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HIGHWAYS REGULATIONS STUMP COUNCIL AND GARDENERS

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Mendip DC was astonished to learn it could no longer continue to hire a local gardener to plant flowers on a traffi...
Mendip DC was astonished to learn it could no longer continue to hire a local gardener to plant flowers on a traffic roundabout in Wells, Somerset, because he has not got a licence to 'undertake highway work', which would cost him more than£1,000 - more than twice the value of the contract , reported The Sunday Telegraph (p20).

The council was happy with the planting work carried out around Wells by Craig Holmes, a self-employed landscape gardener from Shepton Mallet, which included looking after the Glastonbury Road roundabout.

But it has now been informed by W.S. Atkins, a private company which supervises all highways work for Somerset CC, that Mr Holmes

has not the necessary qualifications according to regulations issued under the Street Works Act 1991.

To qualify to plant flowers on the roundabout, Mr Holmes would have to take a two-week course involving 17 training modules, costing him a minimum of£65 per module, plus£8 for a City and Guilds certificate for each module. The full course to license him as an 'operative' and a 'supervisor' to carry out works on or near a highway, would cost£1,071.

Under the same regulations, Rod Hudsmith, a retired Wells man, was told by Mendip DC earlier this year that he would be committing a criminal offence if he continued to tidy up overgrown and litter-strewn roadside verges in the city.

The council is frustrated by this hold-up to its plans for floral displays throughout the city for millennium year. It may now have to give the contract to a French firm, SITA, which already plants flowerbeds in the city for the local authority.

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