Parish Volunteer Footpath Strimmer

Parish Volunteer Footpath Strimmer

Recent Strimmer Activity 

June 2020: Nick Fear, our Parish Volunteer Footpath Strimmer, has been given the ok to commence his work in strimming overgrown footpaths in our parish. he has started by learning the very overgrown footpath that leads from Breach Furlong Lane to Sedgemoor Hill and on to Eastfield Nature Reserve. 'Before and After' photos taken by Nick.

  

                                       

The Somerset Strimmer Project is run by Somerset County Council (SCC). It uses Parish Councils and volunteers to help the SCC Rights of Way Service maintain its duty for keeping public footpaths, bridleways, and restricted byways clear of vegetation. The use of volunteers is fully funded directly by the SCC. Volunteers are given appropriate training and the use of a strimmer and protective equipment to do the job.

In July 2019 Following Tony Whitford deciding to relinquish  the post of Volunteervstrimmer, High Ham Parish Council advertised for a volunteer to strim its footpaths. One volunteer from the Parish came forward, Nick Fear. Many thanks must go to Tony for establishing the role, working hard to keep the paths clear, and for leading the Parish Walks.

Strimming operations are broadly made up of two phases: the first involves inspection of the site/ location to check out any H&S issues, access and the scope of the work to be done; the second involves the actual strimming. Inspections are often carried out on separate days from actual strimming.

High Ham Parish has over 20 public footpaths. 

Main Issues

•       Lack of use – Apart from the central footpaths in High Ham and Low Ham, most footpaths are barely used. This is evident by overgrowth of stiles and gates particularly on the moors.

•       Stiles, Gates and Signage – Many stiles, gates and signs are in a state of poor repair or missing altogether. It is disappointing that no action has been taken on defects reported to SCC over the past year.

•       Obstructions – Crops are grown over some footpaths, unclimbable temporary structures are placed across footpaths to contain cattle, cattle troughs are placed alongside stiles gates causing unpassable mud pools, drainage trenches dug across footpaths.

•       Breach Wood – Increased firing operations are severely limiting time for footpath use and with clearing within the wood and surrounds

The Way Forward

Inspection and strimming operations will need to continue throughout the summer and autumn. The parish should consider making plans to:

•        encourage greater use of the parish footpaths - go to EVENTS also PC noticeboards

•       develop stronger links with SCC to improve maintenance of the footpath infrastructure and

•       encourage landowners to respect the footpaths that cross their land and remind them of their H&S obligations regarding cattle, fencing                     

* Rights of Way – Somerset Strimmer Project 

This is a joint scheme between local volunteer groups, Parish or Town Councils and Somerset County Council Rights of Way Service to provide training and equipment to enable local individuals to clear vegetation on the footpaths and bridleways.  
 
For further information please contact: Rights of Way Maintenance and Development Team Tel: 01823 358250 Email
More information can be found at www.somerset.gov.uk/rightsofway