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Suffolk Highways outlines details of community self-help scheme for minor roadworks

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Suffolk Highways workers resurfacing a road (6405653)
Suffolk Highways workers resurfacing a road (6405653)

Details have been unveiled for a Suffolk scheme that could see parish volunteers carrying out low-level roadworks.

The Community Self Help scheme was first mooted by Suffolk Highways in the spring, in response to severe funding pressures and the harsh winter opening up scores of potholes.

During the county council scrutiny committee last month, Cllr Mary Evans, cabinet member for highways, revealed four options for the scheme.

The first two would allow town and parish councils to buy services needed in their area, either from Suffolk Highways, or from another reputable contractor.

The third features trained employees in communities carrying out work, with the fourth enabling community volunteers to do the work, led by a parish warden trained by Suffolk Highways.

“What we have come up with are four options, and we are holding meetings with the legal team, so the directions are correct, but not so overly legalistic,” she said.

“We are having a stakeholder meeting in January with towns and villages keen to be involved in the scheme.”

Some bodies, such as Sudbury town council, have already piloted some options.

It is not yet clear when the initiative will launch.

Sudbury councillor Jack Owen, Labour’s highways spokesman, said: “The plan to persuade town and parish councils to do their own highways work is another example of the Conservative county council shirking its responsibilities.

“By passing the responsibility, the council is essentially cutting services by the backdoor.

“They have no plan on how these services will be paid for. You can be absolutely sure the county council will not be giving residents a rebate, now they are not fulfilling their obligations.

“There is a real concern that parish and town councils will need to increase their portion of the council tax to pay for this, something which I find unacceptable.”