Furore over the poor filling of potholes on one of Longridge’s main traffic routes broke out yesterday, just as Lancashire County Council replied to an MP’s criticism it is not spending enough money on the borough’s deteriorating roads.
Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans had slammed the county council for what he claimed was its “poor service” in failing to deal with the deteriorating roads and wrote to Communities and Local Government Secretary Greg Clark asking for district authorities to be given more power and funding to deal with roads.
But LCC’s head of highways Phil Durnell says his council is planning to spend £10.3m on long-term road maintenance, such as resurfacing across Lancashire’s 12 districts, and 12% of that total, £1.2m, will be spent repairing Ribble Valley’s roads.
He said: “An additional £666,000 from the funding we received following the December storms is being spent on repairing roads in Ribble Valley. We received a further £1.2m from the government’s Pothole Action Fund last week and need to consider how this will be allocated.”
He said LCC aims to fix any potholes they find within 20 working days, and repaired 98% of the 3,075 found in Ribble Valley last year within that time.
But, he said: “The consistently wet weather and exceptional floods this winter have had a severe impact on our roads, and in February and March we found around 50% more potholes than during an average winter. It is very difficult to make a lasting repair during such wet conditions and we are monitoring the work done over this period as we will need to revisit some sites now the weather has improved.”
He said LCC has employed 29 extra repair teams from external contractors to add to its 24, to ensure potholes are fixed quickly.
In his letter to Mr Clark, Mr Evans spoke of his “grave concerns” Ribble Valley was not receiving its fair share of funding and last week told The News: “I have contacted LCC on a number of occasions, and my concerns have received little interest.
Furore broke out in Longridge yesterday after one of the town’s worst affected routes saw contractors repairing just seven potholes on two really bad sections of the B5269 on King Street and Market Place, leaving many unfilled, as they had not been whitelined.
Coun David Smith said he could not believe it, and had to go twice to check, as some of the worst potholes - deep enough to damage tyres - had been ignored.
He said: “It is the economics of madness and sadly not the only example of this kind. Too often a pothole is filled whilst two yards away a similar pothole is ignored, as it hasn’t been whitelined.”
He said there was a lack of commonsense and engineers on the ground should be allowed to use their own judgement, as you could not plan repairs of this nature using the technology of the whiteline machine.
“It is absolute madness and they will have to come back before too long and it is going to be very, very expensive,” he added.
Longridge mayor, Coun Sarah Rainford said it would be interesting “to discover the methodology being applied to determine how seven potholes in that location were identified from the many that are evident.”
She said: “I wonder what the real cost is of sending an inspection team out to identify and record the pothole locations, the admin process of instructing a contractor and finally the deployment of a contract team for multiple visits for seven potholes verses the cost of resolving all of the potholes in one organised visit. It seems on the face of it as false economy which is very worrying in a time of austerity budgets being imposed.”