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Issues to discuss with Devon CC's chief executive

Paper prepared for Dr Phil Norrey's meeting with Clayhidon Parish Council on 2 December 2013

by Parish Councillor Alex Hill

Highways issues

Background

Clayhidon is a rural parish remote from the seat of local government in Tiverton. Residents of Clayhidon do not receive many of the benefits provided by the local authority available to those who live in or near the District’s towns and there is a feeling that we do not receive a fair share of the resources available to the communities of Mid Devon.

As far as local government is concerned, the most serious issue for the residents of Clayhidon is the state of our roads. There is a belief in the Parish that the limited resources available for road maintenance have not been deployed as effectively as possible in the past. There is also a belief that our roads are not as well maintained as equivalent rural roads nearer to the centre of the district. We believe that Clayhidon is disadvantaged because it is a large parish with a small population and a relatively long road network.

We understand that the money available for road maintenance falls well below what would be required to put the roads of Devon into good order and maintain them. We know that the Highways Department is working under great pressure and with reducing budgets. With this in mind we want to work with the Highways Department and Local Government to get the best value from the resources available.

We wish to establish regular and clear communication between the Parish Council and those responsible for road maintenance. The objective of this two-way communication will be to make it clear to the Highways Department the priorities of the Parish and for the Highways Department to let the Parish know what is possible and to advise us of the schedule of any work to be carried out.

Concerns about historic maintenance priorities

The Parish Council is concerned that scarce resources may not in the past have been deployed in the areas of greatest need in the Parish. Two Category 11 Minor Lanes (the second lowest classification) that service very few properties and carry very little traffic have been completely resurfaced to a high standard while Category 8 Minor collector roads have been neglected to the extent that they are barely passable by cars. We also note that roads are patched repeatedly without attention being paid to the cause of the damage – e.g. permanently blocked drains.

Provision for consultation

What provision is there for consultation between the Highways Department and Parish Councils? Members of Clayhidon Parish Council have an intimate knowledge of the roads in the Parish. We would like to share this knowledge with the Highways Department to help achieve the best value possible from the limited resources available.

Communication

What is the preferred means of communication between parishes and the Highways Department? How does the highways Department notify parishes of planned maintenance work?

What are the resources available to Clayhidon for road maintenance?

The Parish Council would like to be advised of the annual budget available for road maintenance in Clayhidon. Is this budget divided between routine maintenance and emergency repairs?

Lengthsman

What provision is there for lengthsman’s hours in Clayhidon? How many hours/days a year are allocated? Is there a specification for the duties to be carried out by the lengthsman? We have heard that there may be plans to enable parish councils to take up responsibility for managing lengthsman duties. What is the budget allocated for these services and what support will the Highways Department give parish councils that opt to take up this responsibility?

Independent, private maintenance near highways

Given the ever-diminishing resources available to the Highways Department we find that more and more drains and ditches are neglected. In order to prevent damage to private property and to the public highway some landowners have offered to clear ditches, drains, etc. adjacent to the highway. Are there legal restrictions on the work that can be carried out by private individuals adjacent to the highway?

There are specific issues that need to be addressed:

 Road classification

In the opinion of the Parish Council, one significant road in the Parish is classified at too low a level in the Maintenance Hierarchy. The road from Shackle Cross (GR 163131) to Whitedown Cross (GR 166097) should be upgraded from ‘service’ to ‘minor collector ‘ classification, bringing it into line with other roads in the parish with similar traffic levels.   This road not only services 20 homes but carries through traffic heading north/south through the parish from and to Honiton.       

Maintenance priorities

There are two roads in particular in the parish requiring repair work as a matter of priority: the road running south from Shackle Cross to Burrow’s Farm (part of the road mentioned above) and the ‘minor collector’ road from Clayhidon Parish Hall (GR 165142) east past Bellett’s Farm to Hidewood Farm. Both of these roads are in a poor state of repair.

 Road Signage

High quality, extensive repairs have recently been carried out to Gladhayes Bridge in Clayhidon (GR 152139), including rebuilding the parapet. This parapet has on more than one occasion been damaged by long vehicles attempting to negotiate the junction at the bridge. The Parish Council requests that a clear sign is positioned at the top of Gladhayes Lane (at the south end of Rosemary Lane) to advise long vehicles not to use this lane. The sign should be non-verbal, showing a lorry with a red line across it. A similar sign should be placed at the top of Ford Street to discourage long vehicles from driving south into Clayhidon.

 

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