Devon Local News

£2 million repairs unveiled for Devon's roads
A £2 million programme of road repairs has been unveiled by Devon County Council and Councillors are also demanding a fairer funding deal to improve maintenance of Devon's roads. Trial for rapid response to pothole repairs ~ A pilot project to help improve response times for pothole repairs in Devon is being extended while people are being encouraged to help by reporting them ~~~ November 2009

Devon performs well in roads and transport survey
DEVON County Council has won praise in a national survey on roads and transport. Devon came third out of 24 County Councils who took part in the National Highways and Transport Public Satisfaction Survey (NHT Survey). The study is the most definitive public satisfaction survey for highways and transport ever undertaken. Over half of all English Highways Authorities took part, with 76 in total, including Metropolitan Councils, Unitary Authorities and London Boroughs, as well as 24 County Councils. Devon County Council was the overall top performing authority for satisfaction with management of roadworks, and was also ranked the top County Council on satisfaction with cycle routes and local rights of way network. Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “This is another great achievement following on from our success at being named Transport Local Authority of the Year at the National Transport Awards. This survey is important as it shows that Devon residents are recognising the County Council’s efforts. The satisfaction levels were generally favourable for all of our highways and transport service, but I’m particularly pleased that we came out top in a number of areas.” The County Council also scored highly in managing highway maintenance, highway enforcement, traffic management, satisfaction with pavements and footpaths, street lighting, and overall road safety. Devon County Council will use the survey data to inform its next Local Transport Plan (LTP) and to target resources to ensure that it continues to deliver effective and efficient services. The NHT Survey questions are based on key themes of accessibility, public transport, walking/cycling, tackling congestion, road safety and highway maintenance/enforcement. The 2009 survey, organised by the National Highways and Transport Network, took place in July when 370,950 questionnaires were sent to randomly selected members of the public by Ipsos MORI. 1,900 completed questionnaires were received from Devon residents and in total 69,310 were received across the country. The results are available online at ~~~ October 2009

Energy savings for almost 9,000 street lights in Devon
A NEW street lighting policy to cut carbon and save money is being introduced across Devon, with plans to reduce the energy use of almost 9,000 street lights over the next six months. Devon County Council is currently responsible for nearly 75,000 street lights, costing £2.2million in electricity and producing nearly 20,000 tonnes of CO2 every year. As part of its carbon reduction programme, the County Council has been assessing a number of alternatives, and two phased options will now be introduced for street lighting across Devon: • Phased part-night lighting in residential areas. This will mean some street lights that were previously on all-night long will now be lit between dusk and 12:30am but will then be switched off until 5:30am, before coming on again until dawn. This is the most cost-effective solution and follows the lead of the Highways Agency by turning off non-essential street lighting between those hours, as they have done between junctions 29 and 30 of the M5 near Exeter. • Main road lighting and areas of high night-time activity, such as town centres, will remain lit all night, but consideration will be given to dimming lighting where possible. The programme is scheduled to start with around 8,700 street lights initially between now and next April. This will take in areas of Exmouth, Budleigh, Woodbury, Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, South Brent, Totnes, Bovey Tracey, Chudleigh, Kingsteignton, Hatherleigh, Chagford, Okehampton, Crediton, Newton St Cyres, Kingsbridge, Stokenham, Thurlestone, Salcombe, Allington, Yealmpton, Bideford, Northam, Ottery St Mary, Broadclyst, Whimple, Crediton, Newton St Cyres and Sandford. The conversion of lighting from all-night to part-night operations will be carried out over a five year programme across the county and will initially be included as part of planned maintenance and upgrading of lights to keep cost to a minimum. The County Council is also working with Devon and Cornwall Police on the programme to ensure that considerations of crime, disorder and road safety in residential areas are taken into account during the decision-making process. Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “The County Council is no different from anyone else – we’re also facing the cost of rising energy bills and we’re trying to reduce our emissions. That’s why it’s necessary to reduce our street lighting energy consumption and the money saved can be re-invested in further measures to reduce our carbon footprint. “By switching lights off in mainly residential areas between 12:30am and 5:30am and by dimming all other lighting, energy consumption, carbon emissions and energy costs are expected to reduce by a third by the end of the programme. Let’s not forget that as well as the savings of carbon and money, this new policy will also reduce light pollution or ‘sky glow’, so it will provide a better view of the night sky.” Devon County Council’s annual emissions total almost 62,000 tonnes of CO2, of which street lighting accounts for about 30%, consuming 37 million kWh of energy. This is the equivalent to the total annual energy use of 7,300 average Devon homes - a town about the size of Honiton in East Devon. It costs between £20 and £30 to convert a street light to part-night lighting, but the energy savings will cover this cost within about 3 years, so the part-night solution is a cost effective way to cut Devon’s carbon emissions. Because of its energy consumption in street lighting, Devon County Council is included in the Government’s mandatory ‘Carbon Reduction Commitment’ for large private and public sector organisations. This scheme aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by putting a price on carbon. To buy the pollution permits needed in 2010, for street lighting alone, will cost the County Council over £200,000 – and that is on top of the £2.2 million annual energy cost for street lighting. It is estimated that part-night lighting could save up to 4,000 tonnes of CO2 and reduce the present energy bill by £450,000. These emissions savings would go a long way to meet both the national and local emissions reduction targets. Part night lighting schemes already installed in some parts of Devon are working well and some communities are already coming forward asking to be included in the street lighting carbon reduction programme. The South Devon village of Aveton Gifford is among those to have already converted to part-night lighting and the community is delighted to have made the switchover. John Coates, Chairman of Aveton Gifford Parish Council, said: “The change has been very well received and switching the lights off overnight is much more suited to a rural community. The philosophy in the village towards global warming is that if we’re not going to do something, who is? So the environment was the driving factor behind approaching the County Council for part-night lighting, but when we heard the figures on money and power savings, the attraction was even greater. Safety has been considered as there’s still a light at the subway which stays on all night, but we’re enjoying the star lit nights.” Part-night lighting has already been introduced elsewhere in the country in Buckinghamshire, Essex, Gloucester, Hampshire and Oxfordshire. ~~~ October 2009

