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Poll: Spotlight to be thrown on Essex pot holes

Pothole road

Pothole road

Archant

The way pot holes are dealt with in Essex is due to come under the spotlight next week.

Two political groups at County Hall have called for a review of the current system of road repairs.

Ukip councillors have put a motion to next week’s full meeting of Essex County Council (ECC) asking for the existing repairs contract with Ringway Jacobs be re-negotiated.

They are concerned the single contract removes all competition from other potential firms and means local companies will be unable to compete for the contract in the future.

Instead the councillors suggest no contract should be for more than half of all reactive maintenance or one-quarter of maintenance, with remaining work split between at least five unconnected companies in a bid to increase competition and raise quality.

Meanwhile members of the Labour group at ECC have suggested district, borough and city councils should be given more control of road repairs.

Their motion suggests local authorities should be given power and funding to tackle pot holes in their area, allowing greater flexibility, accountability and the ability to prioritise repairs as they see fit.

Both motions, which will be debated at County Hall on Tuesday , say there is dissatisfaction from the public at the state of the roads in Essex.

Ringway Jacobs formed a ten-year partnership with ECC in April 2012, called Essex Highways, to tackle pot holes, other road defects and general transport schemes across the county.

Estimated to be worth around £1billion, the contract terms, scrutiny and length have all been called into question by opposition councillors over the past year.

Figures released by ECC in April revealed in the previous quarter the number of outstanding defects on priority one roads had fallen from 1,796 to 1,280, and on priority two roads from 3,746 to 3,296, but blamed the wet weather for the number of pot holes on local roads rising from 10,397 to 11,674.

Roger Lord, Ukip councillor for Brightlingsea who proposed the party’s motion, said: “Public money must be spent wisely and we believe in competition. It is the same with supermarkets and any sector.

“This contract is too big for councillors to manage or monitor. There is no question that in certain circumstances there are economies of scale, but in this case the scale just obscures 1,001 problems.

“The reality is people on the ground are seeing things go wrong day in day out and feel let down. Around 80% of member enquiries are about pot holes.

“It is time to rip up the contract and start again. There must be get-out clauses - anybody who signed a contract of this size without any is a fool.”

Speaking on the Labour motion deputy group leader and Harwich county councillor Ivan Henderson said: “We feel public safety should be the priority and the only people who can really see the urgency are those closest to the residents affected.

“At the moment it seems Essex is so big a county it is out of touch with what’s important to residents. It is just not working.”

No-one was available for comment from ECC, which also deals with enquiries into the Essex Highways partnership.

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(left to right) Acting Chief Superintendent Kim Warner of Suffolk Police speaks alongside mother of missing 23-year-old Corrie McKeague, Nicola Urquhart and his brothers Darroch and Makeyan McKeague, during a press conference  at Bury St Edmunds Police Station in Suffolk, as police are investigating the disappearance of the RAF serviceman, who has been missing for more than a week amid fears he may have been kidnapped. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 3, 2016. See PA story POLICE McKeague. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The police hunt for missing RAF gunner Corrie McKeague has been labelled “incompetent” by his mother, as an online campaign has raised more than £15,000 to hire a private investigator.

File picture of Essex Police officers carrying out a drug warrant.

Drug paraphernalia and plant growing equipment were seized from a house in Essex.

East Bergholt village centre.

Residents living in a picturesque village in the heart of Constable country have taken their battle to block a development they believe will be a blot on the landscape made famous by the artist to London’s High Court.

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer speaks in the House of Commons, London

MPs signalled they would back Theresa May’s timetable to leave the European Union after a last minute concession that she would publish her plan for Brexit first.

File picture of a police road closed sign.

There were long delays in Braintree tonight due to a crash.

The crash happened in Sudbury.

A group of people ran away from the scene of a four-vehicle crash in Sudbury today.

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