Agenda item

Review of Highway and Car Park Safety Inspections and Intervention Levels and Response to Policy.


That the Committee recommends Cabinet approves the revised Highway and Car Park Inspection Policy (as in Appendix 1) which outlines the Council’s approach to all safety inspections, defect identification criteria, and response times.


The Chief Officer (Streetscene and Transportation) introduced a report to review the above Policy in line with the revised national guidelines following the implementation of the new code of practice in October 2018.  He provided background information and commented on the recognition in the recent budget announcement of the importance of the highway network in the delivery of economic and sustainable growth and said it was envisaged that 3 year funding would be made available for the resurfacing of roads.  The Chief Officer invited the Highways Network Manager to give an overview of the main considerations, as detailed in the report. 


Councillor Mike Peers commented on the Council’s statutory duty as a ‘Highway Authority’ to maintain all adopted highways including highway structures within the County and the potential for claims arising against the County from highway users for personal injury or loss arising from incidents or accidents in the event of a breach of that duty.  He commented that the priority must be public safety not ‘class’ of potholes.  He asked if the Authority referred to its inspection reports when dealing with claims arising from incidents or accidents which had occurred on the adopted highway network and were they available for Members to view. 


Councillor Peers referred to the proposed policy for highway and car park safety inspections, interventions criteria and response times which was appended to the report.  He commented on the defect identification criteria and expressed concerns that the category a defect would fall into was in the main down to interpretation.  He said more detail needed to be provided on the red category.


Councillor Peers expressed concerns around the response times and feedback to issues raised by Members and residents concerning defects and cited an example of a defect which had been reported regarding a pothole in his Ward.  He drew attention to the response time stated in the proposed policy.  The Highway Network Manager responded to the queries raised by Councillor Peers and explained that risk assessments were undertaken by the Streetscene Area Co-ordinator in line with code of practice.  He agreed to provide records on a case by case basis to Councillor Peers.  Councillor Peers asked that regular updates be provided by the Streetscene Area Coordinator to Members on the condition of the roads, footways and car parks in their Wards.  


Councillor Paul Shotton asked if consideration could be given to the use of drones to aid the Streetscene Area Co-ordinators to carry out their safety inspections or mend potholes.  The Chief Officer confirmed that electronic equipment was already used to assist in safety inspections and agreed to look into the possible use of drones.


Referring to the inspection of structures and retaining walls, Councillor David Evans commented on the problem of damaged railings and asked if this was included in the inspections.  He also said there were no timescales detailed in the proposed policy for the repair or replacement of any defects identified during the inspection of structures and walls. 


Councillor Evans referred to the defect identification criteria on page 21 of the report and expressed the view that cycleways should be moved into the same category as footways. 


The Highways Network Manager acknowledged the points raised around signage, structures, walls, railings, repair times, and cycleways, and said he would consider the suggestions in the final draft to Cabinet.


Councillor Owen Thomas commented on the timescale for potholes to be repaired and said in his Ward there was evidence that potholes had been waiting months for repairs to be carried out.    He also referred to the poor condition of some pavements which were unsafe for pedestrians to use due to surface moss and overhanging trees and hedges.  Councillor Thomas expressed concerns around public safety and said residents should be held responsible for maintaining overhanging branches and foliage onto public footways. 


In response to the matters raised the Highways Network Manager explained that the issue of overgrown hedges and defects on pavements was addressed by the Environmental Enforcement Policy and where appropriate residents were advised of their responsibility to maintain their boundaries in terms of overhanging growth.


Referring to the repair of potholes the Chief Officer explained that there was a matrix for resurfacing works but not for repairs to potholes and said the Streetscene Area Co-ordinator was the initial point of contact for identifying and prioritising defects.   In response to a question from Councillor Andy Dunbobbin the Chief Officer agreed to circulate the link to the reporting app for potholes on the Flintshire website


            Councillor Christopher Dolphin commended the policy and sought further information on the process to ensure a repair was done when a pothole was reported.  Commenting on a road with more than 100 potholes, he felt there was a need to let Members know where a repair was on the list and whether action was going to be taken or not.  The Chief Officer reiterated that Members need to liaise with their Streetscene Area Co-ordinators who would update on progress.   In response to a further question from Councillor Dolphin, the Chief Officer advised that the patching programme was ongoing and driven by the Area Co-ordinators.  The Chief Officer and Councillor Carolyn Thomas, agreed to undertake an inspection of the problem areas with Councillor Dolphin in his Ward. 


Councillor Derek Butler commented that the volume of traffic in addition to the length of Flintshire roads should be given consideration by Welsh Government when allocating resources.




That the Committee recommends Cabinet approves the revised Highway and Car Park Inspection Policy (as in Appendix 1) which outlines the Council’s approach to all safety inspections, defect identification criteria, and response times.

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