Excerpt from the Somerset County Council

Highway Services Parish Information Pack  (Sep2013)


Highway Service Levels

As the Highway Authority for Somerset, the Council is responsible for the maintenance of the highways within the County. Outlined below are the current levels of service that parish councils and the public can expect from Somerset County Council as the Highways Authority.



Gullies (road drains)

Ditches and Grips

Highway surface water drainage, culverts and pipe work

Utility Company Ironware

Grass cutting



Street Lighting

Highways Inspections

Road markings

Reporting a Problem on the Highway


Service Levels:

·         Potholes

·         Defect on a footway or cycleway

·         Damaged gully, manhole or drain cover

·         Blocked drain

·         Debris or mud on the Highway

·         Hazard on the Highway

·         Gritting

·         Damaged traffic sign or bollard

·         Overgrown verge or vegetation on the highway

·         Problem with a highway tree

·         Weeds on the highway

·         Damage to a bridge or retaining wall

Problem with street and road works





Gullies (road drains)

The frequency of planned gully cleansing will depend on location and the relative risk of flooding.

Gullies in flood susceptible areas will be cleaned every year.

Gullies in rural non-flood susceptible areas will be cleaned every two years.

Gullies in urban non-flood susceptible areas will be cleaned every four years.


Where defects or flooding are observed, in between the planned gully cleansing, these will be dealt with on an adhoc or reactive basis.


The planned programme is reviewed and adjusted annually to ensure the programme recognises and responds to the changing nature of risk and flooding on the county highway network.


No budgetary provision is available for regular emptying of kerb offlets, manholes, catchpits or interceptors. However, when cleansing or safety-related reactive works are required, these will be duly programmed.



Ditches and Grips

Outfalls, highway ditches, and grips are maintained on a reactive basis in response to complaints or identified maintenance need. Sites where regular flooding occurs have been identified and remedial measures taken to alleviate the problems where possible. In most cases the responsibility for maintenance of ditches will rest with the adjoining landowner.



Highway surface water drainage, culverts and pipe work

Culverts and other highway surface water drainage pipes under roads or pavements may be affected by blockage, subsidence, root penetration or structural damage. Repairs, drain jetting and camera surveys are carried out on a reactive basis following identification of defects and/or flooding. There is currently no budgetary provision to enable a planned maintenance approach to be taken.



Utility Company Ironware

Ironware comprising covers, gratings, frames and boxes set in the carriageways, footways and cycle routes have the potential to compromise safety and serviceability and in certain cases cause noise and disturbance to local residents. Responsibility for defective ironwork, where this is part of the apparatus installed by a utility company, lies with the company.



Grass cutting

All highway verges are cut once per year. Visibility splays upon A&B roads receive an additional cut per year. Visibility splays at junctions are cut as necessary and grass is cleared around traffic signs.


Cutting Sequence:

Visibility areas and verges on Class A & B roads

followed by visibility areas and verges on C & D roads

A further cut of junction visibility area on A & B roads will follow ensuring the

most cost effective working method is employed.


Areas of verge identified as important habitats receive appropriate treatments e.g. areas with wild orchids are appropriately marked to alert grass cutters.


High amenity areas receive additional cuts per year to keep grass shorter than about 150mm. The District Councils carry out the work and enhance this policy by carrying out additional cutting. Grass cuttings in high amenity areas are not collected or removed.




Hedge trimming is only carried out where a hedge forms and is part of a bank immediately adjacent to the highway. ‘Highway hedges’ are cut as part of the grass cutting programme a maximum of once a year.


The trimming of ‘highway hedges’ should be undertaken between July and March to avoid

disturbing nesting birds. If visibility becomes impeded to such an extent that road safety is

jeopardised trimming may need to be undertaken at other times.


Where there are special requirements in visibility areas or to prevent obstruction of signs or to enable work at the edge of the carriageway or provide access to drainage systems these are cut when required and with the permission of the landowner.


Where a fence is located in a hedgerow care should be taken not to damage the fence.




