Meet Aylesbury Vale's gully cleaners - the £6.6m team tasked with clearing more than 85,000 of them this year
Highways staff are working overtime to keep gully cleansing programme on track
Highways staff have been going the extra mile to help with the programme of works to clean all gullies in Buckinghamshire, says Bucks Council - including working weekends and taking on new roles.
Work began in May on the ambitious programme to cleanse each of the 85,000-plus gullies over the course of the year.
The council says Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB) crews have been working flat out to keep to schedule but have been hampered by 'a combination of unavoidable setbacks'.
These include the knock-on effect of the national shortage of HGV drivers, which has affected supply chain partners who have been drafted in to support the programme. Levels of staff sickness brought on by the Covid virus and the impact of Covid isolation on crews has also affected the work.
In a bid to address the issue, staff from TfB's regular gully cleansing crews have volunteered to go out at weekends and in evenings in addition to their normal day shifts, and others who carry out different roles have been trained to use the gully cleansing vehicles to help out. TfB has also managed to secure additional gully machines and crews by taking on supply chain partners.
Cabinet member for transport, Steven Broadbent, said: “With such a huge programme of work as this, we don’t have time to allow setbacks to hold us up. I am tremendously grateful to all the staff and crews who have been working hard to get the job done and admire their sense of dedication and teamwork in pulling together to get us back on track.”
Earlier this year Buckinghamshire Council committed an extra £4 million of funding into its gully clearance programme, boosting the total drainage programme budget for the year to £6.6 million. As part of the work, every gully in the county will be cleared at least once over the course of the year. Crews follow a schedule of work but also take advantage of opportunities to clear gullies as and when they arise.
Steven said: “Our crews maintain a fluid and flexible approach to gully cleansing. If an area that is often full with parked cars is suddenly found to be clear but the road is not on that day’s schedule, the team will take the opportunity to quickly clean the gullies whilst the circumstances are in our favour.
"We are grateful to residents for helping us to carry out this work by moving their vehicles as needed when they see our crews are out and about.
"By working in this way, we are able to ensure the best use of both time and resources.”