When County Councils came into being in the late 1880s, they were charged with maintaining `main’ roads, roughly 25% of the highway network. It became common practice for day-to-day maintenance to be undertaken by a number of roadmen, each appointed to maintain a length of road. This gave rise to the term “the Lengthsman”. Over time greater mechanisation and centralisation replaced Lengthsman with area-based work teams, controlled from County offices and depots.
In 2000 Herefordshire Council launched a local initiative, the `Lengthsman Scheme’, to devolve some minor highway works to Parish Councils. The scheme provides each participating parish with a small delegated budget to cover highway maintenance on their local roads, excluding any `A’ roads. Most Parishes, including Holme Lacy, use the delegated budget to employ a local contractor to undertake the works.
The scheme has proved extremely popular. In 2000, six parishes joined the scheme. By 2005 there were 50 participating parishes. Holme Lacy joined the scheme formally and our Lengthsman began his duties.