Consultation 2013 (closed)

The proposals

Reduce locally determined highway drainage and cleaning activities carried out by Parish Lengthsmen

Parish Lengthsmen currently visit each Parish four times a year to undertake locally determined highway drainage and cleaning activities. In addition to this, an annual clean of drainage features such as grips and easements, and hand-cleaning of gullies, is currently undertaken. It is proposed to make the annual clean the main part of the Lengthsmen duties leaving significantly less time for locally determined highway drainage and cleaning activities.

Current spending: £937,000
Proposed saving: £550,000

Review gully emptying schedules to concentrate more on problem gullies

Under current policy, all highway drainage gullies are routinely cleaned annually. The proposal is to identify locations where gullies do not normally need cleaning annually and introduce a less frequent cleaning programme in those areas. Current budgets and policies allow for more frequent cleaning of identified ‘problem’ locations and this would continue.

Current spending: £1.730m
Proposed saving: £330,000

Stop specialist tree surveying on trees on privately owned land close to, but not on the highway

Regular specialist surveys are carried out of trees that are capable of falling on the highway, including trees on private land close to the highway which are the responsibility of the landowner. Where there is an imminent danger to the public, or if the landowner is unable to be identified, essential work is carried out by the County Council.

It is proposed that future surveys and tree maintenance work should be limited to trees within the limits of the highway, for which the County Council is responsible.

Highway Safety Inspectors would continue to identify any obvious signs of a danger to public safety in the course of their highway inspections, and the landowners would be notified.

Current spending: £620,000
Proposed saving: £300,000

Stop routine renewal of non-essential road markings

It is proposed that routine renewal and replacement of advisory road markings would no longer take place. Renewal of road markings and studs would only be undertaken if there is an identified safety issue. Regulatory markings would also be reviewed before being replaced to make sure they are still required.

Current spending: £1.186m
Annual saving: £186,000

Only repair streetlights when two or more lights become faulty

The County Council’s contractor is currently required to respond to all reports of street lighting faults and repair them within a specific timescale. It is proposed that reports of faults with an individual street light would no longer be responded to. The report would be noted and the contractor would only be required to respond when two or more lights become faulty in a street.

Current spending: £4.334m
Proposed saving: £270,000

Stop cutting grass verges on minor roads (except for safety reasons)

Currently in rural areas, a one metre strip of verge alongside the carriageway is cut once or twice a year depending on the road category. It is proposed that this regular cutting would no longer take place on the minor road network. Verge cutting for visibility purposes at road junctions and on bends would continue, as would a full width verge cut every third year on more important local roads.

Current spending: £1.358m
Proposed saving: £200,000

Stop annual routine cleaning of cattle grids

Currently cattle grids are routinely cleaned annually. It is proposed that this regular cleaning would no longer take place. Cattle grids would continue to be inspected as part of the highway safety inspection process and any necessary works identified.

Current spending: £218,000
Proposed saving: £82,000

Stop providing free stiles and gates to landowners with a public right of way and reduce vegetation clearance on more paths

Currently the County Council provides furniture such as stiles and kissing gates to landowners for them to install, to help maintain use of the PROW (Public Rights of Way) network. It is proposed that this service would no longer be available, and the County Council would only make the statutory financial contribution (one quarter of the cost) towards new furniture. Spending on regular vegetation clearance on lesser used ‘remote’ routes would be reduced.

Current spending: £658,000
Proposed saving: £65,000

Stop maintenance of variable message road signs and remove when they become defective

The County Council’s network of variable message signs provides information to road users on major routes and in larger urban areas on incidents and events affecting their journey. They are also used to convey road safety and travel information. It is proposed that the maintenance contract for these signs be terminated, and the signs removed as and when they fail to operate.

Current budget: £43,000
Proposed saving: £43,000

44 comments on “The proposals

  1. David Thompson |

    Questionaire structure discourages completion. To have to complete gender, postcode, disability etc for each proposal is over complicated, rather like local government.
    You are to be congratulated, however, in conducting a survey. We are limited to voting on your proposals, some of which save very little.
    Turning off every other street light, removing redundant road signs, deploying smaller buses rather than the massive double deckers that struggle on our narrow roads and are normally mostly empty

  2. Tim Bishop |

    There are far too many signs on our roads which, presumably incur costs for manufacture, erection etc., Road users should be made more responsible for their actions.

  3. Peter Le Marechal |

    Get the long term out of work to do more community work for there dole etc

  4. ROBERT NEED |

    Seems like inevitable decisions have already been made and consultation is but a paper exercise.

