The highways budget review for 2014/15 is now closed. The responses have been considered and the proposals revised.
Below you will find the general comments left on this page during the consultation.
The road repair setup at present doesn’t deal with root causes.. Many of the repairs that are repeatedly carried out in our are rapidly fail again. Many potholes reoccur in the same place because of bad drainage and blocked culverts. SWH seem quite content to come back every few weeks and carry out a repeat repair or an adjacent one. Whilst the quality of their repairs in many cases is suspect allowing water to enter and cause further damage, it is the failure to deal with root causes that is costing us all money. I can show you in detail an number of examples and have attempted to convey the message to the inspectors that drive around checking for pothole. Don’t keep whingeing about shortage of money, learn to work more effectively as private organisations have had to.
I fully understand that our highways have taken a beating due to the weather and as a result there are potholes everywhere that need repairing.
However, last year I watched 4 men draw up in a truck in my road, throw some stones into the pothole, patted it down with a spade and threw some Tarmac on top and drove off! 4 men took 2 minutes maximum and guess what only a few months later the pothole had reappeared! Pay for cheap work and you only end up paying again, DCC need to get some decent workmen and the potholes will stay filled in but it may cost more.
I have been saying for years that every parish/ward needs a general community worker. The role would combine neighborhood “policing” and general maintenance such as drains, verges, hedges, litter, traffic, planning violations and so on. This would save substantial amounts of money by combining lots of expensive disparate roles as well as giving each area a “one stop responsible person” and effective neighbourhood watch.
Reduce draining and gully cleaning: disagree Stop tree surveying: agree Road marking renewals: agree Reduce street light repairs: agree for towns, disagree for villages Reduce verge grass cutting: agree Reduce cattle grid cleaning: agree Stop free stiles and gates: agree Stop maintenance of variable message road signs: disagree
…cont…fewer traffic lights! Expensive, unneccesary, and promote an attitude of not observing hazards at junctions! Many more street lights could go off overnight too, or maybe alternate lights if possible in areas where people feel in danger!?Pothole repair and road/gulley maintenance should be PROTECTED. Variable msg roadsigns- not often needed, they could go too.
Highways proposals- think this should be one area that sees fewer cuts as it enables people to move, work, pay tax etc and also the drains, gullies when properly maintained reduces flooding, damage injury etc and it’s associated costs…..However….! ….I agree with the tree survey cuts, grass/verge cutting where its not covering roads or presenting a danger. FEWER TRAFFIC LIG
Please find below comments from Ermington Parish Council –
1. Reduce locally determined highway drainage and cleaning activities carried out by Parish Lengthsmen – OBJECT 2. Review gulley emptying schedules to concentrate more on problem gullies – OBJECT 3. Stop specialist tree surveying on trees on privately owned land close to, but not on the highway – SUPPORT 4. Stop routine renewal of non-essential road markings – SUPPORT 5. Only repair streetlights when two or more lights become faulty – SUPPORT 6. Stop cutting grass verges on minor roads (except for safety reasons) – SUPPORT 7. Stop annual routine cleaning of cattle grids – OBJECT 8. Stop providing free stiles and gates to landowners with a public right of way and reduce vegetation clearance on more paths – OBJECT 9. Stop maintenance of variable message road signs and remove when they become defective – SUPPORT
Parish Clerk, 23/12/13
Highway Proposals Members of Mortehoe Parish Council made the following comments at their meeting on Monday 16th December 2013:· Parish Lengthsmen – Reducing the duplication of highway drainage and cleaning activities undertaken by Parish Lengthsmen and the routine annual programme by stopping the latter to save around £550,000 out of a current budget of almost £940,000. Members felt that as long as the work was carried out satisfactorily on at least one occasion that this should be sufficient. They felt however that there should be the provision of some service to tackle problems as they arise within the Parish. · Gully Cleaning Targeting more frequent cleaning of identified problem gullies, rather than carrying out the annual gully emptying schedule which costs over £1.7 million. This could save in the order of £330,000. Members felt that neglect of some gullies could lead to more expensive emergency measures and that the choice of ‘problem gullies’ should be carefully monitored. · Street lighting – costs around £4.3 million a year, 75% of which is energy costs. The County Council’s street lighting contractor currently responds to all reports of street lighting faults. As well as the savings the service is making on energy costs, if the contractor was only required to carry out repairs when two or more adjacent lights become faulty in a street, it could save around £270,000.Members felt that any delays in the prompt repairs of street lights could lead to dangerous situations within the Parish and requested that the present service be continued. They pointed out that the school path lights were currently not working. · Grass Cutting More than £1.3 million a year is spent on cutting of grass verges on minor roads. Currently, a one metre strip of verge alongside the carriageway is cut once or twice a year in rural areas, depending on road category. If this was stopped on the minor road network, with only verge cutting at road junctions and bends continuing for visibility and safety reasons it would save £200,000. Members felt that Parishes should have the option to highlight verges which should be cut regularly for the safety of pedestrians who use the verge as a pavement. This is especially relevant on Beach Road, Woolacombe where, in the absence of a pavement, pedestrians are forced to walk on the road if the verge is too long. · Road Marking – If non-essential road markings, such as SLOW markings, were no longer replaced unless there was a safety issue, around £186,000 could be saved from a budget of more than £1.1 million. – Members felt that this proposal was acceptable providing the lack of markings caused a safety hazard.
I hope these comments are of help
Clerk to Mortehoe Parish Council
I am concerned about the proposals to reduce gully cleaning and would request that this proposal, if it goes through, does not apply to communities such as Feniton and Ottery St Mary, that are subject to flood events.
