Pioneering Highways Devolution Pilot Scheme launched with Essex Parish and Town Councils

Politics / Tue 18th Jun 2019 pm30 04:58pm

Pioneering Highways Devolution Pilot Scheme Launched with Essex Parish and Town Councils

AN innovative highways scheme which devolves decision-making closer to local communities has been jointly launched by Essex County Council (ECC), the Essex Association of Local Councils (EALC) and West Bergholt Parish Council (WBPC).

The scheme, launched on Friday, 14th June, will help Parish and Town Councils across Essex to improve their areas based on the local community’s knowledge and needs.

Focused on lower-level works such as verge and vegetation work, traffic sign maintenance and minor footway repairs, the scheme will allow local councils to improve the street scene quicker than the County Council can.

This will in turn enable the County Council to prioritise the larger, more complex highways work such as road surfacing, that has a wider impact.

The scheme will run as a pilot until February 2020 and will be reviewed as it progresses so that partners can improve it with a view to wider adoption in future.

Councillor Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “Devolution is very important to us at Essex County Council. This pilot, which we are supporting with funding, is about getting decision-making as close to the public as we can for works which are important locally, but not of a top priority for the county as a whole.

“Through the Parish and Town Councils taking part in this pilot, residents can help decide which highways work they want to prioritise to make their area look and feel better.”

Peter Davey, Chairman of the Essex Association of Local Councils, said: “The EALC exists to forge and foster partnership-led, informed support for the local councils of Essex, so they can improve their residents and businesses’ economic, social and recreational life.

“This pilot offers a good example of joint-working in an innovative way, with each party using their particular strengths to improve the great county we live in. We are pleased to see Parishes and Towns sign up and will continue to whole-heartedly support the pilot as it develops.”

Chris Stevenson, Chairman of West Bergholt Parish Council, said: “West Bergholt Parish Council is delighted to be a member of the Highways Devolution Pilot and given the opportunity for local people to set the priorities for highway related small works. Since joining the pilot, residents have seen small but important projects implemented both quickly and efficiently by their village handymen and warden.

“We look forward to increasing the number of projects to be undertaken and further strengthening the collaborative relationship between ECC, the EALC and Parish Councils, working together to improve village and community wellbeing.”

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