‘Difficult decisions’ ahead in latest highways cuts


- Credit: Archant

Hedge cutting, pothole repairs and road sign cleaning could become the responsibility of volunteers if cost-saving measures proposed by the county council are given the go-ahead.

Communities could also be made responsible for things like re-stocking their own grit bins and weed spraying, under cutbacks to highways services being considered by Devon County Council (DCC).

The changes are part of a wider package of savings, which include job losses, fewer rural roads being salted in freezing weather and a reduction in the frequency of drain clearing.

Part of the proposals include the ‘road warden’ scheme, which DCC hopes will reduce costs by encouraging communities to work with the council to carry out minor maintenance work.

Volunteers would be nominated by town and parish councils and would receive training from DCC.

The council has already slashed its highways budget by more than £18million since 2010, but is now faced with cutting a further £3.4million by 2016.

The highways cuts form part of a total £100million in savings required by 2017, due to austerity measures handed down by central government.

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Councillor Stuart Hughes, DCC highways chief, said: “The county council’s reduced budgets means that every service area of the council is affected, including highways. The Government is reducing revenue funding year on year, and we’re facing massive pressure on our budgets.

“There are some very difficult decisions that need to be made and we’re looking at a number of options, but we want to receive feedback from people and we’re keen to hear their ideas.”

The authority has launched a nine-week consultation on the proposed changes, which will run until Friday, December 5.

Cllr Hughes added: “This is an opportunity for the public to give us their view on the proposals, how they feel this will impact on them, and what alternatives they would suggest.”

Information on the proposals can be found at www.toughchoices.co.uk

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