In January West Sussex County Council advertised in “Connections” for people to be trained as Community Highways Volunteers. The response was fantastic with 160 people coming forward – double the number expected.
Every day, the County Council receives reports of defects from members of the public, usually via their Contact Centre. These reports include a whole range of defects such as missing road signs, muddy verges, overgrown greenery, broken paving slabs, blocked drains or potholes.
As the information received is generally a little limited, a Highways officer travels to the defect taking a photograph and recording the information required to decide the course of action taken. This takes a lot of time and a lot of petrol.
The Community Highways Volunteers initiative employs local volunteers to look at these defects, record information and email the County Council, saving the need for an officer to attend.
Volunteers are required to attend a two-three hour classroom training session (travel expenses will be provided), and over 100 have already done so. They then undertake a further ‘shadowing session’ with a Community Officer. A kit is given to each volunteer, which includes a high-visibility long-sleeved waistcoat.
The volunteers using their knowledge about their local environment cover around one mile (walking distance) in any direction from where they live or work. Volunteers will only be asked to look at defects they can walk to and never in a location with heavy traffic.
For further information telephone Sharon Hurr, West Sussex Volunteer Team on 01243 777957 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org