How it will work and details of services | Oxfordshire County Council

How it will work and details of services

What you need to know about the approach in practice and its operational aspects.

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In September 2015, we launched Oxfordshire Together, marking the beginning of engagement with town and parish councils to assess their interest in taking on the delivery of some highway services that the council will no longer be able to deliver in the future. 

The launch of the Oxfordshire Together offer was a first step, where we were looking to work with local councils to identify the best possible delivery solutions for our communities. 

Over the past five months a significant number of parishes have expressed an interest in the proposal, and we have now refined the Oxfordshire Together offer in light of the discussions we have had with parishes.

We will continue to work with all the parishes to identify the best approach that works locally.

Full details, including process flow charts for each service, can be found in our draft Transitional offer of highway services booklet (pdf format, 625Kb). An updated booklet will be published in April 2016.

Services included in the arrangement

Grass cutting (urban) – DPS01

Funding Funding will be available for this service. The figures will be based upon a linear meter.
Description Cutting of urban grass verges twice a year with key visibility areas cut as and when required.
Minimum standards
  • There is no set length that the grass must be cut to, however it must be cut one meter back from the kerb edge a minimum of once a year, unless otherwise agreed.
  • Information on hazard and speed limit signs must be clearly legible to oncoming road users.
  • Visibility splays at road junctions or pedestrian crossings are maintained in a safe manner at all times.
  • Cuttings must be left to mulch on the road side, disposed of commercially or composted in the community. They must not be taken to the local household recycling site.
Health and safety standards
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn/used and correct for the speed of the road being worked on.
  • Correct type of grass cutting equipment used for different environments (steep verges ETC).   A site risk assessment must be carried out.
  • Legislation relating to safe working on/near carriageways must be observed.
  • When using specialist equipment staff must be appropriately trained.
  • Where appropriate works must be noticed to ensure that there is no conflict with works being undertaken by the local highways authority or utility companies. Any locations that require this type of notification will be identified prior to allocation.
Insurance requirements £10 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives).

Grass cutting (rural) – DPS02

Funding Funding will be available for this service. The figures will be based upon a square meter.
Description Cutting of rural grass verges twice a year with key visibility areas cut as and when required.
Minimum standards
  • There is no set length that the grass must be cut to, however it must be cut one meter back from the kerb edge a minimum of once a year, unless otherwise agreed.
  • Information on hazard and speed limit signs must be clearly legible to oncoming road users.
  • Visibility splays at road junctions or pedestrian crossings are maintained in a safe manner at all times.
  • Cuttings must be left to mulch on the road side, disposed of commercially or composted in the community. They must not be taken to the local household recycling site.
Health and safety standards
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn/used and correct for the speed of the road being worked on.
  • Correct type of grass cutting equipment used for different environments (steep verges etc.).
  • A site specific risk assessment must be carried out.
  • Legislation relating to safe working on/near carriageways must be observed.
  • When using specialist equipment staff must be appropriately trained.
  • Where appropriate works must be noticed to ensure that there is no conflict with works being undertaken by the local highways authority or utility companies. Any locations that require this type of notification will be identified prior to allocation.
  • Principal roads will require specific traffic management.  Oxfordshire County Council may be able to supply this function through the highways partnership contract.
Insurance requirements £10 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives)

Vegetation cutback – DP203

Funding Funding will not be on offer for this service.
Description
  • Where vegetation (that is on land that forms part of the public highway) is obscuring pavements or other areas of public highway, this should be removed to ensure pedestrians and vehicles can navigate the route safely.
  • No privately owned hedges are to be trimmed as part of this service (see DPS07).
Minimum standards
  • Pavements must be clear of all obstructions.
  • Pavements are accessible to pedestrians.
  • Encroaching grass must be cut out of pavements.
  • Where landowners are involved they must be made aware of their obligations and prompted to clear footpaths and pavements (see DPS07).
Health and safety standards
  • Personal protective equipment is worn/ used when working on/near carriageways.
  • Legislation relating to safe working on/near carriageways must be observed.
  • When using specialist equipment staff must be appropriately trained.
Insurance requirements £10 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives). The county council covers liability for volunteers groups (non-paid).

