Council confirms 'major funding' to tackle pothole menace

A major funding boost to road maintenance is set to be announced by Shropshire Council next month in a move the authority hopes will finally end the blight of potholes on the county’s highway network.

The scourge of potholes has infuriated county residents and was an issue repeatedly raised in the run-up to the local elections.
The scourge of potholes has infuriated county residents and was an issue repeatedly raised in the run-up to the local elections.

Work has this week begun in Oswestry town centre to carry out permanent fixes to road defects, and the authority said contractors will be working their way around other market towns over the coming months.

Extra money for road repairs was pledged by the Conservatives in their local election manifesto, and the new administration under leader Lezley Picton has said the issue is at the top of its agenda.

Deputy leader Steve Charmley, who now holds the highways portfolio on the council’s cabinet, said he had been working with officers on a new strategy since his appointment last month, and the funds for the multi-million pound programme would be confirmed at the next meeting of the full council on July 15.

Councillor Charmley said the work in Oswestry would take around two weeks, with Market Drayton next in line followed by Bridgnorth and Ludlow.

He said: “We have been doing a lot of work on the main arterial routes but this is specifically in town centres and main routes into towns, getting those up to standard.”

Councillor Charmley said highways contractor Kier had moved away from its previous approach of using “a blob of tarmac” to temporarily fix road defects, and was now using permanent methods.

He said: “In the last month we have been working on a strategy on how we are going to take this forward.

“The plan is to do all the big arterial routes and town centres, and as we start to free up man power then we will be going out and doing all the lanes.

“Kier hasn’t got the resources to do every road in the county all at once.

“There are 3,200 miles of highway in Shropshire and that’s not including Highways England roads like the A5 and A49.

“At least 70 per cent of that is C roads or minor roads, and a lot of those minor roads need drainage work, so we do that first then do the road.

“I think people are already starting to notice the difference.”

The work carried out so far in East Oswestry has been welcomed by the ward’s unitary councillors Chris Schofield and John Price.

Cllr Schofield said: “Highways are prioritising Oswestry and will be laying 2,000 square metres of new tarmac in the next two weeks, repairing the weather damaged surfaces.

“Most of the work is being carried out in the evening so as not to get in the way of day to day life.

“We have been working together with Oswestry town councillors, Les McGuire, Jess Michie and mayor Mark Jones, putting hours of work into making this happen in Eastern Oswestry.”

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