  5. Alexis Lykiard |

    Your questionnaire came into my inbox today which means you have given me one day only to respond to most of these detailed questions. This is not exactly good consultation!

  6. Jan Whittington |

    Roadside verges should be managed for wildlife and increased biodiversity. They should only be cut where safety is an issue and then only enough to allow visibility not cut the whole verge. Margins against hedgerows are important habitats for many species including reptiles and gloworms and should be maintained.

  7. peter datson |

    For me, I am lucky not to need everything offered as I can still drive. My wife uses the bus pass every day. I use it when I go to the pub and dont want to drive. I lived in Holland for 30 years and drove a 12 seat mercedes as volunteer for locally in the country. I had to stop when I got colon cancer, I retired at 60 and If you were over 60 you could get a daypass (only on the busses for 3 euros) anywhere.Holland is a country where recession is also hitting living standards,but a very fair land where you dont have so big a difference in rich and poor as here. I could’nt resist that.

  8. Jack Earnshaw |

    Highways, environmental services, transport and similar services are always the easy target when trying to find cost savings (I know, as I was the cabinet member for these services on another unitary authority). The priority always seems to be to protect “Social Services”, “Education” and “Culture”. The services that really identify the Council with residents are rubbish collection and disposal, cemeteries, highways, transport. But always take the main hit, despite being a relatively small part of the budget.

  9. PALLAS WILLIAMS |

    It makes sense to reduce these services with such a large amount of money to be saved.
    Others should take more responsibility for these services, like private land owners or farmers.

  10. Laurence Shelley |

    An excellent consultation but rather laboriously constructed. Having to return to the proposals page each time is an unnecessary contrivance and annoying. My main concerns are the road safety issues that would arise from anticipated cuts, with the particular nature of Devon’s roads and lanes in mind. The fall of leaves in Autumn can be a prime cause of accidents, especially when flash flooding occurs, so regular inspections at this time of gullies and drains are of paramount importance.

  11. Chris Evans |

    I started commenting on your proposals as you have asked but the web site is not continuous and each answer submitted closes the web site down. Having completed 3 questions and having to repeatedly revert to the original email I lost the will to live and gave up.

  12. Maureen Cunningham |

    I only received this email today and the closing date for consultation is tomorrow. Not enough consultation on such as important issue. I haven’t seen any information in the local press about this Differcult choices but with council tax standing still I don’t think that DCC has any choices when funding is dicated by an uncaring national government..

  13. Graham Long |

    The road through Smeatharpe, between Honiton and Taunton, floods in periods of heavy rain due to field run off, blocked gullies and an ageing surface water pipe system which has sunk in places causing debris to build up blocking the pipe (SWH data). There should be no reduction in the cleaning of such gullies or road flooding and property flooding in periods of heavy rain will increase.

  14. Richard Horne |

    This is a good way of consulting the public, although I would be interested to know how you got hold of my email address?
    The proposals you have put together shows a detailed assessment of current services and gives some sensible options for change – although some would seem short sighted and retrograde, many should be supported,
    I agree with the comment already made about ‘street clutter’, the matrix signs fall into this category. The information they give is either meaningless rhetoric or out of date, useful stuff is almost always available elsewhere.

  15. Anthony West |

    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: disagree
    Stop maintenance of variable message road signs: agree

  16. Christopher Adams. |

    Fast motor travel is a luxury and cuts that call for drivers to be more careful, diligent and considerate reflect the times.
    Public transport is an essential for an increasing number of people and if the cost of maintaining the public transport services is a requirement for motorists to be inconvenienced then that is a small price pay.
    In Devon we have too many minor roads that are maintained at great expense for very few people. Why are there no questions in this survey on opinions on the benefits on allowing many of these little used minor roads to become redundant.
    Turning off street lights at midnight is a very obvious way to save money.

  17. K. Waterman. |

    Road users should be charged the full cost both labour and materials when road signs and barriers are damaged in any accident.

    New curb stones should not be introduced in rural areas, i.e small lane on outskirts of Avonwick.

  18. Patrick May |

    turn off street lights at midnight
    dispense with the plethora of signs
    up the age for bus passes (nationally) or restrict them to those on a low income, those on pension credit?

