Agenda item

Exmoor LCN Highways Subgroup Update

To include:-


·         An update on the B3224 Roundwater, Cutcombe capital scheme.


·         An update on the Devolved Funding Jetting Schemes






Clarification was sought on a Government funding headline which stated that 8 billion pounds was earmarked for repairing potholes. Kali Martin advised that the figure was misleading, as it was to be implemented over 11 years and was shared across the south of England including London. (This had been earmarked for 2.8 billion alone).The calculations on how the sum would be distributed would be determined on the length of the road networks in each county. It was very much a headline figure and the reality would be very different.

The Roundwaters scheme has started and will be monitored and updated regularly. Weekly updates were going to be circulated, and it was asked if they could be sent to the Link Officer for wider distribution. The first couple of weeks had seen the BT masts moved, vegetation clearance completed and Walters (the contractor) move their logistical equipment to the site. They had also carried out preparatory work at the base of the ravine. This would involve diverting the watercourse and carrying out water protection measures. There were some signage issues reported but these were picked up very quickly by Ross and dealt with accordingly.

Cllr Pugsley commented that he hoped another public meeting update would take place in February, but in the meantime the team would do their best to get out regular updates.

Cllr Ellicott said that he was aware there were some issues with the aggregates expected by the landowners (Tuckers), and this had not gone as smoothly as hoped for.

There had been some incidents with vehicles trying to access the smaller “no access” roads, and getting stuck, and the Highways team were keeping a close eye on it. They would review any closures or signage and tweak as necessary.

The Winter Maintenance situation is tricky due to ageing gritters and the high demand for pothole repairs. This reactive maintenance caused by the wet followed by freezing weather (creating potholes) has caused the planned maintenance programmes to fall behind schedule.  Potholes have to be repaired as a matter of urgency but there are currently 1100 outstanding reports on the portal.

With the demand this creates, coupled with the need for the drivers to work within working time guidelines, it has impacted on other highway service areas.

The aging gritter fleet has caused problems due to breakdowns, and the team are doing their best to grit/salt the green routes within the capability of what machinery is available. They are also doing their best to source other gritters and equipment and approaches are bring made to the rural community by the contractor (Milestone) to assist if possible. The situation was described as “tenuous” with the hope that really severe weather (snow) was not predicted at present. The team would be monitoring the weather forecasts very closely over the coming weeks, and if necessary gritting in anticipation of the cold temperatures.

Some other issues were mentioned specific to Skilgate and Timberscombe, but these were to be picked up outside of the meeting. Timberscombe, once again, requested an update from Highways regarding the remedial work which needs to be undertaken in Great House Street. Highways responded that they have yet to read the survey undertaken in September.

Salt bags were to be dropped in Timberscombe and Hawkridge as a remedial short-term fix for flooding/freezing on the Highway. Kali Martin agreed to follow this up outside of the meeting.

The Chair formally thanked Kevin and Kali for their frank and honest report about the winter maintenance service, and highlighting the challenges currently faced.

The devolved funding jetting scheme has been mostly completed and feedback was requested. (There are still a few parishes awaiting a visit, but this was due to the sub-contractor being pulled away on emergency response work).

In the main, there had been mixed feedback from the respective parishes. They unanimously agreed that the work was of a satisfactory standard and well received. The main concern was ongoing maintenance and the fact that there was still a lot of work outstanding. It was unlikely this was all going to be completed as the budget was limited. Christine Dubery was formally thanked for all her hard work in getting this work delivered and liaising with the sub-contractor and highway wardens.

It was agreed that when the final jetting requests had been signed off, Sam Murrell and Christine Dubery would liaise on collating the various reports and feed them back to the Highways team. Any issues that were beyond the scope of the jetting operative could be picked up and assessed at a later date.

Sam and Christine also agreed to assess the project and discuss what had worked well for the Exmoor LCN devolved funding. A report would be handed back to the Highways subgroup for comment, and then forwarded onto the LCN team. The Chair acknowledged that this had been a very useful collective exercise, and provided an example of what the LCN could administer when one parish council agreed to act as a collator of funds. (In this case Dulverton Town Council).


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