Council pilots community resilience plan

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A pilot project is planned as part of Argyll and Bute Council’s effort to get communities helping with winter maintenance.

A report has revealed how the authority had hoped to consult with residents earlier this year on interest in helping to keep paths and pavements clear during the winter months.

However, the consultation process was delayed due to Covid-19 and is now planned to take place this winter with a view to rolling a scheme out during the summer and autumn of 2021.

Neither a location nor a time for the pilot project have been identified, but it is aimed for a community resilience programme to be in place for winter 2021/22.

The details were revealed in a report considered by the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee at a meeting via Skype on December 3.

Executive director Kirsty Flanagan said: ‘The council previously allocated specific funds as part of the winter maintenance budget to support community engagement and resilience relating to winter maintenance.

‘The intention had been to look to run a community consultation over the course of the spring of this year to gauge interest and gather information from communities around their expectations, which then could have been used to define the terms of the scheme.

‘With the onset of the Covid crisis it was felt that the timing was such that no meaningful feedback could be gathered and, notwithstanding this, all resources were fully committed to the continued delivery of key frontline services.

‘As we now enter the winter period it is proposed to run that delayed consultation over the season, with a view to using feedback to define a scheme for roll-out across the council area next summer/autumn, in advance of the 2021/22 winter season.

‘To support the development of the scheme we are looking to run one pilot somewhere in Argyll and Bute with an established community group.

‘On-the-ground feedback from a pilot partner would provide further useful data to inform the roll-out.’

Ms Flanagan listed various criteria for community groups to become involved in the pilot, including that its work is undertaken on a reactive basis.

However, the report also adds that there should be no expectation by the council for the group to ‘turn out’ at any point, and that all PPE and equipment should be provided by the authority.

Ms Flanagan added: ‘A review of the pilot scheme and the public consultation feedback will be brought back to a future committee in order to define the scheme and move towards a full roll-out across Argyll and Bute in summer/autumn 2021.

‘It should be noted that while it is not expected that there will be a significant uptake in the 2021 season, any uptake will have to be carefully monitored as there is a finite amount of revenue funding available to support the scheme (£50,000).

‘Should uptake be significant the council may require to consider an area based geographic criteria to ensure the limited funding is prioritised where it will deliver the greatest benefit.’