Weed control – DPS04

Funding Funding will not be available for this service.
Description
  • Control the spread of noxious weeds (as defined within the Noxious Weeds Act 1959) which can damage habitats and agricultural land.
  • These are: Common ragwort Creeping thistle Field thistle Spear thistle Curled and broad-leaved dock Ragwort
  • Japanese knotweed is not covered by this service as specialist training and chemicals are required.
Minimum standards
  • Footways are kept clear and signs/road furniture on verges are not obscured by weeds/vegetation.
  • The spread of these weeds onto adjacent land is prevented as far is practically possible.
Health and safety standards
  • Personal protective equipment is worn/ used when working on/near carriageways.
  • The employer is responsible for providing all Personal protective equipment stated on the herbicide’s label.
  • Legislation relating to safe working on/near carriageways must be observed.
  • When using specialist equipment staff must be appropriately trained and chemicals stored in accordance with the relevant legislation/regulations.
  • Legislation relating to safe working on/near carriageways/ watercourses must be observed.
Insurance requirements £5 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives). The county council covers liability for volunteers groups (non-paid).

Salt bin management – DPS05

Funding Funding will be available for this service.
Description The restocking of 1,300 salt bins located adjacent to the Public Highway.
Minimum standards Salt bins to be kept stocked during the autumn, winter and early spring period (normally 01 Nov to 31 March).
Health and safety standards
  • Personal protective equipment is worn/ used when working on/near carriageways.
  • The product must be stored in a location and manner that does not enable it to have an impact on the surrounding environment. 
  • No product may leach into any water courses.
  • Operatives filling the salt bins must wear the correct personal protective equipment for the speed of the road that they are working on.
  • Legislation relating to safe working on/near carriageways/ watercourses must be observed.
Insurance requirements £5 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives). The county council covers liability for volunteers groups (non-paid).

Public rights of way – DPS06

Funding Funding will not be available for this service.
Description
  • The undertaking of walked inspections on Oxfordshire’s rural network on an annual basis.
  • The reporting of issues to the county council’s Countryside Access Team for works that are considered to require specialist equipment or knowledge.
Minimum standards
  • Public rights of way are accessible for pedestrians (or other modes of transport relevant to the classification of the rights of way).
  • Walked surveys undertaken on an annual basis by a parish warden with defects found reported to the county council’s Countryside Access Team.
  • Basic defects such as minor vegetation clearance to be undertaken.
Health and safety standards
  • Personal protective equipment is worn/ used when working on/near carriageways.
  • Personal protective equipment suitable for the tools/machines being utilised must be supplied and adhered too. 
  • Training must be given to operatives utilising any form of cutting or mowing equipment.
  • A site specific risk assessment must be carried out, prior to operations commencing.
Insurance requirements £5 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives). The county council covers liability for volunteers groups (non-paid).

Vegetation section 154 notices – DPS07

Funding Funding will not be available for this service.
Description Send requests to frontages and landowners to deal with overhanging vegetation that is causing an obstruction and/or danger to the public highway.
Minimum standards
  • Information on Hazard and Speed limit signs is legible to oncoming road users.
  • Visual displays such as traffic signal heads, pelican crossings and Light Emitting Diode (LED) display boards are clear.
  • Pavements and rights of way are accessible to pedestrians; and bridleways to pedestrians and horses.
  • Public highway widths are not restricted by encroaching private hedgerow vegetation.
  • Template letters will be supplied by the county council.
Health and safety standards Personal protective equipment  is worn/ used when working on/near carriageways.
Insurance requirements The county council covers liability for volunteers groups (non-paid).

School crossing patrol – DPS08

Funding Funding and equipment will be available for this service.
Description The delivery of existing school crossing patrols where the county council can delegate their powers.    The setting-up of additional school crossing patrols within a parish or town.
Minimum standards Existing and proposed new crossings delivered in accordance with the guidelines identified within the School Crossing Patrol Guidelines 2012.
Health and safety standards
  • Correct Personal protective equipment must be worn and suitable training given to operatives. 
  • Stop signs must conform to the School Crossing Patrol Sign (England and Wales) Regulations 2006.
Insurance requirements £10 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives). The county council covers liability for volunteers groups (non-paid).

Footway siding – DPS09

Funding Funding will not be available for this service.
Description Preventing the encroachment of verge soil and growth onto the pavement.
Minimum standards
  • Signs on verges are not obscured by vegetation.
  • Cyclical maintenance approx. once every 2 - 3 years or as required. Safe passage of walkers should be possible.
Health and safety standards
  • Personal protective equipment is worn/ used when working on/near carriageways.
  • Legislation relating to safe working on/near carriageways must be observed.
  • When using specialist equipment staff must be appropriately trained.
Insurance requirements £10 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives).   The county council covers liability for volunteers groups (non-paid).