  19. Brian Fentiman |

    I would suggest that each and every proposal to reduce the costs of what is existing is going back in time. Devon is a major tourist county, which should mean setting a standard. I would suggest that if the proposals take place, then Devon will look more like the Greek islands with roads and such matters in both the towns and county looking like rubbish tips. If a farmer or landowner legal owns the ditch, fence etc and its proven then that’s a different matter and he should pay for the cost of such works

    If Devon CC wish to save monies, then I would suggest the following:-
    1) reduce the salaries of the higher executives and many of the managers below , to being paid for they are worth and actually contribute rather than sit on the backs of their officers below them who do most if not all of the works required.
    2) stop the expenses involved with any twin cities visits, which as the TV programme showed is a waste of time and just a holiday for executives and councillors at rate payers cost.
    3) get tougher on tenants who damage property and dont pay their rents on time or ever, Be tougher on persons claiming housing benefits when they are actually working or as with many elderly persons have moved their savings in order to obtain housing benefits etc
    4) cut out all the long tea breaks etc and mobile phone times taken by all staff especially the operatives seen out side working and carrying out repairs etc. and ensure that they all work in- accordance with man hours acceptable for the work in question.

    I would welcome these points being put before your senior exc for consideration before these cuts are imposed.

  20. Gill Edwards |

    Use local contractors to reduce costs. DCC maintenance teams appear to be overmanned and therefore unnecessarily expensive.

  21. Malcolm Ketteridge |

    All these proposed cuts need to be reversed as soon as possible.
    I have no objection to paying more council tax provided the services paid for a properly audited.
    The community deserves a high quality of public services.
    Privatization is no answer as competition would drive the quality services down owing to the need for profit to be made by commercial organizations.

  22. David Snell |

    1. Any restriction on LOCAL bus pass holders is not acceptable.
    2. In view of recent increases in flooding very careful consideration should be given to any reduction in gully emptying.
    3. I totally agree with another comment regarding street lighting. There are many instances of it being excessive both in intensity and timing.

  23. Janette Evans |

    I agree with the cost saving proposals in the main and think further costs could be made by reduce lighting in rural areas – we do not need lighting after 10 pm. The polluton attributed to wasted street lighting is enormous and such a waste of money – in our town alone we do not need the lighting in many roads – we have torches.

    Do not resurface byways or little used roads. If they dont lead to properties they could become byways or footpaths -recently you have resurfaced the byway from Barnecourt to North Bovey – not used by traffic so why is it resurfaced?

  24. R.LOCKYEAR |

    No one likes cuts of any sort – we always want more services not less but right now this country cannot afford to do any more than is absolutely necessary for us. Local and District Councils cannot be immune to this and as long as the cuts do not have too much effect on our daily lives then they have to be made. As long as councils are not seen to waste money in other directions then the public should support them. Councillors expenses should also be closely monitored and published in the local press on a monthly basis.

  25. B,LLOYD |

    Seems to be sensible proposals to the problems faced.

  26. CLYDE MILLS |

    In general I feel that the proposals are a sensible response to the need to make cuts in expenditure and hope that the reduction in activity and supervisiory requirements can be matched by a reduction in staffing at County Hall.

  27. Peter Bartlett |

    While it may seem a just action to set these proposals, the true facts are that the public have had enough of cuts to services, when M.P.s can have a 11percent increase, the public will respond to the poor record that has been the pattern in the past years in Devon

  28. Seabrook |

    I think there is a clear division in what is sensible in a city/town environment and what is needed in a rural environment. I support most of the proposals in principle, as long as they are not unilaterally imposed without thought to the location. Actions required on private land should be paid for by the land owners, where identified, particularly where lack of action has endangered the public.

  29. Alan Marshall |

    There is far too much street furniture, unnecessary signs etc. Here the speed limit on the A379 is 40mph. A roadside camera regularly has people in my rear view mirror stamping on their brake to fall to 30mph. If they can’t read the signs giving them the speed limit what chance is there of them absorbing anything else?!

  30. Derrick Debenham |

    Reduce the road network by closing unused minor roads and making them cycle/footpaths.
    Reduce maintenance costs by making some roads cul-de-sacs.
    Turn alternate street lights off at midnight.
    Make farmers responsible for run-off

  31. HONITON TOWN COUNCIL |

    In principle, Honiton Town Council objects to all the proposals as being shortsighted and believes that to go back on the progress that has been made would be a retrograde step.

  32. Catherine Bass |

    As co-ordinator, I am responding on behalf of the Blackdown Hills Parish Network (BHPN) The BHPN comprises a group of rural parishes with at least a 10% footprint within the Blackdown Hills AONB. Twenty-three parishes fall under DCC LAs (EDDC and MDDC), the remaining eleven are Somerset parishes (TDBC and SSC). The BHPN has recently responded to the BH AONB’s draft management plan for 2014- 2019 and relevant comments from that consultation are shared here.
    We recognise that these responses are not directly relevant to the very specific items in the DCC Highways Budget Review, however we are very keen to ensure that whatever decisions are made, these should be in consultation with all available organisations and groups. In areas such as this, which include county boundaries, decisions need to complement those of neighbouring counties. Mention is made in the BHPN response to the AONB of the as yet unresolved issue of A303 vs A358 upgrade and these are Govt./Highways Agency issues, however the consequences of those decisions will fall to Local Authorities and therefore these views need to be considered.
    Below is the relevant draft AONB Draft Management Plan 2014-2019 Aim followed by the submitted response of the BHPN Traffic Transport and Highways group.

