Agenda item

Local Highways Panel Report

To receive a report from the Essex Highways Officer (report to follow).

Minutes:

The panel received a presentation from the Highways Liaison Officer, Rosa Tanfield reporting on highways issues within Epping Forest District. The majority of capital funded highway maintenance schemes had been completed and the capital budget for 2009/10 had been fully committed.

 

The County Council Cabinet member for highways and transportation, Councillor Norman Hume had provisionally approved an additional £4 million pounds of capital finance for highways maintenance in 2009/10, which would provide Epping Forest District with £659,000 for schemes.

 

The Highways Liaison Officer updated members regarding Improvements, Safer Roads Programme, Public Rights of Way and Passenger Transport Improvements, Localism Budget, Area Parking Reviews, Developer funded schemes and the Epping Forest Transport Strategy.

 

The Community Initiative Fund bidding process for 2009/10 had now closed and twenty applications had been received from the Epping Forest District. Officers would now carry out the viability analysis and estimates to be submitted with the applications, which would be judged in March/April 2010.

 

The Highways Liaison Officer advised members that the budget for the highways rangers service had been reduced County wide, resulting in the highways rangers  ceasing within the Epping Forest District in November 2009. Members commented on the disappointment at the lost of the Highways Rangers service and when the service resumes in the next financial year, members would like more control over the work schedule and timing.

 

The Area Highways Manager, West Essex, David Forkin advised that the Highways Rangers service had been given a 12 month funding allocation, however the funding had been reduced and ECC were only able to provide 6 months. The programme of the Rangers had been split equally between Epping Forest District Council and Harlow Council for 2008/9. Neither the Epping Forest Panel nor the Harlow Panel had been established, and in order to utilise the budget and ensure that the District benefited from this initiative, it had been arranged for them to commence work, ahead of the Panel. Now that the 6 months had passed, the service had now transferred to Harlow, where their Panel had been set up within the last month.

 

Councillor Mrs D Borton raised concerns about Dobbs Weir and heavy vehicular traffic through Nazeing. The Area Highways Manager advised that an increased area wide weight restriction would be progressed, which would hopefully redirect heavy vehicle traffic onto more appropriate routes.

 

Councillor J Whitehouse enquired about the street lighting policy with regards to column defects and queried why ward members had not been re-consulted after collation of the surveys for the Epping Parking review. The Area Highways Manager  advised that replacement of columns and lights would be prioritised depending on the location i.e. near junctions, pedestrian crossings etc. The County Officer had not been aware that Ward Members would want to comment after the consultation responses had been received. Once responses had been received by the residents, the information would  compiled and summarised so that Officers would be able to  make appropriate recommendations on the comments received.

 

Councillor K Angold-Stephens commented on the street lighting columns in Loughton being unsuitable for hanging baskets and also queried whether the installers of the Christmas lights could also carry out their own testing in order to produce cost savings. Councillor Ms S Stavrou commented that ECC had been very helpful and cost effective with regards to the testing of the Christmas light in Waltham Abbey Town Centre. The Area Highways Manager advised that it would be necessary for Christmas lighting to be tested to ensure that it would be fit for purpose. The costs would be in the region of £50 and very reasonable for the quantity achieved.

 

Recommendation

 

1.                  that the report of the highways liaison officer be noted; and

2.                  that the highways liaison officer updates the panel on the programme for 2009/10.

 

Supporting documents: