High Ham Parish Lengthsman - Craig Howe
"What's a Lengthsman?" is a question I often get asked, and no doubt if you are reading this you are thinking the same. Historically, a parish Lengthsman was assigned to maintain the country roads within the parish, trimming back hedges, cutting vegetation, filling in potholes and clearing ditches.
Due to changes in law and mechanisation, highway maintenance is now the responsibility of local authorities. Work can now be done in a fraction of the time it took one man using hand tools. Therefore, for a time, the role of Lengthsman disappeared.
In recent years, Lengthsmen started to make a comeback, financed by local authorities such as Somerset. This finance has now been withdrawn and parish Councils with a lengthsman are now responsible for funding the post.
Until March 2016, High Ham Parish Council was a member of the Turn Hill Partnership Lengthsman Scheme along with the parishes of Long Sutton, Long Load, Aller, Huish Episcopi and Pitney. The scheme was created in 2010 by Somerset County Council to provide for the employment of a Parish Lengthsman. Craig Howe
Craig Howe was appointed and continues to be the Parish Lengthsman for all participating Parish Councils. Two key advantages of the Parish Lengthsman: their ability to develop and use local knowledge and act rapidly to deal with problems; to work more cost-effectively compared to contracting out work.
March 31st 2016, each of the scheme's PCs took on the responsibility of drawing up their own Lengthsman contract, and the responsibility for paying Craig directly. The Lengthsman will maintain insurance policy cover for public liability and damage to property. 2016-17 Craig is contracted for 65 days.
2017 tasks include:
- Vegetation management at blind corners, verges, visibility splays, signs
- Clearance of vulnerable ditches, inlets, drains and grips
- Collection of salt from Highways depot, refilling bins
- Litter picking
- Playing Field repairs, weed control
- Pruning trees on The Green and Old Pound
- Millenium Wood - path strimming and bramble clearance; brashing, thinning and felling; construction of woodland play site
- opening up of new paths; preparation of sites for tree planting
- Liaising with MW management group and attending site meetings
- Cemetery grass cutting, management of boundary trees
- Footpath - assisting SCC Rights of Way to install Bristol Gates and repair of stiles
While Craig has a contracted programme of work, he is able to respond to problems identified by parish residents - Contact Parish Clerk or Amanda Chuter