Why are so many of Blackpool's road markings being allowed to fade away?

Faded road markings on Squires Gate Lane, South Shore
Faded road markings on Squires Gate Lane, South Shore
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Faded road markings across Blackpool are putting motorists at risk, it has been claimed.Markings on approaches to junctions and roundabouts on some roads are unclear, while some two-lane carriageways no longer have central white lines to separate traffic.

It comes as new figures show annual spending on road maintenance and repairs by Blackpool Council has dropped by £700,000 in three years - although the council says this is due to external funding drying up.

The state of the markings on Ashworth Road

The state of the markings on Ashworth Road

Transport representatives today warned clear markings are a vital part of road safety.

John Guest, chairman of the Blackpool and District Approved Driving Instructors Association, said: “Clear markings are very important for road safety.

“Where there are not enough road markings, or they are badly faded, it causes daily problems for all drivers, not only learner drivers.

“For example at a cross-roads, if the markings are not clear, it is difficult to tell which is the main road and which is the minor road.”

Mr Guest cited areas including Bispham Road on the approach to the double roundabout leading to Devonshire Road, and Faraday Way in Bispham where hatch markings are faded, as particularly bad.

He added: “On Faraday Way the hatch markings are virtually unreadable while on Bispham Road drivers cut across the lanes because the markings are unclear. So it gets quite risky. For an experienced driver it is tricky, but for a learner driver it’s dangerous.”

Taxi driver Stephen Buckley, of the Blackpool Licensed Taxi Operators’ Association, said while the Promenade had been repainted, lines were lacking in many residential areas.

He said: “It does need addressing because there are some junctions which seriously need re-marking, and for drivers who are unfamiliar with the area it can be dangerous.

“I know the council has had to make cuts to its spending, but it can find money to spend on things like the tramway.

“A lot of taxi ranks are also faded and private cars will park on them.”

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed spending on road maintenance, including road markings, has dropped from £2.1m in 2016 to £1.4m in 2018.

Mark French, director of Promain which supplies paint for road markings, said the cuts were “short sighted.”

He added: “It is common knowledge that councils are facing severe spending cuts to their budgets, and these pressures may result in funding going on other services, but road maintenance and repairs should be seen as a priority.”

Promain submitted FOI requests to every local authority in England to get a picture of how spending has been affected by cuts.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said: “I think road markings all over the town and neighbourhoods need a complete re-think.

“The junctions at Manchester Square and Talbot Road are really confusing you could easily end up on the tram tracks at both crossings.

“I requested some no entry signs to be placed at the oncoming carriageway on Kelso Avenue which were completed really quickly, but it would seem that nobody is out inspecting all the faded junction and double yellow line markings. It’s not just Blackpool, I think Cleveleys also has the same problems. I think it’s time all road markings were revisited and a refresh program introduced to help stop future accidents.”

Blackpool Council’s highways department said the drop in spending reflected the end of external funding including from the Department for Transport for the town’s bridge repair project.

A spokesman said: “The figures were included as the town’s bridges support roads and in some cases the bridge decking has been entirely replaced. The highways department prioritise roads as per the current strategy, focusing funding on safety assets and road maintenance in high tripping claim residential areas which enables claims cost savings to be re-invested into road maintenance.

“This strategy has reduced annual highways claims costs from £1.8m in 2010/11 to £168,000 in 2018/19.”

Roads where markings have faded include:-

Ashworth Road on approach to Yeadon Way roundabout

Squires Gate Lane has no central lane markings between St Annes Road and Lytham Road

Bispham Road, on the approach to the roundabout which connects with Devonshire Road. Markings on approach to roundabout are faded.

Faraday Way, Bispham, hatch markings on the bend are very faded.

Garstang Road, near junction with Blackpool Old Road.

What is the annual budget for the painting of road markings?

There is no set budget for road markings. The strategy focuses on spending the money in the right place at the right time. The highways maintenance budget includes maintaining roads, footpaths, drainage, safety barriers and bridges as well as road markings.

Why are many markings now faded? Weather is a big factor. Winter weather conditions take their toll on markings. During the winter months, a new marker wouldn’t last as long in the cold wet months as they would do in the summer months. Blackpool Council will now commence the maintenance of the road markings across Blackpool.

Is it just that it’s not seen as a priority? We assess the renewal of markings on a priority basis and with due regard to other competing needs within a limited budget. Road safety is paramount and we have a rigorous inspection system..