When water damage left Pidham Lane in Hampshire on the brink of closure and Hampshire County Council unable to commit to a repair, things didn't look too good for Loddon Vale TRF. That is until they discovered the councils small grant scheme. With 50% costs put forwards by the council, and the other 50% by the club, the door to keeping this popular lane was thrown open again. Would they manage to pull it off?

TRF:

Hi Andy. It looks like you’ve been busy over in Loddon Vale, that’s a lot of Hi-Vis! Could you start by giving us a bit of background to the Green Road you’ve been working on?

Andy:

Hi Greg, This is the ‘Pidham Lane’ byway that forms part of the East Meon 5-ways complex at Langrish village near Petersfield. This set of byways is subject to a permanent TRO since 1993 limiting vehicular traffic to three wheels or fewer. This is a great set of byways which are shared by motorbikes, horses and walkers. It’s an area that Loddon Vale TRF frequently takes organised ride outs to year round.

TRF:

What happened to create an issue with the lane? Could it have been prevented?

Andy:

Hampshire County Council highlighted in 2016 that the byway was at risk of closure because of significant surface water damage. The surface conditions are mostly chalk in this area and over many years the chalk has been washed away in places.

The damage had created a number of large craters which were becoming dangerous to horse riders and pedestrians. LVTRF and HCC held a joint site visit in July 2016 and HCC suggested that LVTRF could use the HCC ‘Small Grants Scheme’ to help fund repairs that would keep the road open. HCC had estimated that 50 tonnes of hard core materials would be required to fill the craters and create a stable foundation.

TRF:

The way that Loddon Vale have approached this repair has been really interesting. It’s involved volunteers, fund raising, small grant schemes and the approval of official bodies. Impressive stuff. How did you do it?

Andy:

The HCC Small Grants Scheme (SGS) is a matched funding scheme, where 50% of the costs of performing repairs is provided by HCC, and the other 50% is made up of volunteer man hour in-kind costs plus LVTRF funding. HCC made estimates of material quantities, and obtained quotations for us. There is a maximum of 25% in-kind man hours so with a total estimated cost of around £2300 the LVTRF club would need to find around £600 to fund the activity. Fortunately we were grateful to receive a donation of £200 from Witley MCC at this time.

The LVTRF group discussed the opportunity at a number of club and committee meetings. This would be the first time that the LVTRF club had taken on a job of this scale so there was some careful consideration to make sure we would be capable of doing a good job.

We made contact with Chris Cole at Devon TRF to get insight into the work that had been performed by them. They gratefully shared their method statements and risk assessments with us so we could build on their experience. The SGS application was submitted in October 2016, and the contract with HCC was signed by Brian H LVTRF chairman in January 2017.

TRF:

What was the biggest challenge that you needed to overcome to make this repair happen?

Andy:

The biggest challenge has been the organisation of machinery to move and place the 50 tonnes of hardcore materials. Originally it was envisaged that a mini-shovel, dumper and digger would be needed. To hire this type of machinery with operators and public liability insurance proved to be a big challenge.

There are many companies that hire out equipment with operators, but typically this is on a Monday-Friday basis or for a whole weekend. There is also the logistics of getting the machinery to site and the security issues which meant we really wanted to complete the work within a day so we did not have machinery on site overnight.

Luckily in the TRF LV group we found that there were a couple of experienced people who had their own machinery, training and insurance. This hugely simplified the activity as we could contract these guys to bring their machinery for a one day event.

TRF:

And the repair itself, how did it go?

Andy:

We had the 50 tonnes of materials delivered on the day before the work day. The delivery truck drivers were brilliant as they battled really hard to get the materials delivered as close to the work site as possible which meant reversing their 20 tonne vehicles up 100m of the byway through a lot of mud and overhanging trees.

Steve T had prepared a risk assessment for the event. The key risks identified were using hand tools, manual lifting and working around machinery. The key mitigations that had been identified were for everyone to have hi-viz vests for maximum visibility, for anyone working with tools to be competent and have suitable PPE, and having work gloves available for all to use.

The machinery we had turned out to be well matched to the job in hand. Dick R brought his CASE 420 tracked loader, and Leigh B brought along a hired 3te mini-digger. We had 14 volunteers turn out from LVTRF and a couple from Southern TRF. The volunteers focussed on clearing overhanding trees and vegetation and assisting in draining some of the water logged areas.

We were lucky with the weather and had a bright and mostly rain-free day. Ade B setup a canteen which meant we could get hot drinks and a lunchtime burger. This meant the day was a good sociable occasion as well.

The repairs were done to the major damaged areas and we completed the work by 4pm on schedule. We lastly put up some signage at the end of the byway indicating that the work had been performed by LVTRF in cooperation with HCC.

TRF:

What’s next for Loddon Vale TRF?

Andy:

LVTRF have built up a good relationship with Hampshire CC and we will be talking to them more about other green roads in need of repair in the area. I think we need to get greater visibility of the members within the TRF who have the experience and access to earth moving machinery. This has proved to be the key element in performing a significant work scope such as we took on at Langrish. There is a lot of potential for the TRF to demonstrate that we are part of the solution to keep the green road network open for the long-term future.

TRF:

Thanks Andy!


 

The TRF have a 'match funding' scheme to assist in conservation projects like this. For more information and to apply drop Dave Carling a message at dave.c@trf.org.uk