July 31 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, May 8, 2014
A new method of dealing with potholes and other road damage was outlined to county councillors yesterday.
But the opposition at the authority warned it could still leave many streets in Ipswich worse off than when the borough was responsible for road maintenance before they were handed back to the county last April.
And they criticised the fact that seven months after the new highways contract began, new methods of reporting problems are still being drawn up.
The county council’s scrutiny committee looked at how the contract with contractors Kier MG to manage Suffolk’s highways network was operating since the transfer of the service on October 1 last year.
The committee heard that new ways of reporting faults online were being drawn up – that would make it easier to get accurate reports on where problems were and make repairing the problems quicker and simpler.
A page for people to report potholes would be created on the county council’s own website and this should make it easier for the public to access.
However opposition transport spokeswoman Sandra Gage was disappointed that it had taken so long for problems addressing road problems to be addressed.
She said: “Kier MG took over the contract on 1 October, and there was a long lead-in time before they took on the services.
“Why is it only now, seven months later, that we are still waiting to get improved reporting systems up and running?”
She said some of the proposed changes should make it easier for members of the public to report problems – but there was no firm date for their introduction.
The committee also recognised the importance of a dialogue between Ipswich council’s area committees and the highways department – and would be recommending that to the county’s cabinet.
Ms Gage said: “In other parts of the county, the main point of contact for the department is the parish council, but we don’t have them in Ipswich and we still need to have a dialogue.
“I’m pleased that scrutiny recognised the importance of the area committees in the town, and hope the cabinet accepts that recommendation as soon as possible.”
Cabinet member for roads Graham Newman said: “The changes are not just about Kier MG taking over the contract, there are other issues that came in too, and from that point of view six months is not such a long time.
“The new online reporting is now starting to come in and hopefully the benefits will soon be seen.”
Mr Newman said he accepted that, and looked forward to working with the area committees. He said: “I already attend them, but it is often when they want to have a moan. It will be nice to go along as a matter of course to explain how things are improving!”