£2 million extra to repair Devon's roads
From Adrian Lane, Exeter 383262, April 23, 2009
AN additional £2 million is being provided by Devon County Council to deal with immediate repairs needed on the county's roads and pavements following the severe winter weather. The County Council Executive today (Thursday 23 April) agreed to the cash injection to deal with potholes and other safety defects on Devon's roads. A winter of extreme flooding, snow and colder temperatures than the 30 year average has left an estimated damage bill of around £11million. More than £3million of repairs have been carried out on some of the immediate damage, and that is on top of £700,000 on additional salting, but a further £2 million is also needed to prevent increased costs in future. Formal submissions for funding to help with this extra expense will shortly be issued to Government by the County Council under Bellwin Rules and a Department for Transport scheme relating to exceptional weather events, but there is no guarantee of receiving financial help. Devon County Council Leader Brian Greenslade said: "It's not just about money for road repairs as the money will also be spent on pavements as well. We're trying to get more resources on top of what we're doing ourselves by applying to the Government under Bellwin Rules. We have actually increased highway spending by 7% per annum over the past two years, and we are looking at a 9.5% increase this year with this additional funding, so we are giving it priority." Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment, said: "Potholes will appear because the fabric of the road has been damaged by the severe weather. I think we should welcome the fact that this County Council is trying to deal with the problem and I would like to pay tribute to the enormous effort our staff have made during the winter and in dealing with this." Devon has the largest road network of any local highway authority with 12,831km - or almost 8,000 miles ~~~ May 2009

County judged top performer by Audit Commission From Tony Parker, Exeter 382535, March 05,2009. Independent inspectors say that Devon County Council is an "excellent council" and have given the authority a 4 star overall rating in its latest judgement on performance. Inspectors also say that the council is "improving well". The 4 star rating - the top mark possible - has been awarded by the Audit Commission as part of its regular Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) inspection looking at the full range of council services and overall value for money. The County Council is also judged to have shown continued improvement over the past year and has demonstrated "significant progress" against key priorities. All major services including those for children, older people and environmental services are said to be "performing well" and consistently above minimum requirements. The performance in services such as libraries and trading standards is even stronger and well above minimum requirements. The council is also judged to be doing well in managing its finances and providing overall value for money to the people of Devon. The report highlights that school results are improving and children's services are now rated as "good" overall. Older people's services have also improved including quicker assessment of the needs of vulnerable people and faster delivery times for equipment. Youth offending rates are low and recycling rates, which are now running at 53.5 per cent, remain excellent ~~~ March 2009

