Villagers step up complaints about potholes

Craig Wood has complained that potholes are being ignored in Burton Pedwardine, but county councillor Martin Hill says they have to prioritise spending. EMN-190513-172605001
Craig Wood has complained that potholes are being ignored in Burton Pedwardine, but county councillor Martin Hill says they have to prioritise spending. EMN-190513-172605001

The Leader of the county council, Martin Hill, has delivered a cutting reply to a number of parish councillors complaining about the state of their cracked and potholed roads and failures in the county’s fault reporting system.

Coun Craig Wood of Burton Pedwardine parish meeting had escalated the complaint on behalf of his council, along with that of Great Hale, Little Hale, Helpringham and Swaton.

In April last year he wrote to Coun Richard Davies, executive member for highways expressing dissatisfaction that potholes were being reported via the county council’s online system but then being marked as repaired when nothing had been done.

In March this year he raised a formal complaint “over continued examples of mismanagement”. He says the response contained both factual errors and admissions of procedural and operational failures.

He complained that the council was “failing in its duties as a responsible and competent authority” as some potholes in his parish are “so old we have vegetation growing in some of them” adding: “The lack of proper management of the repair process results in repair gangs having insufficient resources to complete the schedule of works. Wholly inappropriate repairs are being attempted.”

Mr Wood said: “Burton Pedwardine and Burton Gorse Village Meeting voted unanimously in support of a motion of no confidence in Lincolnshire County Council at its Annual General Meeting on May 7. There can be no stronger expression of dissatisfaction in the operation of a County Council by members of the community it is supposed to serve.

In response, Coun Martin Hill, Leader of the county council said it was “simply not realistic” to repair every pothole as soon as they are aware of it, despite investing millions more in road repairs and brought in additional staff to help deal with the potholes caused by the bad winter, as the situation “remains challenging”.

Instead, he said they prioritise potholes based on the potential risk they pose to the public, tackling the most serious defects on the busiest routes with the greatest urgency. He said last year over 90 perc ent of them were dealt with within two hours.

This means it can take longer for repairs to be made on less well-used rural roads.

Coun Hill said: “We realise this can be a frustrating situation for some residents, but it is the most sensible, and fairest, approach to take given the circumstances.”

He admitted the online fault reporting system was “not perfect” but it was the most efficient way of dealing with most problems.

He commented: “I would far rather our highways officers were out on the roads dealing with actual issues than be stuck in the office completing admin.

“Most parishes understand the reality of the situation, and choose to work positively with the county council in the best interests of their community.

“However, you appear to believe that by taking a combative attitude your parish will be given special treatment. I can assure this will not be the case.

“While I understand your dissatisfaction, I believe this is more the result of unrealistic expectations as to what can be achieved with the available funding, as opposed to any failings on the part of the county council.”

Coun Hill said the the county is nationally recognised as one of the country’s top-performing highways authorities.