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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Community Liaison Committee: 23rd October, 2012

 

Report of the Director of Visible Services and Housing

 

Highways and Winter Service 2012 / 13

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To inform Town and Community Councils of the position with Highway Maintenance and Winter Service for the 2012 / 13 financial period.

Recommendation

1.             That Committee note the current arrangements for both Winter Service and Highway Maintenance.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.             To inform Committee.

Background

2.             The severe winter of 2009 / 10, and the protracted heavy snow and below freezing temperatures of the winter in 2010 / 11 has taken a toll on the highway network.  Fortunately the winter of 2011 / 12 was milder and had a lesser impact but damage to the road network had already been caused.  This was evidenced by the numbers of roads requiring re-surfacing and the increase in the value of the 3 Year Highway Re-surfacing Plans (see Appendix 1 for financial summary of the plans).

Relevant Issues and Options

Highway Maintenance

3.             The Council has undertaken an increased amount of highway re-surfacing and repairs and this is particularly true for the periods 2010 / 11 and 2011 / 12 as identified in the table contained at Appendix 2.  The spend has been made up of increased budgets from the Council and supplemented by specific grants from Welsh Government.

4.             Welsh Government in recognition of the deteriorating condition of the highway networks across Wales has introduced an initiative that will assist Councils in part to address this.

5.             The 'Local Government Borrowing Initiative' (LGBI) is allowing Councils to borrow approximately £170 million across Wales over a three year period for highway improvements.  This will permit the Vale of Glamorgan to invest a sum totalling £6.7 million over the 3 year period of the initiative from 2012 / 13 to 2014 /15.

6.             The LGBI must be supported by the submission of a 'Business Justification Case' (BJC), detailing exactly what proposals a Council is making in relation to the highway improvement and how it meets the conditions of the initiative.  The Vale has submitted a BJC for 2012 / 13 detailing the proposed highways investment for this period and this was reported to Cabinet on 18th April, 2012 (Minute C1699 refers).

7.             Further BJCs are required to be submitted for the 2013 / 14 and 2014 / 15 financial periods.  Both these must be submitted by 31st December, 2012 and are currently being prepared.

8.             As part of the BJC submission all Councils have to finalise their Highway's Asset Management Plans (HAMP) by December 2012.  This will be a requirement of the conditions in order to approve future funding.  To progress with the HAMP, WG has made £300k available across Wales, and the County Surveyors Society, Wales (CSS Wales), have led on the appointment of a consultant, with procurement undertaken by Newport Council as lead Authority.

9.             'EXP' Consultants were appointed and continue to lead and support all Councils in the preparation of their HAMP.  The Vale of Glamorgan is currently on programme to substantially complete the HAMP by the deadline of December 2012.

10.        A recent Public Opinion Survey (2012) showed that 86 % of residents are either very or fairly satisfied with highways maintenance. This figure has fallen from 95% in 2009. The result however for satisfaction on road maintenance was recorded as 42% dropping from 80% in the previous survey.

11.        Therefore to demonstrate that the Vale of Glamorgan Council listens to its citizens "The Big Fill" initiative has been launched. "The Big Fill" initiative commenced in September 2012 and involves the Council's highways maintenance teams targeting pothole repairs in each and every ward over a year long campaign.

12.        The initiative directly engages with the public and invites them to report any outstanding potholes or highway repairs that require attention in their Ward.  The direct benefit of the initiative is that it is all additional work to that which would normally be carried out during the weekday also, as we are working in individual Wards on weekends, the public are able to report potholes the week leading up to the weekend work or even the weekend when they see the highway's team in their area.

13.        The initiative was launched in September with a press release and further press notices (copies of which are attached at Appendix 3).  The initiative has been well received by the public and Council Members alike.  Regular future press releases will advise the public when we will be visiting their Ward giving them the dates and advising them when and how to report potholes in their areas.  The whole initiative is being delivered in three phases over the year. Phase one up to Christmas 2012, phase two up to approximately Easter 2013 and phase three through the summer 2013.

Winter Service

14.        The Highways and Engineering section is now fully prepared for the winter of 2012 / 13.  All the gritter vehicles have been serviced and are fully functional.  There are 10 gritting vehicles in the fleet with 9 being utilised for the gritting routes and one in reserve to cover for breakdowns, and as an additional resource during severe conditions.

15.        We took delivery of our salt stock during the summer and have approximately 4,800 tonnes which includes salt for distribution into the salt bins.  The main storage for the salt is at the Alps Depot with 2,500 tonnes stored in the salt barn and the remainder stored adjacent to the barn covered against the weather.  The total tonnage of salt stocked for winter was increased from 2,500 tonnes to the current levels due to the recent severe winters and the national shortage of salt that was experienced at those times.

16.        Current pre-salting levels remain at 43% of the entire road network, however there has been a substantial increase in the provision of grit bins in recognition of public demand. Grit bins are a positive 'self help' facility for motorists and residents and the increase in number has assisted in improving this particular service area.  The increase in the numbers of grit bins can be seen in the table below:

Year

No. of Grit Bins

2004 - 2005

87

2005 - 2006

161

2006 - 2007

162

2007 - 2008

162

2008 - 2009

165

2009 - 2010

183

2010 - 2011

206

2011 - 2012

289

 

 

17.        The Council's website has recently been updated and very much more detail relating to the delivery of winter service is available.  The link is as follows:

http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/living/highways_and_engineering/highways_winter_service

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

18.        The current budget for full delivery of winter service stands at £508k.  The cost of delivering winter service in 2010 /11 was £755k and in 2011/12 was £531k.  In recognition of the recent harsh winters and over spends of this budget during these periods further provision has therefore been made.

19.        Following the reinstatement of the 'Severe Weather Reserve' an additional reserve budget of £550k is now available should the weather conditions be so severe as to require additional service to meet demand. 

20.        Appendix 2 shows the amount spent on pot-holes and resurfacing from 2009/10 to 2011/12 and the budget for 2012/13.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

21.        Maintaining our road network so as to ensure it remains safe and open for use at all times helps to support economic activity in the County.  It also ensures that schools and other important establishments can remain open for as long as possible during periods of severe weather.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

22.        The Council has a duty under the Highways Act 1980 to maintain the highways that are 'maintainable at public expense' and also to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by ice and snow.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.        None from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

24.        None from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

25.        A well maintained highway network contributes to the Council's Corporate Objective in assisting to promote regeneration and the environment.

Policy Framework and Budget

26.        This report is within the policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27.        None.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

28.        Economy and Environment

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Andrew Loosemore - Operational Manager Highways and Engineering

Tel No. 02920 673 200

 

Officers Consulted

Accountant Visible and Building Services

Operational Manager Legal Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter, Director of Visible Services and Housing

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