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The parish lengthsman

The name ‘lengthsman’ dates to the 1800s, referring to workers who were responsible for keeping a particular length of road neat and tidy.  Many parishes employed their own parish lengthsman.

Following successful pilots, Hampshire County Council (HCC) introduced the lengthsman scheme more widely in 2013-14.  The objective was, and is, to encourage parish led work to meet local highways and rights of way needs.

Each financial year HCC provide a grant of £1,000 for each parish in the scheme to pay for work done by the lengthsman.  St Mary Bourne Parish Council acts as a 'lead parish' for a cluster of 14 parishes.  For this they receive an administration fee of £100 per parish, which is also available to spend on lengthsman work in the parish.

A range of parish led work on highways and rights of way is allowed under the scheme

The broad categories of work are:

·         Highways – drainage, signs, verges, pavements & other miscellaneous;

·         Rights of way – waymarking, access & other miscellaneous;

·         Other parish specific work, eg cleaning war memorials or maintaining noticeboards.

Some work is explicitly disallowed, including cleaning, repairs or any work on:

·         Street lighting;

·         Illuminated signs and bollards (i.e. any street furniture with an electrical connection);

·         The live road;

·         Patching and structural repairs (no excavation due to possibility of underground apparatus);

·         Emergency call-outs to highway incidents.

In St Mary Bourne we spend a significant proportion of the grant on keeping grips and ditches clear to prevent flooding.  We also spend on rights of way and on keeping the speed signs clean and clear of foliage. 

If you have any suggestions for work that might be done by the lengthsman, please contact the clerk.