HAMPSHIRE County Council is to continue its support for the parish lengthsman scheme.

First trialled in 2010 with just 10 parish councils, the scheme funds a local ‘lengthsman’ to carry out straightforward highways maintenance tasks requested by the various parish councils and now includes 136 parishes covering more than half of Hampshire.

The scheme is currently operational in the parishes of Bentley, Binsted, Froyle, Grayshott, Headley, Hawkley, Kingsley and Lindford.

In continuing to support the scheme, on Thursday last week,Rob Humby, the county council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “The parish lengthsman scheme has been a success story in recent years, giving local parish councils more say over maintenance works which really matter to their communities.

“It’s been so successful, in fact, that more parish councils request to be part of it every year, and we now have another 38 wishing to join.”

The county council currently provides funding for parish and town councils to employ a local ‘lengthsman’ who takes on maintenance tasks such as cutting back hedges, cleaning signs, and clearing ditches.

Each parish is allocated £1,100 for the lengthsman works, except for Fleet and Yateley town councils who receive a higher allocation reflecting the size of the road length covered. The cost to the county council for the parish councils already in the scheme is £156,200.

Mr Humby continued: “While we obviously need to look carefully at all the council’s spending during these challenging economic times, I know how much local communities value this scheme and the difference it can make to the pride people take in where they live.”

The term ‘lengthsman’ dates back to the 1800s, referring to workers who were responsible for keeping a particular length of road neat and tidy.