Pothole campaign secures first victory

21ST November 2011'Graham West (the pothole man)'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE
21ST November 2011'Graham West (the pothole man)'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE

THe EXPRESS and its readers have claimed their first victory in our campaign to sort out the potholes littering our roads - as repairs started this week.

Your complaints were put to Graham West, Wakefield Council’s highways network manager, on Friday, and he assured people that efforts were being made to tackle the problem.

He said: “If there is a really deep hole - it needs filling. There is no other answer to it. If people have complained, I can assure residents that someone will go and assess the road defect.”

Express reader Susan Buckley told us of the deep hole near her home on New Lane, Upton, which she said caused damage to her car after driving over it.

The council contacted the Express on Tuesday to say that the hole - which measured 47mm - will be slurry patched, along with the rest of the road. Common Road and High Street will also be repaired in the same way and should be completed this week.

Tony Cartwright of Stockingate, South Kirkby, also complained about the condition his road. The council said ‘patching’ will start this week as the road was included in the year’s resurfacing programme but was set back due to a gas main replacement.

Westfield Lane in South Elmsall was another concern for residents and Mr West said ‘patching’ will suffice, but may not be funded until next year.

Mr West said: “I realise a lot of people think we do things better in certain areas but we don’t and this is not the case. The repair and maintenance of roads is not done by area, but is worked out on the severity of the problems on the road.”

He said an independent survey was carried out every year to identify problem roads. This highlights the 50 roads in most need of repair, regardless of where they are in the district.

In May this year the council was granted £830,000 by the Government for road repairs and maintenance. £250,000 of which was spent on potholes.

Annually highway maintenance is allocated £3m capital budget but Mr West said this was not a lot of money considering it had to cover 1,000 miles of roads and 2,000 miles of footpaths.

He said 60 miles worth of roads had been repaired this year with an average pothole repair costing £70.

Mr West said: “Nationally there is £10.5 billion worth of backlog for highways maintenance, but figures of local performance show that 96 per cent of the worst road defects have been completed.

“I could go out tomorrow and spend the rest of the budget filling in potholes. But next year the roads would fall apart because they had not been maintained and we would be faced with significant problems.

“The trick is to be smart enough to get as much as we can out of the money. And if that means leaving one really bad road to repair 10 others that will deteriorate and need even more work, then that is what we do. It’s good asset management principles.

“I sympathise with anyone who feels the road outside their property is not as good as it can be. There have been cuts to our budget and that is always going to affect service. But we have to use resources we have got and recognise there are savings to be made. My job is to get value for money.”

To report a pothole, contact Wakefield Council on 0845 8 506 506.