Cheshire East Council has launched a public consultation on proposed changes to its highways safety inspections and winter service activities.
The council currently carries out highways safety inspections in accordance with its current Code of Practice for Highway Safety Inspections 2013. This document was developed using the guidance provided in Well Maintained Highways, published in 2005 by the UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRLG).
Under the current code of practice the council has developed robust procedures, which have proved reliable in demonstrating compliance with legal obligations and as a defence against third-party claims.
The Department for Transport commissioned the UKRLG to develop replacement guidance for Well Maintained Highways and, in October 2016, Well Managed Highway Infrastructure (WMHI) was published. This document promotes the adoption of an integrated asset management approach to the management of highway infrastructure based on prioritising local levels of service through risk-based assessment.
This provides a number of key recommendations, particularly relating to the development of a network priority hierarchy, as well as embedding a ‘risk-based’ approach.
In order to comply with the new national guidance and adopt its recommendations, the council needs to revise its codes of practice for highway safety inspections and winter and adverse weather service. The proposed new approach – which will now be subject to public consultation – is to consider additional local risk factors, such as use, the proximity of schools, shops, transport hubs and health services.
Also, following the severe winter weather of 2013/14, the government commissioned the Transport Resilience Review, which was published in July 2014. A key finding was the need for local councils to identify a resilient network to which to give priority – in order to maintain economic activity in times of extreme weather or disruptive events.
As part of this consultation exercise, the council is looking to align its ‘resilient network’ with the recommendations of WMHI and will be liaising with relevant stakeholders to identify strategic infrastructure in the borough that may need inclusion in the ‘resilient network’.
Councillor Don Stockton, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for environment, said: “This is an important consultation, which will help us better align our management of the highways network with the levels of road usage and risk.”
The consultation will run from now until 27 August and can be accessed via the link: