Parish Council News

Offwell Parish Council Accounts

Please see attached copies of the Parish Council Accounts for 2015/16 Parish Council Accounts 1

Parish Council Accounts 2

Parish and County Council Responsibilities 

The following two emails have been received by the Parish Council from Devon County Council in answer to Parish Council queries regarding parish and county council responsibilities over road maintenance, clearing of ditches, repair of pot holes and the new Community Road Warden Scheme. The following two letters are from Victor Gough of the Community Road Warden Scheme and Tom Vaughan, the Neighbourhood Highway Manager for East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon and North Devon. The Parish Council feel it is important that everyone has a chance to read this information. If any parishioners are interested in learning more about or volunteering for the Road Warden Scheme can they please contact the clerk

Letter from Victor Gough:

First of all, with regard to your question about verges and ditches in front of properties, I am not sure on the precise answer but I will find out and get back to you.  In general, they would be the responsibility of the owner of the adjacent land.  How that relates to a building or garden as opposed to farmland, I am not sure but I will find out.  It may be down to the individual property, in which case a land registry search may hold the answer.

Your remaining questions highlight a, not uncommon, misunderstanding.  DCC has not devolved responsibility for highway works to local councils nor does it set any level of expectation on what a local council should be doing.

As I’m sure you appreciate there has been a drastic reduction in funding from central government and the highways department has had to bear its share of the consequent cuts.  There was extensive consultation (under the “Tough Choices” banner)  on how these cuts should be applied and one of the outcomes was that the lengthsman service should be reduced. This has translated into a reduction in the number of lengthsmen and a reduction in the scope of their work. Now a lengthsman’s work comprises solely of an annual clear out of drainage features (gullies will be hand cleared only) in the course of bi-annual visits. All other activities that have traditionally been done by the lengthsman will no longer be done.

What we are not saying is that the local council must or even should make up the shortfall, rather that if the council decides that it would like to undertake some or all of the work formerly done by the lengthsman, then DCC will support that in terms of a) access to equipment b) provision of Chapter 8 training (nominally one volunteer per parish) to ensure that when working on or near a live carriageway workers and highway users are kept safe c) provision of public liability insurance for any works undertaken by or under the direct supervision of someone who has Chapter 8 accreditation.

With regard to potholes, we are currently trialling a product that, if successful (and I believe it will be), will provide a means by which local councils can fill them in.  This is not widely available yet.

Also, I need to make clear that DCC remains obliged to address any highway issue that is classed as a safety defect.  Regular highway inspections will continue, at a frequency dependent upon the category of highway.

I hope this clarifies the situation for you but please phone or email me if I can be of any further help.

Victor Gough, Community Road Warden Scheme

Letter from Tom Vaughan:

No highway maintenance responsibility has been devolved to the parishioners of Offwell.  Communities are encouraged to come together and help each other to deliver much needed minor maintenance works occurring due to service reductions as a result of declining local maintenance budgets. This work may include sign cleaning and the repair of minor potholes if there is a desire from the parish and the capability to do so.  Devon Highways will work with parishes to enable this to happen with training and support.  Through certain schemes, such as the Road Warden and Snow Warden, the support may include third party insurance.  More details can be found at the following link: 

We only carry out repairs on potholes which are over 40mm deep and greater than 300mm in any horizontal direction. If a pothole meets these criteria it is classed as a safety defect and we will do a temporary or permanent repair. The type of repair depends on the category of the road.

The extent of the highway is generally considered to be the face of the wall or hedge on one side of the road to the face of the wall or hedge on the opposite side of the road.

Landowners have an obligation under the Highways Act to ensure that the trees on their land do not endanger highway users.  Where the trees are within the extent of the highway they remain the responsibility of Devon County Council as Highway Authority.

Under the Highways Act, roadside hedges are the responsibility of the landowner who has to:

  1. prevent the hedge from overhanging the highway
  2. prevent hedges from obscuring street lights and road signs
  3. clear the road of debris after hedges have been cut
  4. meet the obligations of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 ensuring that nesting birds, bats and dormice are protected.

In the majority of cases the responsibility for ditch maintenance rests with the adjacent landowner.  The Highway Authority has a prescriptive right to drain the highway to adjoining roadside ditches.  Common Law imposes a duty on the owner of land adjoining a highway to maintain these ditches that provide natural drainage for both the land and highway.

I hope this information is of assistance.  There is further general information which is likely to be of interest to Parish Councils at the following link:




Neighbourhood Highway Manager, (East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon, North Devon)


Responding to Major Floods

The Association of British Insurers has produced a brochure ‘Responding to Major Floods’ which explains how your insurance company will respond in an emergency situation where your home has been flooded. It sets out the support you can expect from your insurer in the days, weeks and months after a major flood.

You can obtain a copy of the brochure from the Citizens Advice Bureau, The Library, 48-50 New Street, Honiton, Devon EX14 1BS

If you think that your home may be flooded call The Environment Agency

on 0845 988 1188.

If you feel in danger from rising floodwater at any point ring 999

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