The price of patching up our potholes

Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION:  Wakefield Town Hall
Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION: Wakefield Town Hall
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THE LEADER of Wakefield Council has said that councils “are stuck chasing their tails” when it comes to patching up pothole-ridden roads.

Coun Peter Box was speaking in his role as the Local Government Association’s (LGA) economy and transport chairman last week, and said that increased central government funding would save local authorities’ billions of pounds in the long term.

The average cost of filling potholes had reduced from £64 to £48 each in the last two years.

Despite this decrease, Coun Box said: “Councils are currently stuck in the position of chasing their tails, repeatedly patching up a deteriorating network rather then fixing it properly.”

His comments come after Wakefield Council announced that an extra £1m a year for the next four years would be allocated to improving the district’s roads.

This was in addition to the £12m already allocated to repairing roads to tackle the backlog left from previous bad winters.

Graham West, the council’s highways network manager, said: “Wakefield, like most other councils across the country, is faced with the very difficult task of maintaining thousands of kilometres of roads while dealing with the pothole legacy from two of the worst winters on record, and all in the wake of massive cuts to council budgets.

“The full budget for the 2011/12 financial year has been fully committed and we are still working hard to complete that programme.”

The council was allocated £830,000 by the Government in April towards road improvements - with £250,000 solely dedicated to tackling potholes.

The additional money was spent on urgent safety repairs and surface sealing and resurfacing works, which was the requirement of the grant.

Mr West said: “Within the last three weeks all roads across the district have been inspected. We use the results of these inspections, coupled with mechanical survey data, claims, and requests for service to put together the programme of works for 2012/13.”

But district councillor for South Emsall and South Kirkby, Wilf Benson, said that he was still fighting to get potholes on East Avenue, Ash Grove, and Westfield Lane in South Elmsall, and Mill Lane and Stockingate in South Kirkby fixed.

He said: “This winter has not been that bad so the council should have caught up with the potholes from the previous bad winters. They have had the money to do it.

“Instead of coming and filling a few pot holes on each street, they should just fill them all and do a complete job.”