A public highway is a road or footpath which is maintained at public expense. Most roads in the Braintree district are maintained by the Highways Authority (Essex County Council), although the trunk roads (A12 and the A120) are the responsibility of the Highways Agency.
- The Highways Agency is responsible for managing, maintaining and improving England's motorways and trunk roads including the A12 and A120.
- The Highway Authority (in our case Essex County Council) is responsible for repairs and maintenance of all other public highways within the Braintree district. This includes repairing pot-holes, resurfacing roads, replacing broken paving slabs, cutting grass verges, weed control, winter gritting, resolving flooding issues, clearing road gullies, deposits on the highway and maintaining street lighting, etc.
- The District Council is responsible for keeping the public roads and footpaths in the Braintree district free of litter and detritus.
New roads that have been constructed in accordance with the Council's guidelines are normally adopted by way of an agreement between the developer and Essex County Council under section 38 of the Highways Act 1980. Existing roads will not normally be adopted unless they are brought up to current standards by the owners of the road. It may, for example be unpaved, without kerbs, footpaths, surface water sewers, gullies and lighting or any of these features, and its surface may be in a poor condition. Under the provisions of Sections 205 to 218 of the Highways Act 1980, the Highway Authority may resolve to raise the standard of a private street by providing any or all of the missing features or by improving the standard of any existing features. This procedure enables the Essex County Council on completion of necessary remedial works to adopt the street as a highway maintainable at public expense.
A 'private street' is not maintained at public expense and the Highway Authority and Local Authority are under no obligation to carry out repairs or cleansing to the street, even though it could be a public right of way to which highway and traffic law can be applied.