Potholes: Shropshire's rural roads ‘at point of failure’ - claim

Shropshire's rural roads are in a perilous state, with councillors today declaring them "at the point of failure".

Although workforces are now out mending potholes, Councillors Andy Boddington from Ludlow and David Tremellen from Highley near Bridgnorth, say the work rate is not keeping pace with demand.

In March, Shropshire Council was awarded an extra £1.86 million to mend the thousands of potholes across the county caused by the winter weather.

Last week the AA revealed that potholes are costing drivers and insurers at least £1 million a month in total due to massive car repair bills.

Councillor Boddington said: “Now far too many of Shropshire’s roads are at the point of catastrophic failure because of constant budget cuts. It only takes a spell of nasty weather, and that’s normal in this part of the world, for potholes to breed like a plague of rats.

“As always, Shropshire Council is hiding behind the weather rather than recognising the underlying problem.

“There are three reasons for the nearly 600 per cent growth in pothole reports this winter.”

He said Shropshire Council figures showed that in the four months January to April there had been a significant increase year-on-year in reported repairs – from 697 potholes in 2015 to 1,055 in 2016, 928 in 2017 and 5,274 this year.

He added: “Maintenance of our county’s roads has been neglected for years. Many of our roads are in a state of catastrophic collapse. It only takes a short spell of cold weather for our roads to fail completely. Shropshire Council, and councils across the country, haven’t been able to invest enough in roads. They have also viewed cuts in road and transport budgets as a reduction in service they can get away with.

“The public has become heartily fed up with the state of Shropshire’s roads. In April about 3,000 potholes were reported but only about 500 were fixed. The speed of repairs is picking up. That is because Shropshire is being bailed out by a £1.9 million government grant.

“We need to keep the county moving. People need to drive with confidence that their vehicles won’t be damaged by potholes. But while our roads remain at the point of failure, we are never going solve the pothole plague. We should be rebuilding our roads, not just patching them up.”

Councillor Tremellen said: “I’d argued for our road schemes for over four years and a lot of work had gone into their planning, not to mention a lot of very expensive officer and consultant time.”

Tackling the pothole problem

Over the past 10 years 17.9 million potholes have been filled nationally at a cost exceeding £1 billion.

In the last year, 1.5 million were filled – one every 21 seconds.

In Shropshire, highways contractor Kier is working “flat-out” to clear the backlog of potholes.

In response to Councillor Boddington’s comments, Chris Edwards, head of infrastructure and communities with Shropshire Council, said: “All councillors will be aware that the recent winter has taken its toll on the highway network, not just in Shropshire but across the country.

A pothole is levelled off ready for filling

“Many of our roads have been in a terrible state over the past few months following the severe winter weather, which has taken its toll on our roads.

“We’re determined to sort things as soon as we can and, working with Kier, we’re working flat out to treat the exceptionally high number of potholes that have appeared this year. Kier have more than 30 crews and two Roadmaster vehicles out across the county every day repairing hundreds of potholes, and we’re confident that we’ll soon have tackled the backlog.

“In recognition of the damage the weather has done across the UK, the Department for Transport released additional funding to support councils dealing with the increased repair bill. Shropshire Highways has allocated the capital finance into its budgets across a number of work areas: surface dressing, patching, re-surfacing and pothole repairs. This work is programmed and will be fully utilised by the autumn.”

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