Highways services - Frequently asked questions | Oxfordshire County Council

Highways services - Frequently asked questions

List of answers to common town and parish council queries about the delivery of services.

General questions

Is the county council just trying to save money at parish and town councils' expense?

No. We do however believe that the delivery of services by a cluster can be undertaken in a more cost effective method.

What can the money be spent on?

A minimum standard of service delivery is expected for most services however, beyond these minimum standards the money may be spent as the town and parish chooses.

How was the budget allocated?

The provisional budget offer provided is made up of the current cost to the county council as per the individual services in scope schedule.

How will the budget be allocated?

Where there are budgets available these will be similar to those that we would spend if the services were not delivered at a local level.

Who will the budget be paid to?

Each parish can decide where the money is paid as a single amount to each individual or one cluster lead.

What happens in an area that is not parished?

The Local Government Act 1972 section 136 allows us to pay grants to local councils for its functions to be discharged by another council.  This excludes non parished areas from this proposal.

How much will each town/parish/cluster receive?

The budget that will be allocated is based on the amount of work per activity in scope (for example grass cutting is calculated on a per square metre basis). By undertaking a budget allocation in this manner it provides a consistent approach in each area.

Will OCC come and talk to our organisation in greater detail about the proposal?

Yes, there are a number of officers who can attend meetings (morning, daytime and evenings).  Please contact Localities@oxfordshire.gov.uk with your preferred dates and times.

Cluster arrangements

What if different parishes in a cluster require different standards?

All clusters will be required to meet the minimum standards. If different parishes within a cluster require different delivery standards (for example, a different numbers of grass cuts) then that can be agreed within the cluster.

Would there be opportunities for the county council to broker/facilitate discussions about cluster formation?

Yes. Where clusters do not naturally establish themselves, we are prepared to support discussions.

What happens if the cluster approach fails? What happens if a parish within a cluster pulls out?

We will look to establish alternative local delivery solutions where a task that has a statutory responsibility attached to it is not undertaken.

Service delivery and operational details

What level of Public Liability Insurance will a cluster/operative require?

Clusters and parishes will need to arrange Public Liability Insurance (of £10million) and £5million (minimum) Employers’ Liability Insurance. Advice and quotes should be obtained from your insurance broker. 

What are the statutory elements of this devolution?

Parish clusters will adhere to a minimum standard of service delivery; however, beyond this it is up to them how they determine service delivery.

Who is liable in the event of an incident?

We are asking parishes to have full responsibility, although the county council will remain as the enforcement authority. Under devolution legislation, Oxfordshire County Council remains the principal authority and our statutory functions remain, however, we will seek to devolve liability for certain functions (services). Town and parish councils are under no obligation to take on service devolution but if they are unsure they are advised to seek legal advice.

 How do we identify the assets in our area?

There are maps available for the grass cutting areas, there are no maps for hedge cutting or footways as those activities are not carried out on a cyclical basis and maps have not been required in the past. All the information we have is the distance in scope within each parish and town.

How do we find out who is the responsible landowner?

If there is a dispute over the ownership of a hedge, the county council will refer to the lands and highway records team and the Land Registry to determine if it is within the highway boundary and advise the cluster accordingly.

Can the county council provide town and parish councils with web access to county council land ownership in the parishes?

Maps of the grass cutting areas in scope are being provided. Other queries about land ownership will be responded to on a case by case basis. There is a potentially opportunity to create a parish area within the county council’s Intranet that would enable all layers of Geographic Information System (GIS) data that the authority holds to be shown.

What will the funding offer be for each of the prior identified services?

The Oxfordshire Together Team are currently finalising the funding offer.  Full details will be sent out to all interested parties by 30 October 2015.

Questions about the future

What other services will be in scope for this service delivery model?

The council is considering all its options and is open to discussions and suggestions of services which the towns and parishes may wish to undertake.

What will the county council do if the proposal does not go ahead?

We will not undertake any of the services identified within scope for transition unless they are a statutory responsibility or they are deemed to be a danger to users of the public highway.

Will the county council ensure all areas in scope are repaired before handing over, for example clearing rights of way?

There will not be an additional programme of work before handing over. In simple terms, the land and fixtures in scope will be handed over 'as seen'. However, where there are particular areas of concern we may be able to discuss some initial support for clusters to resolve difficulties.

Agreement periods

What happens to the current arrangements?

The current local agency arrangements for highway services that are within scope of this document will continue as normal. Existing agencies wishing to take on additional services will be asked to enter into a new agreement that will cover all of the transferred highway services.

How long will agreements run for?

The initial highway service transfer agreement will last for three years.

Last reviewed
12 July 2017
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