A group set up to work with the agricultural community to improve safety on Shropshire’s road is making good progress in its work to improve education, guidance and training for all partners and agencies.

The working group consists of Shropshire Council, the National Farmers Union , West Mercia Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner.

It was set up last year to assist in reducing the concerns and complaints received by the council from residents and business about agricultural vehicles on the county’s roads. But, it’s aim is to provide support and guidance to those working in the agricultural sector and to ensure all agencies can work collectively to increase the skills and knowledge of staff to support the sector and address the concerns raised by residents.

The group was established after the issue was raised by Cllr Joyce Barrow, Chair of Shropshire Councils Place Overview Committee, and an initial discussion at the committee’s meeting on 3 September 2020.

The working group will be providing joint training for council and police staff on practical matters such as the size and weight of agricultural vehicles on rural roads, mud on the road and other general safety matters.

The NFU, Shropshire Council , West Mercia Police and the PCC will be developing guidance and campaigns and deliver briefings to raise awareness for the agricultural community but also for the wider general public, plus joint guidance on issues such as use of contractors .

The NFU will be organising events and briefings for farmers and those involved in wider agricultural activities , and West Mercia Police and Shropshire Council’s highways staff will be there to learn and provide an insight from a highways point of view on issues that residents raise with the council.

Councillor Barrow said:

“The working group’s activity will ensure Shropshire Council staff working on our highways and dealing with residents’ concerns are better informed and knowledgeable in this area of work, and the joint training with West Mercia Police will also support widening understanding and training. The workshops and briefings planned by the NFU to further support the agricultural sector will allow a greater understanding of the concerns raised by residents.

“Concerns are raised to the council about this issue, but it’s also important to recognise the fantastic contribution made to the Shropshire economy by the agricultural sector. So, we’re working in partnership to inform, understand , share knowledge and experiences together to support safety on our roads.”

Edward Garratt, NFU Shropshire adviser, said:

“We’d like to thank Shropshire people for their continued support as our farmers go about their jobs producing great tasting, quality ingredients and food for our tables.

The NFU is working closely with Shropshire Council, West Mercia Police and others to minimise disruption where possible and to raise awareness of issues at key times of the year.

Most farmers and agricultural contractors do what they can to minimise the amount of issues on the roads but a timely reminder is always worthwhile and farmers will do everything in their power, when appropriate, to safely ease traffic congestion and clear mud from the roads.

There is also a real need for other motorists to continue to bear with the farming community at peak times and be aware of farm vehicles when out and about on the county’s highways.”

Inspector Lloyd Cresswell of Force Operations, West Mercia Police, said.

Agriculture is one of Shropshire’s key industries, so it is inevitable that throughout the year agricultural vehicles have to share the road with other motorists. This collaboration between local partners is a great way of developing closer working relationships to not only help keep our roads safer but also support the needs of local communities and those working within the agricultural industry.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion, said:

“Making our roads safer is a key priority, as is understanding and responding to the concerns of our rural communities. This welcome initiative ensures Shropshire residents are given a voice, as agencies work together to ensure safety improves.”