More decisions on spending for small highway schemes will now be made locally thanks to a new arrangement which will give county councillors a new budget to spend to meet local priorities.
The Local Member Highways Budget is set to be launched at the meeting of the Environment, Development and Transport Committee next week, Wednesday 21 June. The scheme will see each county councillor have control of an annual £6000 budget which can be used on small highway works in their division.
In March this year councillors agreed to allocate the new budget totalling £504,000 a year, which could be spent on small highway works such as advisory 20mph signs outside schools, small pavement extensions and modifications, and carrying out additional maintenance to footpaths or verges.
And for at least the next two years it’s been confirmed that the new Local Member Highways Budget will be running alongside the popular Parish Partnership Scheme.
Letters will be sent out in June to parish and town councils, inviting bids for small highway improvements under the Parish Partnership Scheme. The County Council will supply £300,000 funding, to be matched by bidders. Successful bids will be announced in spring 2018.
Martin Wilby, Chairman of the Environment, Development and Transport Committee, said: “It’s the seventh year for the popular Parish Partnership Scheme and it’s great to have seen so many local highway improvements made over the years all driven by local need. We know what a difference these often small sums make so we’ve now put the new Local Member Highways Budget in place, which will see county councillors able to spend money to meet local priorities.”
The Parish Partnership scheme has developed over time since its start in September 2011 when the County Council first invited local Councils to submit bids for highway improvement schemes, offering up to half the cost of successful bids from an initial £100,000 fund, with town/parish councils contributing the balance. The intention was to ensure that limited funds could be used to meet local needs, helping promote the developing localism agenda.
The scheme has been run every year since with improvements being made over time including a boost to the available funding pot which now stands at £300,000, and for the first time last year bids from unparished wards were invited.
The scheme was originally designed for parish councils but has been amended to include unparished areas such as Norwich. While there are a number of possible schemes including such things as ‘trod footways’ and ‘village gateways’ there seems to be little of benefit to cyclists with the exception of bike racks.
If you have an idea of what is needed in your locality contact your County Councillor to see if this scheme is of any use. For a start, you could ask them to change the name to remove the reference to Parishes, clearly inappropriate for the City of Norwich.
For more information about the parish partnership and types of schemes that can be funded visit: https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/what-we-do-and-how-we-work/policy-performance-and-partnerships/partnerships/parish-partnerships-scheme