    AONB PROPOSED AIM FOR 2019: The road system is well maintained and in keeping with the unspoilt rural landscape of the AONB.

    BHPN SUBMITTED RESPONSE: In the light of the suggested cuts in Highways maintenance in Devon, it would be more appropriate to be suggesting that AONB and stakeholders should aim for no further reduction in quality and maintenance of the road network, during the five year period of the plan, using all available means.
    Routes across the AONB are frequently used as short cuts by through traffic, affecting both tranquillity and the environment. Lorries and other large vehicles
    travelling to and from farms and small businesses along small lanes cause noise, risk to other users and damage to the roads, verges and hedgebanks.
    MISSING altogether is a central aim to encourage Govt to take the A303 issue in hand, to consult and act to prevent further problems on the narrow lanes which are dangerously overpopulated, not only by delivery vehicles accessing local businesses, but by traffic having NO business in the AONB, esp when traffic on major arterial routes is diverted due to accidents etc. With no objective relating to arterial routes, either the A303 which bisects the AONB, nor the others flanking it to the east and north in very close proximity, there is no statutory document currently consulted which could discourage the use of shortcuts/rat-runs across the Hills on unsuitable roads simply to access the alternate arterial roads.

    AONB PROPOSE: Work with highways authorities to implement traffic management techniques to reduce traffic volume and speed on minor roads to provide a safer environment for walking, cycling and horse riding.

    SUBMITTED RESPONSE:Need AGREED traffic management techniques to reduce traffic volume and speed across the Blackdown Hills. Suggested Actions include some assurance and acknowledgement that the AONB parishes are involved in the process of informing, influencing, ensuring, seeking and investigating implicit in the stated actions, in order to be inclusive and possibly more successful.

  33. Alan Jones |

    Just tell me how much less you will take from my council Tax when you have stopped all these services

  34. Tom Boucher |

    Drainage cleaning and gully emptying: Sensible policy to reduce cleaning at locations where it is not needed. However, gully cleaning and gate underpass pipe cleaning is currently inadequate. Many springs and field run-offs are causing gullys to overflow and large amounts of running water in the roads, in turn causing many pot-holes to appear. Freezing then causes a very dangerous condition particularly in the steep Blackdown Hills.

    Stop tree surveying: Sensible

    Road marking renewals: Acceptable if it has to be.

    Street light repairs: Not applicable in most rural areas.

    Verge grass cutting: Sensible

    Cattle grid cleaning: Sensible

    Stop free stiles and gates: Acceptable as DCC have already done an excellent job of providing these across the county.

    Stop maintenance of variable message road signs: Crazy, bearing in mind the small saving and the large amount already spent on their installation.

  35. Greg Wall & John King |

    South Brent Parish Council has asked us to consider this matter on their behalf and our comments are
    – that reducing either lengthsmen time or gully emptying would be counter-productive since both operations help to prevent flooding which in an area of high rainfall causes considerable local problems. Heavy rainfall sees roads converted to rivers.
    – the proposals for street lighting might well be possible in urban areas but in rural communities where ther are fewer street light, to wait could well be an added danger to the safety of all road users.
    – the other proposals are probably inevitable though regrettable.

  36. Jane Lane |

    Thorverton Parish Council supports retention of the Parish Lengthsman service at present levels, as the work the lengthsman carries out is considered to be important in reducing local flooding risks and other problems.

    Re. the proposal to stop routine renewal of non-essential road markings, if the proposal is carried forward,the Council asks for clarification as to which road markings are considered advisory /non-essential, and also asks to be consulted when road markings need repainting.

  37. Philip Talbot |

    The proposals set out in your Highways Budget Consultation Review were considered at a meeting of Stoodleigh Parish Council last evening as a result of which I have been asked to submit the following comments.

    Parish lengthsmen. There was concern that drainage is one of the biggest problems affecting rural roads and that if drains are not kept clear this will only worsen the condition of the roads. Farmers need to be encouraged to address drainage issues to prevent soil being washed onto the roads.

    Gully emptying. These proposals were considered sensible.

