HAMPSHIRE County Council has been working throughout the summer to increase the number of local authorities benefitting from the ‘parish lengthsman’ scheme.

First trialled in 2010 with just 10 parish councils, the scheme funds a local ‘lengthsman’ to carry out straightforward and low-risk maintenance work on footways, highways and rights of way, prioritised by the local parish or town council.

At the beginning of this year, 140 parishes were part of the scheme. Additional funding recently confirmed by the county council has meant that 38 more parish councils will now benefit. In East Hampshire, these will include Bentworth, Beech, Wield, Petersfield, and Liss.

Those parishes already benefiting from a Parish Lengthsman scheme include Old and New Alresford, Medstead, Ropley, Bighton, Bishops Sutton, West Meon, Exton, Droxford, Grayshott, Bentley, Binsted, Headley, Kingsley, Selborne, Hawkley, Worldham, Lindford, Greatham, Rowlands Castle, Steep, Langrish, Sheet, Froxfield and Privett, Stroud, Buriton, South Warnborough, Mattingley, Odiham, Ewshot, the Candovers, Northington, Ellisfield, Cliddesden, and Herriard.

Rob Humby, the county council’s executive member for environment and transport, explained: “Parish lengthsmen provide a greatly valued service to their local community, doing small jobs that create a big impact, such as ditch clearing, hedge cutting and sign cleaning. It gives parish councils and local communities a say over work that’s important to them and their local area.

“This year, because of a mild winter, we’ve been able to redirect some highways contingency funds we had put aside for dealing with harsh winter weather to make a one-off investment into the parish lengthsmen scheme in 2017/18.”

The scheme has been a real success story in recent years, giving local parish and some town councils an opportunity to prioritise and deliver small-scale highway maintenance works, which really matter to their communities, he added.

The term ‘lengthsman’ dates back to the 1800s, referring to workers who were responsible for keeping a particular length of road neat and tidy. The modern role of parish lengthsman was reintroduced by Hampshire County Council in 2010, in order to give communities more say in how their local area is maintained.