The County Council, as Highway Authority, ceased amenity weed spraying in April 2011/12. Noxious Weeds (Common Ragwort, Broad Leaved Dock, Spear Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Curled Dock, Giant Hogweed and Japanese Knotweed) are pulled, bagged and disposed of at a licensed disposal site on an ad-hoc basis when reported. Major areas of infestation are identified and recorded for a spray programme the following year with an appropriate weed killer in April to early June.



Street Lighting

All reported problems with lighting will be inspected within 6 weeks of being reported. All highway lighting in Somerset is inspected and cleaned once every three years. A night time inspection is carried out on the first Friday of every month to pick up unreported defects.



Highways Inspections

At present there is a comprehensive system for the identification and reporting of safety defects. Routine inspections are currently carried out by Highways Inspectors on all of the roads in Somerset. The frequency of these inspections varies according to the importance of the road. Major roads, like A roads, will be inspected once a month while country lanes would be inspected at least once a year.



Road markings

Road markings are inspected as part of the routine highway inspections. In addition a further annual survey of white lining is carried out on roads in Somerset. This is done using a vehicle mounted system that tests for reflectivity in white lining in the centre line and edge line of the carriageway.



Reporting a Problem on the Highway

Members of the public can report any problems with the Highway by phoning our Somerset Direct service on 0845 345 9155, or online at Somerset County Council’s website at www.somerset.gov.uk/highwaydefect


Alternatively you can use:

Email: RoadsandTransportSD@somerset.gov.uk

Fax: 01823 356936


Or contact the local Mendip Area Highway Office directly. All are open 8.30 am – 5 pm weekdays (4.30 pm on Fridays):

Wells Road, Glastonbury BA6 9AS



Once Somerset County Council receives a notification about a problem   on the highway from a member of the public we have set response times for addressing the report. A judgement will be made about the urgency of each reported problem, however all problems will be inspected within a maximum of three days.



Potholes Service level:

When you report a pothole or other defect on the highway we will inspect within 3 working days and assess the need for works.


A pothole occurs when the surface of the road or footpath has been eroded and a hollow is formed.

We repair potholes and other road defects to ensure safe access for all road users, and to maintain the structure of the road or footway in accordance with our Highway Safety Inspection manual. If a defect is identified as a safety issue by our inspectors we have a set timeframe for addressing it dependent on the severity of the defect; this can mean repairing it within 24 hours for a serious defect to a maximum of 28 days for less serious problems.


When contacting us, please provide the following information:

Your name and telephone number, in case we need to contact you.

The location of the pothole including the road name.

Is it in the footway or carriageway?

Is it outside a specific property?

The approximate size and depth of the pothole.



Defect on a footway or cycleway Service level:

When you report a defect relating to a footway or cycleway we will inspect within 3 working days and assess the need for urgent or routine maintenance works.


We aim to promote walking and cycling as an alternative to using transport by the provision of a safe and convenient network of footways and cycleways. We aim to provide safe footways and cycleways of satisfactory appearance to encourage increased usage by the public.



Damaged gully, manhole or drain cover Service level:

When you report a damaged gully, manhole or drain cover we will inspect it by the next working day, where resources permit, and programme remedial work where required.


We carry out an inspection of the public highway which includes gully gratings, drains or manhole covers in accordance with our Highway safety inspection manual.

Many of the manhole covers in the highway are the responsibility of a statutory undertaker, for example British Telecom, British Gas, a water authority or electricity company.



Blocked drain Service level:

When you report a blocked drain we will inspect it within 24 hours, where resources permit, and assess the need for works.


We provide a drain cleaning service which includes road drains on all highways maintained by us. As the Highway Authority we operate a planned maintenance programme for cleaning highway surface water drains. Depending on the location and the type of drain, they are cleaned once every 2 years. We also deal with known problem areas as necessary, and respond to reports of blocked drains.



Debris or mud on the Highway Service level:

When you report mud or debris on the highway we will inspect within 24 hours, sign or cone where possible and contact the landowner to arrange removal.


We maintain the highway network in a safe and accessible condition for highway users by:

Preventing, wherever possible, mud being brought on to the highway

Minimising the problems with related flooding and surface water drainage systems serving the highway


Please report by phone. Mud on 'A' class roads (for example A38) should be reported straight to the police on their 101 phone service.



