Report of the Chief Officer for Highways, Infrastructure Development and Waste (HIW/20/20) seeking approval of the County Road Highway Maintenance Revenue Budget and On Street Parking Account, attached.
(Councillors Biederman, Connett, Dewhirst, Hannaford and Greenslade attended remotely in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Report of the Chief Officer for Highways, Infrastructure Development and Waste (HIW/20/20) seeking approval of the County Road Highway Maintenance Revenue Budget and On Street Parking Account, circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.
The Cabinet Member for Highway Management commented that the Coronavirus pandemic was having an impact on the highway revenue programme, having reduced the availability of resources, with both quarries and contractors in the supply chain closing or reducing their activities. He also added that the revenue budget had been increased to include an additional £2m to address drainage related issues.
The Report highlighted that revenue funded works consisted of three types of maintenance, being reactive (for example, repairs to safety defects, emergency response, flooding, overhanging vegetation, which, if neglected, would pose a potential danger to road users). Secondly, there was routine maintenance and thirdly, cyclic maintenance (such as gully emptying, grass cutting, drainage pipes, ditch cleaning etc) carried out to a defined frequency.
The highway maintenance base budget had been set at £26,079,000, comprising £23,879,000 in the Highways Service budget and £2,200,000 funded from the On-street Parking account. The detailed allocations were set out in Appendix I to the Report.
The Cabinet also noted the unprecedented level of wet weather towards the latter part of 2019 and early 2020 and a succession of storms that had brought destructive high winds, resulting in damage across the network.
The Strategy used a framework to manage the highway network as described in the Highway
Infrastructure Asset Management Policy (HIAMP). With a total asset under CIPFA guidance
valued at £13.3 billion (Gross Replacement Cost) of which carriageways alone were valued at
£11.1 billion, the highway network was the County’s most valuable and important public asset.
Since April 2019 all publicly reported potholes were visited and assessed to allow for serviceability defects (as well as safety defects) to be addressed. There was also an increased use of the Dragon Patcher as well as the work of District and Parish Council’s in delivering services such as grass and hedge cutting and the treatment of weeds. There was also an increase in issues with drainage and flooding, therefore improvements in system jetting and enhanced records would be used to understand the causes. The additional drainage allocation for the current financial year was welcomed to help address these matters.
In relation to On Street Parking, the costs of operating the on-street parking service was the first call on any income held. Any surplus had to be used in accordance with the eligibility criteria as set out in the legislation. The Highways Maintenance budget included £2.2m for highways environmental maintenance works, funded from this account. Full details of the proposed On-street Parking Account non-operating expenditure for 2020/21, totalling £5.315m, was shown in Appendix II of the Report. The estimated balance was expected to reduce, but this did not take into account the effect of Covid-19 on both income and expenditure.
The Report then highlighted the current position with Traffic Management Plans, where there continued to be high demand for the review and implementation of parking restrictions. The 2020/21 programme was filled with existing commitments, therefore new requests would be prioritised on the basis of traffic management need, sustainability and community support to ensure resource and monies were used to best effect.
In summary, the Highways Maintenance Revenue Budget and On-street Parking Account for 2020/21 optimised the use of available funding to provide for reactive and clear-up activities, winter maintenance, safety defect repairs, routine and cyclic maintenance activities and the on-street parking service. It provided a balance between the competing needs of the network and those of the travelling public. The Cabinet Member also reported on Devon’s public response to the annual National Highway and Transport Survey which had showed an improving picture across the board, the results of which could be found in Appendix III.
The matter having been debated and the options and/or alternatives and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, sustainability (including carbon impact), risk management, equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact) set out in the Chief Officer’s Report and/or referred to above having been considered:
it was MOVED by Councillor Hughes, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
(a) that the budget allocations for highway maintenance for 2020/21, as detailed in Appendix I to the Report, be approved;
(b) that the authority to amend the allocations between different work types to maintain the
budget within the total allocation and to maximise the impact of the maintenance programme be delegated to the Chief Officer for Highways, Infrastructure Development and Waste in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Highway Management; and
(c) that the programme funded from the On-street Parking Account for 2020/21, as set
out in Appendix II of the Report, also be approved.