It has long been possible for town and parish councils to provide, at their own expense, some small-scale highway items and works such as provision of signs, salt bins, hard standings at bus stops, etc.
The Local Government and Rating Act (1997) removed the limit for traffic calming schemes and allows town and parish councils to fund some limited traffic management projects.
Funding restrictions and priorities
The scope for us to provide all the traffic schemes which people would like is limited by budget restrictions and whether they meet Connecting Oxfordshire priorities. We give priority to schemes that meet the LTP criteria and also schemes at known accident sites. This means that we cannot fund all traffic schemes in other places.
What can be provided and funded locally
Because any traffic scheme will involve some staff time and resources, which are limited, only small traffic schemes can be included. Typical schemes which could be considered include:
- simple local waiting restrictions (yellow lines)
- minor driving restrictions (one-way streets, turning bans or vehicle prohibitions) involving only modest traffic diversions
- simple local traffic calming and 'gateway' schemes
- speed activated signs
Matters to be considered
- the cost of preparation, consultation and legal processes often exceeds the costs of the actual works
- not all proposals will be acceptable, either because they do not comply with national criteria or safety rules, or because they conflict with our policies
- local opposition or design difficulties can prevent some schemes being progressed
- schemes must be realistic. There is little point in introducing traffic schemes if they are not going to be respected by drivers, or enforced by the Police
- the whole process, especially if formal legal procedures are involved, can take between 6 and 18 months, but simple signing and road marking schemes may be implemented in a shorter time
The following procedures may appear complex but are necessary to ensure that public money is spent where the greatest benefit will accrue, that schemes fit with national and local policy guidelines, that schemes have a reasonable level of general local support and that our duty of care to all highway users is protected.
Following an initial approach by the town or parish council to the Area Traffic Engineer via the Highway Enquiries Team, the Engineer or their representative will normally meet Parish Councillors on site to discuss the proposals, advise on costs and alternatives, feasibility and the extent to which the proposals match national and local policy.
If the scheme is fully justified and can be implemented as a low cost project by us the work will be programmed for implementation as part of our routine programme of work. Alternatively, for more expensive projects, the Area Traffic Engineer may recognise that the scheme has a chance to secure special funding. In such a case they will submit it for a full scale study and it may, or may not, succeed in gaining a place in a future programme of schemes.
Schemes often fall short of being justified in terms of the stringent assessment for capital funding but may, nevertheless, provide a benefit but are not deemed a high priority by the Area Traffic Engineer. Such schemes may be considered for implementation if entirely self-funded by the town or parish.
The town or parish will be asked to take an agency for the design checks and implementation of the scheme. The application will need the sanction of the Council's Cabinet Member for Transport and the town or parish council will need to raise appropriate finance for the project.
- the consultant appointed by the town or parish is required to submit preliminary designs, including any draft Traffic Regulation Orders and arrange an informal consultation process with stakeholders
- the consultant should modify his proposals in the light of the consultation exercise and resubmit them to the town/parish council and to us for technical design approval
- the town or parish is required to obtain and submit to the county council an independent Safety Audit for the scheme
- the consultant will need to undertake formal consultation and prepare Traffic Regulation Orders
- the results of the formal consultation will be submitted to our Cabinet Member for Transport by the consultant and a decision made accordingly
- the town/parish council, consultant and county council Area Traffic Engineer then agree how implementation is to proceed, either through our term contractor or an independent contract under the consultant's project management.