Hazard on the Highway Service level:

When you report a hazard on the highway, we will inspect within 24 hrs. We aim to respond to requests for assistance from the Police or other emergency services within an hour and a half where resources permit. Removal timescales are decided in accordance with the Highways Safety Inspection manual.


We are responsible for co-ordinating and arranging for the clearance and disposal of hazards that are causing a hazard or obstruction on the highway in conjunction with the police and/or appropriate specialist waste contractor and the Environment Agency. Examples of hazards can include hazardous waste, traffic cones, blown tyre or rubbish.



Gritting Service level:

All salt network routes to be completed within 2 hours 30 mins of commencement, before the formation of frost, ice or snow.


We carry out salting in anticipation of frost, snow or ice on our precautionary salting network. Special weather forecasts are used to predict road temperatures across the highway network in Somerset. These are used by trained and experienced staff that issue instructions to salt the Precautionary Salting Network as necessary. We aim to salt these roads in advance of ice or frost forming on the road surface. We are responsible for highway winter service in Somerset except for the M5, A303 and A36.



Only the busiest roads are salted, most are not - drive safely

In icy conditions braking distances can increase tenfold

It takes time for salt to become effective

Rain can wash salt off roads

In very low temperatures even salting does not prevent icing

Extra caution is needed when driving in bad weather



Damaged traffic sign or bollard Service level:

When you report a damaged illuminated sign we will inspect it as soon as practicable. Full repair can take up to 20 days after issuing an order to the team lighting maintenance contractor.


Road traffic signs and bollards are maintained and repaired in accordance with national standards to provide safe access to all road users.


For reporting problems:


To report a problem with an illuminated road sign or bollard please telephone our Streetlight Fault Line, on 0845 601 0939.


To report road signs or non-illuminated bollards which require cleaning, repair or replacement please phone the Somerset Direct number or use the "do it online" service on the Somerset County Council website.



Overgrown verge or vegetation on the highway Service level:

When you request information about grass cutting we will inspect the location within 24 hours where resources permit and assess the site


During the growing season we carry out a number of environmental maintenance operations to help keep all road users safe.


We manage roadside vegetation to:

preserve visibility sight lines at junctions and bends

provide a pedestrian refuge in the absence of a footway

maximise the nature conservation value of highway land where this does not conflict with safety requirements



Problem with a highway tree Service level:

We will answer general enquiries about highway trees within 10 working days. When you report a dangerous tree we will take appropriate action as soon as possible.


We are responsible for the maintenance of the majority of trees on roadside verges, including street trees in urban areas. We maintain and preserve our trees whilst ensuring they do not pose a risk to people or property.



Weeds on the highway Service level:

When you report weeds, we will inspect the site within 48 hours where resources permit.


Under the Noxious Weeds Act 1959 we are responsible for controlling certain noxious weeds, including ragwort. This has to be removed where it is reported as causing a nuisance to highway users or adjoining landowners. Other invasive species being treated in Somerset are Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed.

If you know where these may be growing please tell us and we will make sure it is dealt with in the appropriate manner.

All environmental works will seek to protect wildlife on roadside verges, while maintaining road safety, consistent with the Somerset Highways Biodiversity Action Plan.



Damage to a bridge or retaining wall Service level:

When you report damage to a wall or fence we will inspect within a timescale relevant to the severity/location of the incident, but within 3 working days (Mon - Fri).


When you report an incident to us we will assess the severity and assign an inspector. If we are not responsible for the structure we will pass the report to the appropriate owner. We will make the site safe and respond in accordance with the inspector's recommendations.




Problem with street and road works

You can contact us by phone or go to Somerset County website to report a problem with street and road works. We deal with concerns such as:

The work has finished but equipment and material remains

The work has finished but you are concerned with the workmanship

You are unable to pass by the works site adequately by car or on foot

Defective utility access and maintenance covers Contact the company doing the works if:

You were not informed that the works were going to take place

You want to know how many days or hours in the day they will be working



For further information please contact:

You can report any problems with the Highway online at Somerset County Council’s

website at www.somerset.gov.uk/highwaydefect

Alternatively you can use:

Email: RoadsandTransportSD@somerset.gov.uk

Telephone: 0845 345 9155

Fax: 01823 356936