Has your town or parish signed up to Suffolk DIY highways scheme?
PUBLISHED: 07:32 20 July 2019
A scheme to enable volunteers to carry out low level highways work has already seen towns and parishes start work just weeks after being launched.
Suffolk Highways launched the Community Self Help project on May 15, which enables trained volunteers from town and parish councils to carry out low level maintenance work such as sign cleaning and hedge trimming.
It was prompted by budget cuts which meant Suffolk County Council would only carry out lower level highways work where there was a safety issue.
Since the launch, 18 town and parish councils have outlined their intention to carry out work or request further information to enable them to do so.
Sudbury Town Council has already agreed a one-year pilot for its community wardens to carry out work.
Those four wardens are also being offered to other nearby parishes to carry out work on their behalf, having already had the necessary training.
According to the latest highways report presented to Suffolk County Council on Thursday, the town and parishes to have registered their intentions so far are:
Bures St Mary
Bury St Edmunds
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Trimley St Martin
Conservative cabinet member for highways Mary Evans said: "There is interest - it's early days but I think more interest will generate more interest from others.
"We have got to make the training a little less daunting - that's all about maintaining health and safety."
Options on the table include training of volunteers to do work themselves, contracting out that work to an external firm or 'buying' services from the county council for its highways team to carry out.
However, the scheme is not about getting volunteers working on the road itself, the council said.
Sudbury Town council clerk Jacqueline Howells said: "With things like painting of heritage lampposts and cleaning of road signs unless they are seen to be dangerous the county council have made it quite clear they haven't got funding to do this.
"Some of the councillors were rather reluctant [to sign up] because it could be seen as double taxation, but realistically if you want to keep our town looking nice and taking pride in our town we have got to step up to the mark and do it.
"The town council have agreed to trial it for a year because there is a cost implication where they are doing this work where they might not before.
"We are in a better position because our community wardens have already got street works training. This is the next step in what we are taking on ourselves."