Re verge cutting, the wildflower verge pilot will yield some interesting results next year which may be able to be replicated across the county and also save money. I would say though, that for this programme to be successful on a wider scale, that DCC needs to come to an agreement with its insurers as currently the rules around communities working on highways owned verges are completely, and in my view, unnecessarily restrictive.
This is probably the most unfair and biased consultation we have ever been asked to respond to. The response from your hundreds of parishes shows that that they have thought that any sort of response was irrelevant. The number of responses both to the detailed questions and to the request to “join the debate” show that this questionnaire seems just to be an exercise in box-filling!
The questions asked by the Highways Budget Review are heavily biased to persuade reductions in rural highway expenditure, rather than examining the emphasis of the overall Devon Highways expenditure. The total DCC budget Highways expenditure in 2013/2014 is around £43mn. We have only been asked to examine and offer opinion about the miniscule proportion amounting to £4mn within the budget, offering discussion about the proposed saving of around £2mn. The total current rural spending offered for consideration amounts to £11 mn within the current budget.
The proposal within the Highways Review is to save £6.9 mn on the whole 2014/15 budget. What is not considered within this questionnaire is that the current expenditure on “Non-Principal Roads and Bridges” is nearly a massive £22mn per annum. Obviously the proposed overall reduction of minor road maintenance is nowhere stated in the questionnaire with only consideration offered for the topics of the lesser £5.21mn expenditure. The key question is to ask what their plan is for these non-principal roads and bridges expenditure, which is not an item specifically listed in the questionnaire.
The results of this proposal might leave most of our parish roads unusable over a couple of decades; we are not asked to comment on this proposed disastrous reduction of maintenance of our local highways. These minor roads are the way we get around our parish; they are the life-blood of our communication and need to be maintained usable today by vehicles, horse, pedestrians with the old tracks included.
As stated by many respondents (including Colin Trudgeon on 20/11) , the proposed cuts by DCC seem oriented to the reduction of highway maintenance in rural areas
Cllr Geoffrey Bass – Culmstock Parish
This Parish Council is concerned that reducing the visits by th lelnghtman would mean that reporting any safety issues would berelianton general public. It was also concerned about the street lightsnot being repaired until anotherwas faulty. Living in a rural area where there are so few would mean that themajority of the time at least one the lights could be out of order throughout the year. It was felt that cattle grids should be maintained for public safety. Stiles and Gates on Right of Way – the Government forced right of wayson to landowners and then to remove this serviceis unfair. It was felt it was DCC’sduty to ensure that Public ROW were maintained to a standard that was acceptable in terms of safety to the public.
I know, let all the developers of the horrendous amount of new housing going up all over Exeter and surrounds pay for their blots on our landscape ……..after all, you’ll get the rates and their new ‘boxes’ will no doubt add to the wear and tear of all our services……including our social budgets, and it remains to be seen whether the location of some/many will indeed add to the flooding!
no facility to promote an increase in budget only a presumpion that I agree with reducing it ,some budget I fee need to be increased on this site !
Further to my earlier comments regarding excessive signage, I noted today that the top of Cotmaton Road, Sidmouth was closed. Peak Hill Road was unaffected. Driving back from Otterton towards Peak Hill Road, I passed two signs saying ‘Road Ahead Closed’. Firstly, this was not true, since the road ahead, Peak Hill Road, was open. Secondly, the only effect was to confuse motorists and perhaps encourage them to turn around unnecessarily. Thirdly, the signage may have resulted in a loss of business to Sidmouth. Finally, this kind of misleading signage only encourages motorists to ignore signs in the future.
This is only a small example, but it is yet another case of pointless, counterproductive signage being put up at considerable cost to the County Council. And inconvenience to the community.
Why not have a new rule at County Hall: only put up a ‘Road Ahead Closed’ sign when the road ahead is indeed closed! Is that too simple?
recentlywithout consultation my street lights at TQ12 6YQ have been switched off between approx midnight and 0600 .As a pensioner living alone who suffers from asthma I feel very unsafe, especially as there are times when in early hours I may need to visit out of hours GP at local hospital for my condition. Even one light per street would help.Please reconsider in the intersts of health and safety if nothing else. My address is 45 Luxton Rd Ogwell Newwton Abbot.
I am very concerned about both the short and long term impact of the absence of drain emptying and verge clearing outside towns. Where I live between Goodleigh and Gunn the road quickly becomes a river after rainfall because the normal escapes are blocked / covered with detritus which is never cleared. In places the verges have spread two feet into the road! The resulting river not only poses a danger to road users, as the combination of water and mud is slippery, but very quickly leads to large potholes, the material from which further restricts water dispersing – a vicious circle of damage. The County Council has a duty to maintain the highway and make sure there is adequate provision for getting water off the highway – and in both these it is plainly failing. If the County cannot fulfill it’s legal obligations, then it MUST explain the problem to the communities affected and offer help / advice for communities to deal with these issues. In my area I keep the drains clear on an almost daily basis, but I cannot dig out blocked drains or clear verges – and so far the County has shown little inclination to do so either. The short term expedient by the County of doing nothing will, eventually, lead to a much greater repair cost than carrying out basic maintenance on a regular basis.
Agree with both of the above comments by Eric Cozens and Cllr David Baker
I fully understand the need to reduce expenditure but ways have to be found that will enable parishes (or clusters of parishes) to take on some of the work that in the future will not be undertaken by DCC. A small amount of money given to parishes would enable a number of the reductions to be carried out as long as some of the red tape is removed.
New projects obviously feature in this review, therefore some parishes are likely to find a local project scrapped in accordance with an “alien” priority system. In such cases it would be beneficial if the local council was allowed to contribute financially in order to save a project, which may well be considered to be of high priority locally. Can jeopardised projects be circulated to local councils to invite some sort of financial partnership ?