Epicormic/basal tree growth – DPS10

Funding Funding will be available for this service based on the number of trees within a given area.
Description The removal of basal tree growth from a prior agreed list of trees.
Minimum standards
  • The removal of all basal and epicormics grown from prior identified trees up to the height of the first branch. 
  • Trees must not cause reduced visibility or width to any areas of the public highway.
  • A minimum requirement of two cuts per annum.
  • No damage may occur to the stem of the tree.
  • Works should be undertaken utilising a sharp handsaw and hedge trimmers only.
Health and safety standards
  • Personal protective equipment is worn/ used when working on/near carriageways.
  • Legislation relating to safe working on/near carriageways must be observed.
  • When using specialist equipment staff must be appropriately trained.
Insurance requirements £10 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives).   The county council covers liability for volunteers groups (non-paid).

Street furniture cleaning – DPS12

Funding Funding will not be available for this service
Description
  • The cleaning of information on hazard and regulatory speed limit signs, give way and stop signs, to ensure their legibility to oncoming motorists.
  • The cleaning of non-illuminated bollards and Warning signs IE bends and chevrons
Minimum standards
  • Signs to be cleaned every three years with cold soapy water and a brush as a minimum standard.
  • All Information on hazard and regulatory speed limit signs, give way and stop signs, must be legible to oncoming motorists at all times of the year.
  • Non-illuminated bollards and warning signs IE bends and chevrons to be cleaned.
  • Any defective signs/bits of minor street furniture that are no longer fit for purpose, must be reported back to the County Council.
Health and safety standards
  • Personal protective equipment is worn/ used when working on/near carriageways.
  • Legislation relating to safe working on/near carriageways must be observed.
  • When using specialist equipment staff must be appropriately trained.
  • All proposed ground areas must be checked for underground services prior to any excavation works taking place
Insurance requirements £10 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives).   The county council covers liability for volunteers groups (non-paid).

GIS asset mapping – DPS13

Funding Funding will not be available for this service
Description The undertaking of additional Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping to complete the existing inventory.
Minimum standards Key highway assets such as street furniture and road signs identified on a Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping system with a unique reference number allocated to each individual item
Health and safety standards
  • Personal protective equipment is worn/ used when working on/near carriageways.
  • Legislation relating to safe working on/near carriageways must be observed.
  • When using specialist equipment staff must be appropriately trained.
  • All proposed ground areas must be checked for underground services prior to any excavation works taking place.
Insurance requirements £10 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives).   The county council covers liability for volunteers groups (non-paid).

Public highway inspection – DSP15

Funding Funding from the county council will not be available for this service.
Description The inspection and basic maintenance of all un-metalled public highways that are not covered by the rights of way service.
Minimum standards
  • Annual walked inspections of all public highways deemed to be in category 11 and 12. 
  • All inspections must be documented and basic defects rectified or reported back to Oxfordshire County Council via Fix My Street.
Health and safety standards
  • Personal protective equipment  is worn/ used when working on/near carriageways.
  • Legislation relating to safe working on/near carriageways must be observed.
  • When using specialist equipment staff must be appropriately trained.
  • All ground areas must be checked for underground services prior to any excavation works taking place.
Insurance requirements £10 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives).   The county council covers liability for volunteers groups (non-paid).

Drainage notices – DSP16

Funding Funding from the county council will not be available for this service.
Description The issuing of drainage improvement notices to land owners adjacent to the public highway.
Minimum standards
  • Notices to be served on a standardised template with an initial 21 day period then a further 21 day period.
  • If no response is received the matter can be referred to the county council for enforcement highwayenquiries@oxfordshire.gov.uk.
  • Ditches to be maintained in a manner that prevents water running over the surface of the public highway.
Health and safety standards
  • Personal protective equipment is worn/ used when working on/near carriageways.
  • Legislation relating to safe working on/near carriageways must be observed.
  • When using specialist equipment staff must be appropriately trained.
Insurance requirements £10 Million Public Liability (for paid operatives).   The county council covers liability for volunteers groups (non-paid).

Minimum risk

Highway services will only be devolved if they are deemed to be a minimum risk to the town or parish council that will be delivering them. For example, this means that grass cuts within the 50mph/60mph limit will only be included in devolved arrangements on a case by case basis if parishes can deliver them safely.

