To receive a verbal update from the Area Managers from Technical Services and Neighbourhood Services in attendance about any key recent, ongoing and/or future planned Local Services work for the attention of members of the Local Area Council, who will also then have the opportunity to raise issues with the Area Managers.
The Area Managers have principal responsibility for highway services and environmental services, such as refuse collection, street cleansing and grounds maintenance, within the geographic boundaries of the Local Area Council.
G Bucknall, Highways Area Delivery Managed advised of the progress made in respect of the very challenging Capital Programme, working non-stop since April despite Covid. Of the 205 carriageway and footpath schemes in the County, 110 had been completed, of which 59 were in the northern area with 34 completed. He outlined the schemes in the Northern area which had been competed since the previous meeting and the schemes which were to be delivered within the next few weeks. He advised that tenders had just been received for several footpath schemes and a major structural patching scheme programmed on the B6342 Rothbury to Coldrife. The maintenance crews were very busy repairing pot holes and clearing gullies on a daily basis. Winter services were in full swing following a quiet start to the season with 49 full gritting runs undertaken with 28 front line gritters along with additional runs and secondary routes where snow and ice persist and in excess of 10,000 tonnes of salt used.
He advised that work on the footpaths would be commenced before the end of March. Councillor Bridgett advised that the residents of both Glanton and Tossen had been appreciative of the work undertaken in those areas. He highlighted that work was also to be undertaken on the B6342 Rothbury to Coldrife in connection with the new development and suggested that the schemes should be coordinated if possible. He also requested that the road at Alwinton before the bridge was inspected, as he suspected that whilst patching might be fine in the short term it would require a more permanent fix.
Councillor Hill advised that the work at Billingdene had received lots of compliments by residents for both the quality of the road and the help which had been provided by the workmen. In response to her question regarding the hard standings to be provided on Main Street in Spittal within the next two weeks, it was confirmed that the work would be undertaken before the end of March and he would clarify the timescale.
Councillor Renner-Thompson advised that the work undertaken on St. Aidans at Seahouses had been very well received although a dropped kerb was still required. He had advised the Town Council that this could be provided through his Small Schemes budget. In respect of the progress of the rumble strips in Bamburgh which had broken up Mr Bucknall advised that he would visit the location as work was ongoing with the design of a safety scheme and it would be unlikely that resurfacing work would be undertaken at the current time.
Councillor Thorne advised he was delighted at the road improvement schemes which had been undertaken across the County. Clarification would be sought on any proposed traffic calming measures on the newly resurfaced Rothbury Road.
In response to Councillor Seymour’s question regarding the resurfacing and flooding of the North Road, Members were advised that no resurfacing could be undertaken until the flood alleviation scheme had been implemented and it was expected that this design would be undertaken in 2021/22 and it would be constructed in 2022/23. It was expected that the lining works on the Golden Square roundabout would be completed in March or April this year.
Councillor Watson congratulated and thanked officers for the way in which they had worked with him in designing a first class scheme for the footpaths in Warkworth. He highlighted that the entrance to Druridge Bay Country Park which was in a bad state of repair.
In response to a query from Councillor Castle in respect of the provision of a footpath beside the football pitch which was a route to the school, Mr Bucknall advised that he would look into the progress of this.
B Hodgson, Neighbourhood Services Area Manager provided an update to Members advising that it had been a very long and challenging year and he recognised and praised the efforts of all the staff. The refuse collection service had worked very well over Christmas period, during some unfavourable weather conditions but there had been minimal missed bins in this area with increased tonnage of waste generated.
The regular grounds maintenance winter works were well under way with additional requests undertaken. In respect of street cleansing, leaf clearance routes were completed and the regular sweeping schedules were now being used. There had been three of the trial kerbside glass collections and presentation rates and yields had exceeded expectation in the Alnwick area. During December, free trees were given out to residents at 11 locations spread across the county as part of the Free Tree Scheme. Ultimately, the Council aimed to give away 15,000 trees and was on target to achieve this in the coming months.
Councillor Castle advised that the gritting had gone to plan in his area and he had received no complaints, which was very unusual and asked that his thanks be passed on. Councillor Hill advised that there had initially been some complaints with gritting in her area, which had swiftly been replaced by compliments when issues were dealt with and even smaller areas had been treated. She asked for reassurance that there were contingency plans in place should crews become ill due to Covid to ensure the continuity of the service. She also queried if refuse collectors would be prioritised for the lateral flow testing which was to be implemented. P Jones, Service Director, Local Services advised that there were very robust working arrangements to protect staff and very low infection rates had been reported in this area, however in one depot 9 refuse staff had reported sick in one day. There was contingency planning in place and where there was an interruption in service this had been implemented and missed collections had been caught up by the next day. In response to a query regarding the Town Council being unable to deposit clothing donations which had been left outside charity shops at the local recycling point, it was clarified that these were only licensed for householders and any other waste must go through the waste transfer station. He asked that the Town Clerk get in touch to look into the possibility of permits being granted.
Councillor Bridgett thanked both the Highways and Neighbourhood Services teams for their excellent working during the pandemic and the winter so far. He advised that the 4 x 4 vehicle with hopper had been able to grit estate roads where tractors/gritters had been unable to do so in the past and this had been very much welcomed by residents and had been a brilliant resource. He also highlighted that two workmen had been instrumental in an elderly resident being able to be transferred to hospital from a sheltered housing unit with the NEAS being extremely grateful for their assistance. He requested if it would be possible for additional glass recycling bins to be provided as they had become full very quickly during lockdown and requested that the collection be moved to Alnwick rather than Morpeth. Mr Hodgson advised that this was being looked at and extra runs were being provided to empty bins and discussions were being held with P Jones around the changes.
RESOLVED that the information be noted.