SWT Exmoor Area Panel
Thursday, 10th March, 2022 7.00 pm
Venue: Moorland Hall, Cutcombe
Contact: Sam Murrell
Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Margaret Rawle (Dulverton), Penny Webber (Selworthy & Minehead Without), Andrew Bray (Wootton Courtenay), Matthew Headley & Sarah Buchanan (Brompton Regis), Sally Moran (Clatworthy), Vivian White (Cutcombe), Christine Boland (Magna HA), Linda Brooks (ASP), Ruth MacArthur (ENP), SWT Cllr David Mansell.
(Minutes of the meeting of the Exmoor Area Panel meeting held on 13th January 2022 were circulated with the agenda)
RESOLVED that the minutes of the Exmoor Area Panel meeting held on 13th January 2022 were confirmed as a correct record.
Matters arising: -
· The large tree that was threatening the stability of the bridge at Withypool has been cleared and removed.
· The manholes at Chibbet Cross – this work is ongoing and moving towards a resolution hopefully soon.
· Programme of planned and reactive works (20mins) – Presentation by Neil Guild (Asset Manager) and Craig Gowan (Programme Engineer)
· Parish Online Technical Demonstration (10mins) - Adrian Lee
· Highway Steward Scheme – Andrew Turner
Exmoor Local Community Network (LCN) Pilot
Andrew Turner from SCC provided an update on the Exmoor Area Panel Pilot LCN. The pilot is one of 4 being trialled in Somerset, but the only pilot to be dealing with SCC highways matters.
The other pilot schemes are:
· Wincanton On the theme of Health and Wellbeing
· Frome and District Focussing on Children, Youth and Families
· Bridgwater Assets / Service devolution
More information about the LCNs and how they are developing can be found on the New Somerset Council website. This is regularly updated as the various projects are progressed.
The Exmoor Highways LCN Pilot has been given a time-limited discretionary budget for the 2022/23 Financial Year. The LCN can use this to fund small scale works that they have identified within the Exmoor area. At the present time the money allocated is £20k for revenue spend and £10k for capital works.
Programme of planned and reactive works – Presented by Neil Guild (Asset Manager) and Craig Gowan (Programme Engineer).
The programme of planned works was presented to the Exmoor Panel by Craig Gowan.
The programmed works related to surface dressing, footway maintenance, earthworks, and drainage. The county budget was between 14-16 million, with a priority on highways resurfacing. The programme covered the period from August 2022 to February 2023.
It was planned to hold quarterly meetings with the Contractor undertaking the works, to ensure discussion and formulate plans on the proposed diversion routes.
The report had been circulated prior to the meeting and comments from the floor included the following: -
· Diversion routes where road closures were required – could these be relayed as early as possible to employers, the tourist board, accommodation providers and Exmoor National Park? It was important that communication remained open, so that visitors could be forewarned and plan their routes into Exmoor accordingly.
· Utilities – who controls their work patterns? Is there any possibility they could be tied in with the scheduled Highways Works to take advantage of road closures and minimise general disruption to the road going public? i.e., Tie in tree felling, hedge trimming and gully clearance where the road is closed for surface dressing?
· 1-day diversions were not generally seen to be problematic, but anything longer than this caused a lot of disruption. This was largely due to signage still being in place after the work had finished, or when the contractor was no longer on site. Neil Guild advised that signs should be removed as soon as the works were completed. It was agreed that this could be one area of business for the Highways Steward to monitor.
· The point was raised that there must be better co-ordination of the routine maintenance programme, to ensure that work is carried out in the correct order. Gully maintenance is important when ploughing verges and as part of the drainage jetting programme. It makes more sense to carry out ploughing, gully maintenance and then finish with jetting, so as not to undo the previous work. ... view the full minutes text for item 28.
Parishes should use the online portal to report defects in the first instance. Emails or phone calls could be made in the event of an emergency.
Exford Road Collapse
The collapse of the road is caused by a complicated structural problem and is not easy to fix. There are H&S implications due to the location and inaccessibility issues. The ravine is extremely high, and the nature of the work is skilled beyond basic highway maintenance and will need bridges, structures, and geotechnical engineering support to carry out the repairs.
The required geotechnical survey has been expedited and Highways are waiting on the results before determining how to tackle the work. It is a complicated fix, but the works will hopefully be started in the summer.
Upton Road Closure
Ground penetrating radar has been used to identify the cause of the road subsidence. There is a culvert running under the road which neither Wessex Water Authority nor South West Water claim is their responsibility. This is compromising the stability of the road. A local civil engineering contractor has been employed by SCC to undertake the works before it deteriorates further. The heavy rainfall is contributing to the problem, so it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Upton Parish Council asked that the clerk is updated on the situation via email.
Magna Housing Association - Annual Housing Report
Christine Boland was unable to attend this meeting and sent her apologies. She has been re-scheduled to attend the June meeting.
Apologies were sent, but a report and newsletter were circulated prior to the meeting. Katherine Williams (PCSO Supervisor) has asked that parishes contact her direct if they have matters, they wish to discuss.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service
No representative in attendance.
Exmoor National Park Authority Issues
· The Glover Report
Disappointment was expressed that so far ENP does not appear to have consulted with the Hill Farming Network on its response to the Glover Report. In reply, it was pointed out that anyone can take part in the consultation regardless of whether they are an organisation, parish council and or an individual. They can do this independently and do not need to go through ENP to do so.
· Is ENP voting in new Somerset Parish Councillors following the election in May
The situation is not clear at present, but a decision will be made following the elections in May when it will be clear whether there a change of representatives is required.
Parish Lengthsman Scheme and Update
No current issues to report.
Items to be brought forward by Parishes
· Emergency Planning because of Storm Eunice.
It was asked whether the parishes would be updating their emergency planning strategies following learning from the recent storms. A number of homes had been without power for several days, and it was suggested that the purchase of a "community generator" might be a good idea. These could be used to keep refrigerators in the village shop from defrosting, provide emergency hubs with power so that residents could charge up mobile phones, keep warm and not be isolated.
There was praise for the response of the emergency services, Exmoor Search and Rescue and SWT/SCC in ensuring that vulnerable households that had been identified were supported. Wiveliscombe Fire Station had also set up an emergency hub to co-ordinate the response to the rural areas.
There was confusion around why certain parishes had waited several days for power to be restored, whilst others were only inconvenienced for a few hours. It was suggested that Western Power is written to, to find out if these delays are avoidable and what can be done to alleviate the situation if it was to happen again in the future. i.e., Was it purely because trees brought down the power cables?
· Attendance by PC Dan Cox – ASP Speed Awareness
Could this officer be invited to attend a future Panel meeting to talk about speed awareness?
Dates and venues for meetings going forward
Thursday 9 June 2022 at 7pm (Moorland Hall, Cutcombe)
Thursday 9 June 2022 (Moorland Hall, Cutcombe at 7pm)