Potholes are a ‘Poor advert for our county’
PUBLISHED: 06:00 17 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:11 17 March 2019
Suffolk’s pothole blight has been described as a “poor advert for our county” as latest figures show the council spends the least on pothole repair in East Anglia.
Data presented to Suffolk County Council’s scrutiny committee on Thursday showed an estimated £3.3million budget was allocated by Suffolk County Council for pothole repair, compared to £3.4m for Cambridgeshire, £6.8m for Essex and £7.7m for Norfolk.
Coupled with the council’s budget announcement for 2019/20, where savings would be made from highways services such as winter gritting and road sign painting, the latest figures have prompted fresh questions over whether Suffolk taxpayers are getting value for money.
Councillor Jack Owen, Labour highways spokesman said: “Everyone who uses Suffolk’s roads knows that they are a mess – potholes blight each and every journey that is made by residents and, frankly, it is a bit embarrassing when visitors come and see the state of our roads.
“It’s a pretty poor advert for our county.
“These figures beg the question as to whether Suffolk’s taxpayers are getting any value for money in comparison with our neighbours.
“By using short-term patch-up jobs, rather than actually getting to grips with the issue, this administration is once again failing to deliver the infrastructure Suffolk needs to prosper.
“It is a false economy – by repeatedly cutting the highways budget, the Tories are simply storing up problems for later down the line.
“Suffolk’s taxpayers are paying the council more and more, but our roads seem to get worse and worse.”
A harsh winter early in 2018 left the council having to blitz pothole repairs – including some with short-term temporary fills.
An extra £9m pot announced by the Chancellor in his budget last year has been used to invest in new thermal patching pothole repair kits, which have completed more than 2,700 repairs since December.
A council spokesman said: “It is hard to draw any conclusions from these statistics as each authority has its own approach to managing the service within their Highways Maintenance Operational Plans (HMOP).
“Each county also has different traffic levels, length of different road types and competing maintenance needs for its entirely different sets of highway infrastructure, such as bridges, street lighting, footways and drainage systems, each in varying overall condition which they will consider when setting the budget.
“Suffolk’s budget was set to ensure that our reactive maintenance service was sufficient to maintain the county’s roads in a reasonably safe and usable condition and to ensure that repairs are efficient and sustainable.
“Following the review of Suffolk Highways, which was launched last year, we have made some significant changes to our HMOP to improve the way we undertake reactive repairs.
“This includes investing in Nu-phalt Thermal Patching technology – the thermal patching teams are an extra resource that were brought in to carry out pothole repairs over and above what we would normally carry out.
“It’s bolstered our resource enabling us to carry out more repairs, of longer-lasting quality – they’re also quicker and better for the environment than a normal repair and produce less waste to landfill.
“We have also been trialling new ways of repairing potholes, such as intervening when defects are smaller and repairing more on one visit.”