20 May 2019Roadside grass cutting season is underway

Grass-cutting season is here and Somerset County Council will again be cutting more than 9,400km of roadside verge to help keep drivers safe – that’s the distance from Taunton to Sao Paulo.

Somerset County Council cuts roadside verges for safety purposes – to preserve visibility, provide space for pedestrians where there is no pavement, and improve the flow of water along road channels.

However, the Council is also committed to protecting wildlife where this does not conflict with safety requirements. In late 2018 the Council updated its Somerset Pollinator Action Plan which seeks to protect and enhance the amount and quality of pollinator habitat across the county.

This has led to a review of the summer grass cutting operation and for 2019 only a single 1m swathe of verge will be cut, except on specific bends and at junctions where increased visibility is required. This will protect approximately an additional 3km sq of highway verge for wildlife – that’s an area roughly the size of 191 Somerset County Cricket Cub pitches!

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “Safety is always our priority but we’re also committed to protecting wildlife where we can. We’ve reviewed our summer grass-cutting programme and believe we can reduce the amount of grass cut, saving money and preserving vital habitat for wildlife without impacting on safety.

“Of course if you do spot a hazard caused by an overgrown verge then please report it to us online so we can take action.”

Also new for 2019 is the use of a new remote controlled mower – affectionately nicknamed ‘Robochop’. This allows operatives to work safely away from the highway and also means reduced disruption for road users as in many locations there is no longer a need for lane closures or slow moving tractors in the road. You can see a short video of Robochop in action at https://youtu.be/bcQ7GFhaJlY.

Another innovation is a new online mapping feature which allows you to keep track of the summer grass cutting programme as it progresses. This can be found at www.travelsomerset.co.uk/grass-cutting where you can also find more information about grass cutting and links so you can report a problem online.

Stay up to date with Somerset County Council’s highways team by following @TravelSomerset on Twitter.

20 May 2019Growing need for Adopt a Path volunteers

With seasonal growth now appearing on paths across Somerset, volunteers are invited to help protect and maintain the county’s public rights of way.

Anyone can help get involved when they are out and about on their favourite Public Footpaths, Bridleways, Restricted Byways and Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs).

All you need to do is sign up to ‘Adopt a Path’ and report back any issues such as overgrown stiles or gates, missing or overgrown signposts or waymarks and overgrown vegetation. You can also assist a step further by helping to keep pinch points, signposts, stiles and gates vegetation free.

In return, Somerset County Council will provide help and advice, cover under our insurance policy, and provide secateurs and gloves to help volunteers keep paths in tip top condition for all to enjoy.

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “We have more than 6,000km of paths in Somerset – ranging from short urban cut-throughs to long distance trails.

“This scheme is designed to be completely flexible and really is as easy as walking the dog – perfect for those who want to help the community but don’t have the time to commit to a more time demanding role.

“Volunteers are simply asked to adopt paths they will walk no less than four times a year, and most incorporate it into routes they walk on a more regular basis.”

If you live near the Somerset coast or visit the coast regularly then you may also be interested in the England Coast Path Trail Watcher scheme. Very similar to the Adopt-a-Path role but with a specific focus on the National Trail which currently is available between Brean and Minehead.

For those who have more spare time and want to get more practically involved in keeping the network open and clear, the Somerset Strimmer scheme is a great opportunity to learn a new skill that will keep you fit.

The Somerset Strimmer scheme is where volunteers help cut back summer and winter vegetation along public footpaths and bridleways using strimmers. It is the most active of the roles because you must be capable of walking with and carrying machinery, including the kit that goes with it, and personal safety equipment.

The Strimmer Scheme is run working with parish councils, as they are asked to help fund the training.  

For more information on these schemes, please email rowvolunteers@somerset.gov.uk or apply online athttps://volunteering.somerset.gov.uk/opportunities/rights-of-way-volunteer/.

If you are not signed up as a volunteer and come across an overgrown path or any other issue on a path, you can report such problems online at www.somerset.gov.uk/rightsofway. You can find a video guide showing how to use this function at https://youtu.be/ctuedEScXzs.

To check out all Somerset County Council volunteering opportunities – from volunteer driving, helping in a library or supporting Somerset’s outdoor activity centres – click https://volunteering.somerset.gov.uk/, or contact 0300 123 2224 for more information.

Somerset County Council’s highways team will also be carrying out roadside grass cutting and verge maintenance this summer to help keep road users safe. To find out more about this work and report a problem, please visitwww.travelsomerset.co.uk/grass-cutting.

19 March 2019Make a change; become a parish councillor

Brean Parish Council is calling on residents, passionate about their community to stand in the local elections in 2019.

What do councillors do?

Councillors are the champions of their community and give residents a voice on the decisions the council makes. Becoming a councillor will allow you to make a real difference in your community by engaging with residents, local groups and businesses to find out their needs; making decisions on which services and projects the council should take forward; and getting involved locally to ensure the services are meeting your community’s needs.

How long does it take?

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) Local Councillor Census Survey found that councillors put aside, on average, three hours a week for council work. This often includes attending meetings, engaging with residents and speaking on behalf of the council to other bodies.

Can I stand?

There are only a few rules to stand for election. You must be:

A British citizen, or a citizen of the Commonwealth, or the European Union

18 years of age or older

Live in an area that is served by a local council

How can I get involved?

Contact the Clerk of Brean Parish Council at breanparishcouncil@gmail.com or 07341 977235 to find out more or visit www.nalc.gov.uk/elections

You can also find more information and download candidate packs at https://www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/article/3271/Standing-as-a-candidate-May-2019

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