    Specialist Tree Surveys. These proposals were considered sensible.

    Renewal of non essential road markings. These proposals were considered sensible.

    Repair of street lights. Not applicable in this parish.

    Grass cutting. Not applicable in this parish but these proposals were considered sensible.

    Cattle grids. Not applicable in this parish.

    Provision of free styles and clearance of public paths. The proposal not to provide furniture to land owners was not supported as it was considered that landowners are unlikely to carry out this work. The proposals with regard to path clearance were considered sensible.

    Maintenance of variable message road signs. These signs are considered to be of value to road users compared to the minimal potential saving (and having regard to the significant investment in the signs) and the possible danger to road users.

    Phil Talbot
    Chairman, Stoodleigh Parish Council

  38. Clare Eastland |

    Further savings could be made by turning off street lights at midnight in most locations, except perhaps town centres, this would enable people to see the stars and also help wildlife.
    Managing grass verges for wildlife, reducing cutting and involving local people could also save costs.

  39. R Eley |

    The Traffic Management Unit should abandon the current practice of ALWAYS diverting traffic from an ‘A’ road onto another ‘A’ road irrespective of the distances and practicalities involved. A more flexible and common sense approach should be adopted.
    Clearly, it is not appropriate to send HGVs along country lanes, but there is often a perfectly serviceable ‘B’ road available. The current routing arrangements are costly, since greater diversionary distances are involved, and cause unnecessary delays and confusion to the road-user.
    The Traffic Management Unit should also require utility companies to work with greater intensity during road closures. This again will reduce delays and costs. Too often, there are only two or three workers on site, and sometimes none at all.
    Discussions between the TMU and utility companies often involve several meetings and there are usually four or five officers present. This seems unnecessarily time-consuming and costly.
    The TMU is sadly deficient in local knowledge and could save a lot of time and money by simply contacting parish councils or the relevant County Councillor. They will normally have a better idea of how to effectively re-route traffic.
    Generally speaking, diversions are very badly organised, and this appears to stem from over-adherence to procedure and policy. A common sense and practical approach would be very cost-effective.
    Even the workmen putting out the diversion signs agree with the above!

  40. M Green |

    Immediately start closing some of the minor roads and turning them into cycle paths, bridleways & footpaths
    Some of them could be gated, which would encouraged motorists to take an alternative route
    Residents on small lanes may well enjoy the peace and quiet afforded by gated roads – They may well be glad to open and close a gate as a price to pay to reduce the traffic
    Alternatively put a barrier halfway (or as appropriate) along them and turn them into cul-de-sacs
    All this would reduce maintenance costs considerably

  41. Simon Major |

    The tree owners are responsible for the trees. It is good that DCC have some system to notify private tree owners of the occasional very high risk trees that DCC may have become aware of. But the recent publicly-funded, systematic surveying of private trees throughout Devon has been over and above DCC’s remit under the Highways Act or as directed by any court.
    Furthermore, DCC’s recent system of surveying trees only looks for hazards, no matter how low the risk. This has resulted in immense amounts of survey data, increasing DCC’s survey and admin costs and has resulted in thousands of very low-risk private and public-owned trees being unnecessarily felled or cut.

  42. Stuart Heslop |

    Another saving idea – dispense with the relatively recent use of a person on a quad bike ‘escorting’ road users past road works when temporary traffic lights are in use. The operative’s wages can be saved (or used on a productive task); the quad bike sold and its running costs saved. Every driver knows what traffic lights are for; inattentive drivers will not be made attentive just because there is a quad bike a few vehicles in front of him. If the aim is to keep speed down then use cones to make the available road seem narrower.

  43. Diane Webley |

    Contractors/ farmers should be made responsible for clearing the debris from hedge cutting from the highways as drains and ditches frequently become blocked with it. There should be a map of the locality of Budddle holes making their clearance easier.Farms should be responsible for run off from field entrances, this often causes drain blockages.

  44. Robert Wootton |

    The proposals seem to be to carry out maintenance when there is a risk to public or road safety, This would be acceptable if and only if, regular monitoring/inspections are scheduled.
    These inspections should take into account the time between the current inspection and the next inspection.
    An assessment whether the item under inspection will become a risk to road or public safety before the next inspection is due and the lead time when a maintenance is authorised and carried out.
    In other words, maintenance should be timely and preventative of future capital expenditure caused by insufficient maintenance of the infrastructure.

    Regarding absentee landlords of land with dangerous trees overhanging the highway,perhaps a compulsory purchase order may be in order. But removal of a dangerous tree could be done and a lien put on the land for the cost of removal.