Parish lengthsman scheme
In the 1960's increasing mechanisation and labour costs led many local authorities to move away from locally based maintenance activities. As a result, Lengthsmen disappeared, taking with them the knowledge of the local highway network, and the trust and understanding built up with many residents in their local area.
In December 2002, as a direct response to increasing numbers of minor road maintenance requests from residents, five parish councils in Worcestershire were invited to take part in a Lengthsman trial giving them greater responsibility and a budget for dealing with the highways priorities that mattered in their communities.
The trial proved to be a resounding success and, as a result, the scheme has now been rolled out to 90 per cent of the parishes in Worcestershire.
Each parish is given an amount each year, which is calculated based on the length of road within its boundary. Jobs undertaken include the clearing of gully gates, digging out of blocked gullies, removal of vegetation, cleaning of signs and hand gritting of footways/carriageways using County Council grit bins.
In short, the Parish Lengthsman scheme is all about doing the little things that matter to communities – today, and show how local people have the right knowledge to do what their communities really want done and when they want it done.
Here's what people have been saying...
“Our lengthsman has dealt with all the jobs mentioned by residents other than those outside his remit. He has been a good PR man for both the Parish and County Councils."
- Hanley Castle Parish, Clerk Ann Canham, 2003.
“Councillors and residents have expressed their thanks for clearing small floods and footpaths and having clean signs. They say it is nice to see problems sorted out quickly. The scheme has proved popular with residents who want it to continue. The Parish Council considers it to be successful with one benefit being that residents can now talk directly to a Parish Council representative whom they see most days. Recent heavy rains have brought Martley in sharp contrast with adjacent parishes with respect to the amount of flooding; other parishes had considerable problems.”
- Martley Parish, Clerk Tom Pearsall, 2003.
"A very successful scheme."
- Chaddesley Corbett Parish, Yvonne Scriven, 2011.
"Thank you very much for organising this scheme, it is a huge asset to the Parish Council."
- Ripple Parish, Lorna Gower, 2011.
"Grimley Parish are absolutely delighted with the mechanics and administration of the Lengthsman Scheme. The Lengthsman, appointed on an annual contrast, is a super young man, very personable, capable, interested and polite to one and all. Following initial contact from the Parish Council, he is happy to liaise with parishioners, respond quickly to local emergencies – flash flooding, drain damage from HGVs etc and be adaptable.
WCC are now fairly flexible with the Scheme providing that the Lengthsman has undertaken relevant training, e.g. Parish Councils are now allowed to mow visibility splays on highway land more frequently, in appropriate circumstances hire and claim costs for a skip for removal of verge / drainage debris and the Lengthsman can move around and record traffic numbers from the Vehicle Activated Signs. These are all additions to the Scheme over recent years.
The administrations works well; provided that the Lengthsman monthly timesheet has been checked and submitted to WCC by the 16th of the month, costs are repaid by bank transfer at the end of that month. Perhaps we are particularly fortunate, here is a win, win, win situation."
- Grimley Parish, Susan Hughes, 2012.
"We are aware that our allocation has now been reduced, it does seem reasonable that smaller parishes have somewhat less grant than larger parishes and we certainly expect to be able to do all our work within this new limit.
The Scheme has been extremely successful in Rushock and all the residents appreciate the benefits which the Lengthsman Scheme has brought about. Thank you also for the positive way in which you manage it."
- Rushock Parish, Pauline Trimble, 2012.
"The Scheme has proved very successful in our Parish and the work completed by our Lengthsman has had a positive impact."
- Norton-Juxta- Kempsey Parish, Jane Greenway, 2012.
"We think the lengthsman scheme is excellent. The relationship works well, we email our lengthsman with issues in the local area that we notice or residents make a complaint to us about and he goes along and carries out the work for us which keeps our residents happy. The way in which we claim reimbursement works efficiently too."
- Wythall Parish, Kerie Harris, 2012.
"We signed up to the scheme in July 2010 and since then have received many complimentary comments from parishioners who have noticed the improved appearance of certain areas in our group of three parishes. It's great to know that we have someone 'on call' to attend to blocked drains and gullies, problems with signage and rights of way etc. The scheme itself is very straightforward to administer and is a great way to devolve responsibility from the County Council with the minimum of fuss."
- Stoke Bliss, Kyre and Bockleton Parish, Louise Gibbs, 2012.