Lowest Council Tax increase ever! From Mike Bomford, Exeter 382173, February 10, 2009. Devon County Council's Executive has proposed a new budget for stability and for the local economy, and with it the lowest increase in Council Tax in this Council's history. The Leader of the Council reaffirmed today that despite uncertainties surrounding the economic downturn, the County Council's finances remain in a robust and stable position. The local economy is a high priority with the County Council targeting an additional £5.75 million for economic regeneration plus, keeping the large capital programme in schools and roads intact. Council Tax will be squeezed hard. At a 2.89%, this year's increase by the County Council is the lowest rise in Council Tax since the County Council started operating in April 1998. That increase would see the County Council's share of the Council Tax representing £1,094.67 for Band D properties. The Executive Committee will recommend the proposed budget to the Council's Full Council when it meets on the 19th February. This new financial year, the County Council, which is responsible for providing over 85% of the county's local government services, proposes to invest a gross figure of £865 million in services. Roads, road safety including cycling will see a considerable rise in investment overall by 11.48% to £79 million. This includes maintenance to Devon's road network - at 8,000 miles Devon's is the largest network of any local authority in the country. . ~~~ February 2009

Major Road Work THE major roads into North Devon will be getting a £150,000 trim over the next three months. Specialist Contractors, Wessex Tree Surgeons, will be working for Devon County Council on a programme of tree and hedge trimming from Monday 5 January, starting on the A39 Atlantic Highway from Barnstaple to Abbotsham and then on to the A361 North Devon Link Road from Tiverton to Barnstaple. Many of the trees planted when the roads were built over 20 years ago, are now growing to obscure road signs, and reduce visibility on bends. They will be carefully trimmed back to maintain the safety of the roads. The work will involve some lane closures which will be managed by South West Highways. Traffic should not be inconvenienced, but drivers should take extra care when passing the working areas. ~~~ January 2009

Award for recycling in Bideford Award for recycling centre and road safety changes in Bideford Caddsdown Industrial Estate recycling centre has been recognised as one of the best in the country and new road safety measures are to be introduced on the outskirts of Bideford ~~~ December 2008

Bideford Longbridge REPAIR work on the Bideford Longbridge will get underway on Monday 22 September. Devon County Council has awarded the contract for concrete repairs and cathodic protection to the Grade One listed structure, to Concrete Repairs Ltd of Bristol. The £2.1 million scheme is expected to take 10 months to complete and involves carrying out extensive repairs to the concrete beams supporting the footways on each side, together with the installation of cathodic protection which will considerably extend the life of the repairs. This technique applies a small electrical current into the concrete to stop the corrosion of the steel reinforcement. Discussions with English Heritage are underway on the submission of a listed building consent application to renew the under bridge flood lighting and also to replace the existing lamp columns mounted on the bridge, with columns designed to be more in keeping with the listed status of the bridge ~~~ September 2008

Devon rocks! Devon County Council is helping to mark 2008 as the International Year of Planet Earth - Read more ~~~ February 2008

Repair plan approved for Bideford Longbridge Devon County Council's Executive has approved proposals to repair the historic Bideford Longbridge - Read more ~~~ February 2008

Northcott Theatre is saved - Arts Council back-track on funding threat Thank you for all your support! The Northcott Theatre in Exeter has been saved from closure. A 26,374 signature petition was presented to the Arts Council Board - 1,000 of these signatures were generated by Devon County Council library users in just over a week. Many thanks to everyone across the county who backed this campaign ~~~ February 2008

It is understood that the Government's terms of reference for the independent Boundary Committee Review of local government in Devon will be published early next week. We will provide further information as soon as it is available ~~~ February 2008

Devon's recycling rate hits the big "50" Devon received the perfect Christmas gift as the recycling rate reached 50% ~~~ January 2008

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