Services not included

Highway services out of scope of this transition

  • Passenger Transport: This is currently delivered by the county council and a number of external providers. Clusters may wish to be involved in the various community transport projects around the county. We are happy to help facilitate additional Community Transport Schemes.
  • Street Lighting: Although towns and parishes are encouraged to report defects with street lights this function will remain with the county council specialist team.
  • Winter maintenance: Although town and parish councils are involved in minor winter maintenance involving salting of footpaths and some roads, Oxfordshire County Council will continue to respond to emergency road clearance and maintain the primary network during winter.
  • Parking services: Town and parish councils may report parking infringements to the police or Oxfordshire County Council but they do not have the powers to issue Penalty Charge Notices.
  • Capital works: These are large scale programmes which require specialist in-house expertise to manage.
  • Routine maintenance: There are a number of areas where town and parish councils will be able to conduct maintenance. However the following areas are not deemed to be appropriate for external delivery because they involve work on or by the highway:
  • Filling of category 1 and 2 potholes
  • Resurfacing and patching of roads
  • Replacements of road signs
  • Major siding out
  • Major drainage improvement schemes
  • Lining works

The following services will remain with Oxfordshire County Council (at the present time) as they require specific areas of expertise and knowledge:

  • Highway safety inspections (all metalled (surfaced) public highways)
  • Bridge inspection and management
  • Tree inspection and management (the county council may seek to offer the delivery of this service for town and parish councils within the next two to three years)
  • Traffic management and road space management
  • Asset management
  • Casualty reduction

Funding

Every town and parish would receive an offer of an annual budget based on the service delivery they have opted to undertake. We are open to discussions about the best way to allocate the available funding, although the total budget will not be increased.

The budget is based on the amount of work per activity (for example grass cutting is calculated on a per square meter basis). This provides a consistent approach in each area.

Where discussions identify unusual costs or particular challenges we would like to work through the best way to solve them with each parish. We recognise that some areas may require some additional initial funding to resolve such issues. This may include the agreement for some initial start-up funding.

Agreement period

The initial highway service transfer agreement will last for three years. In the second year a review will be undertaken by us and financial offers for the second allocation of services will be defined. At this point, towns and parishes would be able to opt out of the services if they choose to. It should be noted that we will not seek to re-commence the services that are handed back in the third year as there is insufficient funding to do so.

Operational requirements

Responsibility

We are looking to hand responsibility for the services identified to the town and parish councils. However we will seek to establish alternative local delivery solutions wherever possible should a service fail.

The town or parish that is delivering a service will adhere to a minimum standard of service delivery; however, beyond this it is up to them how they determine service delivery. Towns and parishes will have a formal role in quality and quantity of service provision.

Parishes and town councils are under no obligation to take on a service delegation but if they are unsure they are advised to seek legal advice.

Insurance

The town, parish or cluster lead should inform its insurers of its involvement in the scheme and providers will be required to put in place a £10,000,000 public liability indemnity and a minimum of £5,000,000 employer’s liability insurance (these figures are currently under review).

Where a service contract is used, the operative should also have this level of indemnity. There may be exception to this rule if works are being undertaken away from a public highway for activities such as weed spraying on parts of the highway that do not require traffic management. Local agreements will be issued to town and parish councils prior to the roll out of this proposal with greater levels of detail surrounding: insurance, minimum standards and legal responsibilities.

Service providers will be responsible for creating method statements and risk assessment of all activities and ensuring that all mitigation measures arising from the risk assessments are in place. We will help create these documents for parish or town councils if they need assistance.

Further information on insurance requirements will be provided after the initial launch event.

Health and safety

Service deliverers are required to follow their own health and safety arrangements. We will offer support to establish these as part of the programme set up. Service leads and town/parish councils will be responsible for ensuring that their operative’s work in a safe and appropriate manner at all times, whilst adhering to any relevant legislation or best working practices.

If a service is not able to be undertaken safely then the work will revert to Oxfordshire County Council for completion and the funding for that given service will be recovered.

Equipment

Service leads can use the budget to buy or hire equipment to enable them to deliver the devolved services if there is a need to do so. This equipment must be maintained to the manufacturers specified recommendations.

Training

We are prepared to offer training in some areas of the transition to assist with business continuity. This will be determined on an individual basis.

Monitoring

We will not manage the performance or delivery of the highway services. Any public enquiries about the quality of service delivered within the new arrangement would be routed directly to the town, parish or cluster lead.

If defects are beyond the capability of the service provider the remedial operations may be passed back to the county council for action. However, in these circumstances the longevity of the arrangement and payments may need to be revisited.

We will review the services at the end of the initial three year period to establish if the process is working. Town and parish councils will be asked for feedback on how they feel that the process has worked for them.

Last reviewed
09 August 2017
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