed (at HATOC) where a number of communities have ideas and plans and things they want to do, but they are just not our top priority as a council.
“If these communities have the capacity and the funds and they want to do it and want to pay for it then they should be allowed to do it . My one caveat would be I hope it doesn’t become too prescriptive…we need a clear and simple process, but I think it’s a really positive way forward.”