Shropshire's 3,500 potholes menace made an immediate priority

Shropshire Council has a backlog of 3,500 reported potholes waiting to be repaired across the county, it has emerged.

The council's chief executive said clearing the thousands of defects was a priority and confirmed local businesses will be drafted in as an alternative to the current contractor Kier – which has until now been "fixing one pothole while leaving the one next to it".

As a response, the council said it will double the number of teams repairing the road to 40 over the next two weeks, to enable them to repair 500 potholes a day.

Following "robust conversations" with the construction firm at the "highest level", immediate changes are being made to the way the county's highways are managed, including the appointment of a specialist consultant to provide what the council said will be "crucial advice" to "improve performance and delivery" until the end of June.

Telford & Wrekin Council currently has 296 potholes logged on its system which are contracted to Balfour Beatty to repair.

The borough has seen the number of potholes reported reduce from 7,024 in 2015 to 2,923 last year.

'Working at a faster pace'

The Shropshire Council briefing noting the changes said the rate of temporary pothole repairs will be reduced, with an initial target of less than five per cent.

It states: "Robust conversations have taken place with Kier at the highest levels. We have agreed an upscaling of Kier mobilisation and I expect to see a change over the next few weeks.

"We will be working at a faster pace, focusing on areas of highest needs over coming months. We will work to eliminate unproductive behaviour such as, for example, fixing one pothole while leaving the one next to it."

It adds that repair costs are expected to increase, but that an additional government pothole fund is anticipated.

Steve Davenport, cabinet member for highways, said: "More potholes have appeared faster than we're fixing others.

"We apologise for the distress and inconvenience this is causing residents and as a consequence we’ll be doubling the number of gangs repairing potholes to 40 over the next two weeks. We’ll also be improving the way we work by fixing them in an area at a time, rather than prioritising the worst of them individually across our whole network.

"We apologise that we can’t be everywhere at the same time but we will be covering all areas as quickly as we can."

The latest development comes days after the council announced a £5 million scheme which will see 26 roads throughout the county resurfaced.

Work on the project started in January and is set to be completed before the end of March.

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