Hole lotta love for plan to tackle road problems

The pothole problem
The pothole problem

We have had our fill of potholes!

Fylde residents and councillors hope a new roads repair policy proposed by Lancashire County Council will provide welcome relief from an increasing spate of hazards labelled the worst in years.

Lancashire’s cabinet last week approved a plan for new repair targets – potholes which are 15cm or more deep, and 30cm or more wide, must be fixed within one day, while on the busiest roads, potholes 30cm wide and 4cm deep must be repaired within five working days.

County councillors from the ruling Conservative group claim that the new policy will focus on the potholes most likely to cause a safety risk or damage to cars.

But opposition councillors have criticised the new system, and have asked the cabinet’s decision be ‘called in’ for scrutiny.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies insists, however, that it is time for action after hearing of complaints galore from Fylde residents about the state of the roads.

The MP said: “I have contacted Lancashire County Council about several areas of real concern, including Clifton Street and Saltcotes Road in Lytham, Cropper Road on the boundary with Blackpool, and Woodlands Road in Ansdell, among others.

“What we are dealing with is the repercussions of four years of no investment on the roads in Fylde from the former Labour administration at Lancashire County Council.

“The county has now assured me they have a task force working on this.

“While we do need to see urgent patches on the worst potholes, I want to see a long-term programme of works for the Fylde coast to get our roads back up to standard.”

Lytham councillor Mark Bamforth, who has long campaigned for a better deal on potholes, said: “I don’t think I have ever known the state of the roads so bad.

“Along with council tax, we pay road tax and a tax included in the price of petrol so I don’t think it is asking too much for that money to be put back into keeping roads in a good and safe state.

“A firm stated policy on ensuring the roads are kept in good order would be very welcome and it needs to be introduced as a priority.”

Ansdell resident Susan Preston, of Fallowfield Road, said: “There are some dreadful potholes around our area which are really dangerous for drivers.

“They have been patched but that often doesn’t last long, especially in winter conditions, and we deserve better for our council tax.”

County Coun Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways, said of the proposed new policy: “It will means we are able to better monitor our performance, hold ourselves to account, and ensure we’re directing resources where they’re most needed.

“I’m aware the wet and freezing weather we’ve been experiencing lately means we have a lot of potholes to repair at the moment.

“We’re repairing them as soon as we can, and people will start to notice the difference as the weather improves and fewer potholes are appearing.

“This revised policy will help to ensure that we’re focused on repairing the worst damage quickly to ensure our roads are safe.”

But Labour deputy leader John Fillis, a former cabinet member for highways, said at the cabinet meeting: “Lancashire County Council has increased the time it will take to fix a pothole, while attempting to mislead the public with statistics that do not identify how long it really takes to fix a pothole from a member of the public reporting, to the work being done.”

The new measure was approved by cabinet, but after the decision was ‘called in’, it will go before a special meeting of the Internal Scrutiny Committee on a date yet to be announced.

With £7.7m allocated for pothole repairs in this financial year, County Council Iddon has said that Lancashire will be bidding for more funding from Government for continuing pothole repairs.

A new injection patching system is being introduced after being used on a trial basis last year. It has been predicted that it could as much as quadruple the number of potholes repaired in a day.