Oxfordshire Together – Update February 2016

As you will be aware, in September 2015 we launched Oxfordshire Together, marking the beginning of engagement with local councils to assess their interest in taking on the delivery of some highway services that the council will no longer be able to deliver in the future or will only deliver to the statutory minimum standard.

Over the past five months a significant number of parishes have come forward expressing an interest in the proposal, and we have now refined the Oxfordshire Together offer in light of the discussions we have had with parishes. Please find below a briefing note on the latest Oxfordshire Together news & next steps.

We would like to thank all of the town and parish councils that have come forward so far.  We are very aware that the collation of data has taken longer than we had initially stated and your patience has been much appreciated. We are very keen to work with all local councils within the county and we would consider requests to come and meet with you on an individual or cluster basis.

If you would like to arrange a meeting or have any questions about Oxfordshire Together you can contact us at localities@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

Andreea Anastasiu

Policy & Performance Officer Corporate Services
Oxfordshire County Council,
County Hall, New Road,  Oxford OX1 1ND

Telephone: 01865 323 535

Email: andreea.anastasiu@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Oxfordshire Together
Highway Services
Giving communities control over local services
Update – February 2016
In September 2015 we launched Oxfordshire Together, marking the beginning of engagement with local councils to assess their interest in taking on the delivery of some highway services that the council will no longer be able to deliver in the future or will only deliver to the statutory minimum standard. Since the launch of the Oxfordshire Together offer we have met with a number of town and parish councils to explain each service in greater detail and identify the best possible delivery solutions for our communities.

Over the past five months a significant number of parishes have come forward expressing an interest in the proposal, and we have now refined the Oxfordshire Together offer in light of the discussions we have had with parishes. We have been working to develop the legal agreements for town and parish councils, and have sought clarity from our insurers around liability in the event of an incident.

The grass cutting figures and maps have taken longer than initially expected to generate due to issues with a software package that we have recently purchased, but we are aiming to have all the grass maps ready by the end of February 2016. We are delighted that a number of councils are now exploring the possibility of clustering together to provide services. Following a number of requests from parish councils, we are prepared to help support Community Action days by providing basic traffic management.

The initial rollout of the programme is scheduled for April 2016, when we hope the first Legal Agreements will be signed. These agreements will include detailed schedules that outline the funding available (if offered with the service), and a description and required minimum standards for each service that is taken up.

We would like to thank all of the town and parish councils that have come forward so far. We are very aware that the collation of data has taken longer than we had initially stated and your patience has been much appreciated. We are very keen to work with all local councils within the county and we would consider requests to come and meet with you on an individual or cluster basis.

If you would like to arrange a meeting or have any questions about Oxfordshire Together you can contact us at localities@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

What are the highway services within the scope of Oxfordshire Together?

The following services are being offered to town and parish councils for delivery:
 Urban grass cutting
 Rural grass cutting
 Weed control
 Vegetation cutback & Footway siding
 Serving of Section 154 notifications letters
 Salt Bin Management
 Public Rights Of Way
 School Crossing Patrols
 Epicormic / Basal tree growth removal
 GIS Mapping of highway street furniture
 Public Highway Inspection
 Drainage notifications
 Grip maintenance

What are the changes to the original services?

 Vegetation cutback & Footway siding have been merged together as both of these services can be transferred under the same element of the statutory legislation.

 Tree planting has been removed as town and parish councils already have this power under Section 96 of the Highways Act. We would still like local councils to propose new tree or shrub planting locations to enhance the green infrastructure.

 Roundabout Management and Sponsorship: due to a low volume of requests from town and parish councils it is proposed that this service is undertaken at a district council level.
 Grip maintenance (drainage channels within a verge): we propose that where grips have been cut as part of a highways maintenance scheme the relevant town or parish council for the area maintains the grips in the future. There will be a small grant attached to this service.

What level of Public Liability Insurance is required?

The insurance aspect of the service transfer has discussed with our Insurance Team and our insurers, Zurich Municipal. We are confident that all of the services on offer will be covered from an insurance perspective either by Oxfordshire County Council or the local town or parish council on a risk ownership basis.

The town, parish or cluster lead should inform its insurers of its involvement in the scheme and providers will be required to put in place a £10,000,000 public liability indemnity and a minimum of £5,000,000 employer’s liability insurance. Where a service contract is used, the operative should also have this level of indemnity.

Service providers (town and parish councils) will be responsible for creating method statements and risk assessment of all activities and ensuring that all mitigation measures arising from the risk assessments are in place. We will offer advice to town and parish councils to help them create these documents if they need assistance. Ultimately the county council will retain the majority of the liability for the highway services under Oxfordshire Together as the county council is deemed to be the Local Highways Authority that delivers the statutory functions. Liability will only transfer to a town or parish council if the organisation has not met the specified minimum criteria that are identified in the legal agreement.

What services are town and parish councils most interested in?

The enquiries relating to each service to date are as follows:

ot

Next Steps

You can read more about the Oxfordshire Together programme on the council’s website at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/oxfordshiretogether. We will soon be publishing an updated Highway Services booklet detailing the services in scope and the other operational and legal aspects that you might be interested in.

As we are getting ready to release the legal agreements, we will very soon invite the first tranche of local parishes that have expressed an interest in taking on services to sign the agreements and start the initial rollout of this new way of delivering services for our residents. We will be reviewing the approach six months into the delivery of the new model.

If you are still considering whether your town or parish council might be able to take on some of the services within the scope of this offer, it is not too late to get in touch with us at localities@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

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