Communities to have say on street repair

Communities across Norfolk are to get a greater say in the appearance of their streets after the launch of a pilot aimed at giving road workers new powers to deal with “on-the-spot” repairs.

Communities across Breckland are to get a greater say in the appearance of their streets after the launch of a pilot aimed at giving road workers new powers to deal with “on-the-spot” repairs.

Under the new scheme, being trialled in more than 30 parishes in south Norfolk and Breckland, residents will be able to request highways maintenance staff to carry out small-scale jobs like cleaning road signs, trimming roadside hedges, and street sweeping.

Officials from Norfolk County Council said the highway community ranger project, which will come from the authority's existing �27m budget for road works, gritting and fixing potholes, aims to give towns and villages a more “responsive” and “flexible” service. They hope to roll the programme out across Norfolk from April, if the three-month experiment proves a success.

As part of the trial, two gangs of road workers will be wearing visible reflective 'community ranger' jackets while they carry out their scheduled kerbing, surface patching, and pothole works. They have also been given a set list of on-the-spot jobs that can be requested by residents, including cleaning signs, clearing gullies and gratings, sweeping muddy roads, and trimming roadside hedges and vegetation.

Alison Smith, customer services officer at Norfolk County Council's planning and transportation department, said the new service was not anticipated to cost taxpayers more because the extra time the community rangers spend in towns and villages will be offset by less travelling to depots to report new jobs.

“We already respond to a high number of reports from the local community and rely heavily on them. We are now empowering our road workers to make decisions on-the-spot and to make our service more responsive and flexible and to improve the street scene.

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“They now have a list of defined extra jobs and it is up to them to prioritise and decide if they can do it. They are small jobs, but make a difference to how people view their streets. The message is that they are happy to hear from anyone local, but we cannot promise it will be done straight away,” she said.

The trial is being run in Breckland parishes Ashill, Necton, Beetley, Wendling, Garvestone, Carbrooke, Beeston with Bittering, Mileham, Weeting, Great Ellingham, Old Buckenham, Croxton, Wretham, Mundford, Bawdeswell, Horningtoft, Caston, Rocklands, Narborough, Beachamwell, Lyng, Swanton Morley, Banham, and Kenninghall.

In South Norfolk it will operate in Diss, Scole, Roydon, Tivetshall, Winfarthing, Shelfanger, Bunwell, Carleton Rode, and Tacolneston.

Residents can report a problem by approaching the community rangers in the street, contacting their local parish council, or by calling the highways service line on 0844 8008009.