‘Road warden’ scheme could become a national flagship

Road improvements have started on a busy route through Wraxall.

Road improvements have started on a busy route through Wraxall. - Credit: Archant

The head of an organisation representing the country’s councils has welcomed plans which would see volunteers made responsible for routine highways maintenance.

Ken Browse, chairman of The National Association of Local Councils, hopes that the ‘road warden’ scheme announced by Devon County Council (DCC) earlier this month could become a national flagship.

The cost-cutting measures, championed by DCC highways chief Councillor Stuart Hughes, would see volunteers from town and parish councils trained in tasks including hedge cutting, minor pothole repairs and road sign cleaning.

Cllr Hughes said: “There is massive pressure on our highways service which means we can no longer do as many of the minor highways work on our roads as frequently as we would like, such as sign cleaning and grass cutting.

“Our budget is being spread extremely thinly across the network.

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“We need to find a different approach by calling on the help of local communities and we’re looking to respond positively to offers of help that we’ve received from local communities.

“Having reflected on some successful self-help schemes already completed we have developed a scheme to enable our communities to work with us - we want to empower communities to take local action.”

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He added that the road wardens would not replace DCC staff, but could provide communities with ‘an additional resource to that organise and carry out work that the authority is unable to do’.

The county 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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