Road safety in North Yorkshire has been improved by harnessing modern technology to clear gullies and ditches that have been developed over hundreds of years beside the routes to avert flooding.
A meeting of North Yorkshire Council’s transport scrutiny committee heard adopting a risk-based approach to clearing its 164,171 gullies and using continually evolving data, the authority’s in-house highways firm NY Highways was able to focus on routes most in need of attention.
The Kaarbontech regime saw some 92.3 per cent of the 98,000 target number of gullies cleared in the year to April, compared to just 75 per cent the year before.
Councillors heard clearing water from more of the 562 miles of council-run A-roads and 5,035 miles of minor roads in the county where there are standing water and flooding issues would improved safety for those travelling, particularly during winter when ice is an additional hazard.
No figures are yet available over the impact of the “accurate drainage management software” on the volume of accidents in the county.
Officers said gully cleaning would in future be based on road and gully data along with Environment Agency data to determine the number of gullies to be attended each year.
They said the strategy would ensure “gully crews only need to attend gullies that require attention, therefore saving time and costs associated with gully maintenance”.
Officers said while the risk-based programme had identified 98,503 gullies need to be attended in any given year, the previous cleansing regime was “much less-reliable and included inefficiency”.
They said some locations were “attended only to find that the gully pot was silt-free and water in the pipework running freely”.
However, Councillor Arnold Warneken said while he appreciated the authority faced “a mammoth task”, he believed it was “failing” as when he reported road flooding issues “no change is made”.
He said it was often impossible for people to walk hand-in-hand with a child to school due to flooding and the authority’s reactive policy needed to be implemented.
The meeting was told alongside weekly surgeries with a designated officer to discuss issues in their divisions as well as access to some highways area officers.
After the meeting, the authority’s leader Councillor Carl Les said North Yorkshire faced a problem insofar as it is a very large county with a lot of roads and pavements for the authority to cover.
He added flooded roads was often not due to the roads themselves as they could act as a basin for drainage issues elsewhere.
Coun Les said: “Flooding on highways, however it is caused, is a problem, especially if it’s habitual and it lingers on, but I believe there is an effective way of reporting issues.
“Every resident has a councillor elected to represent them. Most of us go to parish meetings and the parish clerk can feed reports of issues that people think are not being dealt with in to the parish portal system.
“Every area has a communications officer tasked with holding a weekly meeting with members where they can comment on problems they are encountering in their divisions.”