Community Road Wardens trial pothole repairs
Posted on: 15 April 2016
Minor pothole repairs are being carried out by some of Devon’s Community Road Wardens in a number of pilot areas of the county.
Devon County Council launched its Community Road Warden scheme 18 months ago to enable communities to do a wide range of highway work for themselves, which the County Council can no longer do due to reduced levels of funding.
The initiative builds on the already successful schemes in place for public rights of way and the county’s Snow Wardens. It enables a Road Warden to act as the highways “Champion”, providing support in their local area in accessing highway information and in organising and carrying out minor work such as weed clearance, grass cutting, sign cleaning and small drainage work.
To ensure that they can work safely on the highway, the County Council has provided free training for around 60 volunteers nominated by Parish and Town Councils over the past year, with another 27 on the waiting list or booked for training. The training enables volunteers to sign up to the Road Warden scheme, which provides County Council third party liability cover for properly completed volunteer work and recommends communities to provide their own personal injury insurance cover for their volunteers.
To demonstrate that “self-help” can work for fixing minor potholes in roads, six town and parish council volunteers who are part of the County Council’s Community Road Warden scheme, have agreed to take part in a trial where they will be provided with the tools and material to fill minor defects on their local roads.
The County Council has provided Road Wardens in Bradford and Cookbury, Clyst Hydon, Plymtree, Sidmouth and Broadclyst with a simple-to-use pothole repair material, Instarmac, to patch up small potholes in their parishes and towns.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, is Road Warden for Sidmouth and is among those taking part in the trial.
He said: “These trials are an important step forward for this scheme and if successful it could be rolled out to all of the Community Road Wardens who want to carry out this additional maintenance work. Our materials laboratory has carried out a thorough test of the Instarmac material and it is well used by other highways authorities. A number of parishes have asked to help repair potholes and the wardens taking part in this trial are all keen to help us develop this pioneering initiative.
“We’ve all been shown how to carry out the repairs with the material and it seems to be a quick and easy way to deal with smaller potholes on minor roads before they develop into safety defects which the County Council has to repair. There are many good examples of local communities working with us to help themselves, as our budgets from central Government are continuing to be reduced every year. The Road Wardens are not replacing County Council staff and their role is to help with more minor maintenance work that we can no longer do.”
Richard Tift, Community Road Warden for Plymtree, said: “We’re very lucky in Plymtree that we have quite a few volunteers willing to help out. What we can offer is labour and time, and filling potholes is simple enough so we thought we would give it a go. But filling potholes is only part of it, as there’s also drainage work, sign cleaning and other maintenance work.”
Andrew Cook, Plymtree Parish Council Chairman, said: “The paperwork and courses have taken a bit of time but the villagers are all eager and we have at least 10 people willing to help with this work. We want to look after the community and take pride in our village by keeping the place clean and tidy. The idea is to fill the potholes before they get too big and become major safety issues that can do damage, so that hopefully they won’t need a full repair. A stitch in time saves nine.”
Barry Thrussell, Community Road Warden for Clyst Hydon, said: “I think it will be a good scheme once we really get going. The idea has gone down very well and the material is good. We’re also trying to encourage everyone to work together, by asking residents to report potholes online on the council’s website.”
Mark Smale, Community Road Warden for Bradford and Cookbury, said: “The motivation for me was that we only have unclassified roads for miles in all directions, and the road warden scheme sounded like a potential solution to the problem of potholes on our minor roads, when we don’t have many options. Filling the potholes with the material isn’t a problem. The training makes you aware of the hazards and you have to have a common sense attitude and take sensible precautions.”
Roger Beer, Community Road Warden in Broadclyst, said: “I already do some work for the parish, tidying up the footpaths and the area around the pavilion, so this is another little job for the parish. I worked on the roads for 43 years but retired at 60 and this keeps me active.”
Repair of larger potholes that meet the safety defect criteria and other safety defect repairs on the highway will continue to be carried out by Devon County Council.
Road wardens will be covered by Devon County Council’s third party public liability insurance and will be able to use tools provided by the County Council. They will act as their town or parish’s primary point of contact with the County Council’s local Neighbourhood Highway Officers.
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