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  Lancashire Local – West Lancashire District Council Meeting to be held on 29 th  September 2004 Item No. 5 Grass Cutting Maintenance Contact for further information:Ian F Hornby, 01772 534485, Lancashire County Council, Environment Directorate Executive Summary  A report on the present grass cutting policy of Lancashire County Council. Decision Required The Lancashire Local – West Lancashire is requested to consider the report. Background Lancashire County Council as the highway authority is responsible for the maintenance of the highway network and an integral part of the network consists of areas of highway verge and planted areas. The current County Council policy for thetreatment of highway verges was developed with reference to the National Code of Practice for Highways Maintenance, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and the resources andpriorities of the Highways Service at that time.Horticultural maintenance on the adopted highway network is undertaken to assist in the improvement of the environment by implementing a management strategy which fulfils safety requirements but is compatible with wildlife conservation, to prevent obstruction of sight lines, to inhibit the growth of injurious weeds (in accordance with the Weeds Act 1959 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990) to maintain a tidy appearance and to prevent encroachment onto paved areas.The policy for cutting of grass on various roads is indicated below. The references torural roads are those with speed limits in excess of 40mph; whilst urban are those below 40pmh. Practice for grass cutting on Rural Roads i.Where the verge is wider than 3 metres it is to be managed in three zones:ZONE AThe zone adjacent to the carriageway is the safety swathe anda 1 metre width should be cut twice a year. A third cut may be required, dependent on rate of growth, on A and B roads.ZONE CA 1-metre zone at the rear of the verge is to be left uncut and  - 2 -undisturbed apart from a nominal amount of winter thinning and coppicing.ZONE BThe intervening zone is the mid verge of variable width, and is to receive a single annual cut in August/September (concurrentwith the 2nd safety swathe cut)ii.Where the verge is less than 3 meters, there should be a safety swathe (Zone A). The remainder of the verge being Zone C. There is no mid verge.iii.Where there is a verge between the carriageway and footway it should be managed as follows: -a)the width is 2 metres or less - the safety swathe should be extended tothe full width of the intervening verge. A 600mm wide safety swathe should be cut at the rear of the footway.b)the width is over 2 metres - the safety swathe adjacent to the carriageway should be 1 metre. A 600mm safety swathe should be cutat both sides of the footway. The remaining intervening verge is mid verge (Zone B). The remaining verge beyond the safety swathe at the rear of the footway is Zone C.iv.Sight lines at junctions and on the inside of bends should be cut as described for the safety swathe.(NOTE: All cuttings to be left in-situ)v.Where the verge includes rare or unusual species or has a rich diversity of plants then a particular management prescription may be required. These specific management regimes override the above standards. Practice for grass cutting on Urban Roads In urban areas there is a clear highway need as distinct from any local amenity consideration for grass to be kept shorter than about 150mm. If grass is allowed to grow longer than this it becomes necessary to remove cuttings. Furthermore long grass can conceal debris, which can become a safety problem if left unattended. An average of 5 cuts a year is normally required to achieve these standards, although there may be a need for local variation.The County Council as Highway Authority has responsibility for and to cut grass verges for safety reasons whilst District Councils cut grass in urban areas for reasons of amenity under their own powers. These standards vary accordingly, reflecting the respective duties and aims, with those of the County Council being generally of a lower standard than those of the amenity standard adopted by the District Councils.  - 3 -The highways verge maintenance work in District core areas was, previous to the Lancashire Highways Partnership (LHP), being undertaken through the District arrangements for their amenity functions. The removal of the highways element of work to the single Contract would have resulted in two standards and two contractorsundertaking the work with the resultant inefficiencies and duplications not seen as providing Best Value.The County Council, therefore, allocates the verge maintenance resource as previously, with the LCC allocation being taken as a contribution to the District Council Amenity Verge Maintenance under the management of the District Engineer.This arrangement was subject to review in line with the LHP overall but is subject to the overriding condition that the District Council Amenity Standard must be of a standard greater than the LCC standard contained within the current Code of Practice. This was accepted and is the present method of procurement of grass cutting in the District core areas of the County.The County Council undertook a Decision Conferencing Process in 2003/04 in order to prioritise the overall County Council services and consequent resources available.Part of this exercise had an impact on verge maintenance and is indicated below:(1)To remove the third safety swathe cut to grass in rural areas that had beencarried out as necessary dependant upon growing conditions with the maximum number of cuts rurally now being twice.(2)Delete all routine landscaping maintenance, except emergency reactive works.The removal of the third safety swathe cut, restricting to a maximum of two will only affect A and B roads that were generally cut previously, in line with the policy. It will not have an effect on urban roads and the contribution to the District Councils for those Urban Amenity Areas upon which they undertake the grass cutting. Consultations N/A. Advice N/A. Alternative options to be considered N/A.  - 4 - Implications : e.g. Financial, Legal, Personnel, Human Rights, Crime and Disorder or Other N/A. Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985List of Background Papers PaperDateContact/Council/Tel NoHighways Maintenance Code of PracticeLancashire County Council Code of Practice for Highway Maintenance1988/20021994I F Hornby, Lancashire County Council, 01772 534485I F Hornby, Lancashire County Council, 01772 534485Reason for inclusion in Part II, if appropriateN/A.

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