A COUNTY-WIDE blueprint intended to protect volunteers and parish councils carrying out works on the highways is poised to be rolled out.

Highways chief Kevin Cosgrove said agreements formalising the working arrangement between the top tier authority and third parties were “nearly there” and “effectively good to go”.

He made the comments as he updated the county council’s local committee for Copeland on the progress of the Working Together Service, presently in a draft form.

Start-up funds worth £150,000 were previously allocated, allowing the county to thrash out a legal framework setting out how town and parish councils and volunteers can work safely.

The first agreement will allow an “authorised person” to undertake agreed work, including “low to medium risk activities”. The second will allow communities to undertake “low risk volunteer activities”, with support from the council.

Mr Cosgrove said there was now “a lot of inconsistency”, with the new agreements intended to “formalise” arrangements.

Under the proposals, which are still in the draft phase, all activities would be “rigorously risk assessed.

Activities which could fall within these partnership agreements include maintaining ditches and grass-cutting.

The county council has been receiving advice from the Cumbria Association of Local Councils.

David Southward, the council’s brief-holder for economic development and property, said the service has been initiated by the cabinet following issues in the Eden area.

He said: “We decided that what was most important is we collaborate.”