Lancashire County Council and Blackpool Council have agreed to take on responsibility for maintaining a number of road lengths within each other’s boundaries as part of a ‘common-sense approach’ to improve efficiency.
The Lancashire/Blackpool boundary cuts across a wide urban area, with the result that each council is currently responsible for inspecting and maintaining only part of a number of roads, with the other council looking after the remaining length of the same road.
This can lead to inefficient practices such as highways staff having to travel some distance within the other council’s border to reach a short length of road which they are responsible for, said the councils.
The councils already have an agreement in place, dating back to 1998, to maintain a handful of road lengths on each other’s behalf, but a new more comprehensive agreement which will take effect from 1 April 2021 has expanded this to include all roads which cross the boundary.
It means that Lancashire County Council will take on responsibility for 9 sections of road which cross the boundary, and Blackpool Council will be responsible for 29.
The new agreement will also make it easier for residents to report problems, and the councils to resolve them, by making it clearer which side of the boundary the issue lies.
County Councillor Keith Iddon, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We’re always looking for ways to improve our services, and this agreement will make it easier for residents to report highway issues, as well as saving time and money for both councils in responding to them.
“Other parts of Lancashire’s boundary are largely rural so it is far easier to see which council is responsible for which length of road, however our boundary with Blackpool goes through a dense urban area, which is why it makes sense to have this agreement in place.
“Our aim is to make highway maintenance simpler for everyone, and there has been a lot of work behind the scenes to update systems, and ensure staff are aware of this change. It is certainly the most common-sense approach for the long term, however I’m grateful for people’s patience initially while everyone gets used to the new arrangement.”
Councillor Jim Hobson, Blackpool Council cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: “We are pleased that the response to highway matters across the boundary between Fylde and Blackpool has been simplified, making it easier, cheaper and quicker for all involved to deliver a full range of services, whilst continuing to improve community safety across both boroughs.”
The Highways Act (1980) allows councils to make a formal agreement for one highway authority to maintain the assets within another authority area. The agreement between Lancashire and Blackpool will cover all aspects of highways infrastructure including the road surface, streetlights, and drainage. Any current issue which has not been resolved by 31 March 2021 will remain the responsibility of the existing authority.