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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Parish Lengthsman

The Parish Lengthsman Scheme

The Parish Lengthsman Scheme is a form of "Localism" and provides an enhanced and more responsive local level of service and control which results in improvement to the environment within the local communities and an increase in the satisfaction of the parishioners. However it does need support in terms of financial commitment from SCC and WSC otherwise if the scheme falters it will end up costing them and us more.

The Parish Lengthsman is a medieval solution to a very modern problem. The ancient role of the Lengthsman, who would "walk the length of the parish" to ensure ditches and drains were clear.

When County Councils came into being in the late 1880s, they were   charged with maintaining 'main' roads, roughly 25% of the highway   network. It became common practice for day-to-day maintenance to be   undertaken by a number of roadmen, each appointed to maintain a length   of road. This gave rise to the term, ‘the lengthsman’. Over time, greater mechanisation and centralisation replaced Lengthsman with area-based work teams, controlled from County and District offices and depots.

In April 2009 Dulverton Town Council (DTC) instigated along with number of other parishes to launch a local initiative, the   'Lengthsman Scheme,' to devolve some minor highway works to Parish Councils. The Parish Lengthsman is not intended to be a replacement or duplication of core services, but an enhancement, however it is apparent that should the scheme fail or be reduced there would be additional costs to Somerset Country Council (SCC) and West Somerset Council (WSC) hence it is in their best interests that   they continue with some financial support to keep the scheme up and   running.

Each parish is unique, with a different mix of landscapes and a differing balance of environmental factors to consider, hence the benefits of local knowledge and experience is able to shape the programme of works undertaken and allows local inhabitants to have a direct say in what they believe would best benefit their parish.

DTC   administrates this scheme and handles the employment of a local handyman to undertake work which is funded by the Exmoor Parishes in the scheme and WSC. Whilst the costs of employment would be prohibitive for any of the individual partners, by coming together,   benefits can be achieved. The Works carried out by Lengthsman can range from clearing minor storm debris discharged onto the highway,   cutting back overgrown hedges encroaching on footways and verge cutting as required by the parish or more generally those minor jobs   that need doing.