Potholed roads are threatening business

War zone - Samantha Stanley and neighbour Caroline Brice on one of the worst sections of the Helpringham Fen road. EMN-180320-105251001
War zone - Samantha Stanley and neighbour Caroline Brice on one of the worst sections of the Helpringham Fen road. EMN-180320-105251001

Rural businesses say the state of local roads is threatening their livelihoods.

Residents and business owners are exasperated at the lack of action by the county’s highways department despite weeks of calling for repairs to heavily potholed fenland roads that are their only access routes.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance announced this week that it could take 14 years for England’s cash-strapped local authorities to bring local roads across the country back up to standard if they had the funding.

Jane Wesley of Fen Farm Venison at Horbling Fen has been reporting the dangerous stretches of road down to her property since November, counting 187 potholes.

She said: “It’s like a war zone. We had a customer come down here the other day who said she will not come again until it is fixed. We have a caravan site and visitors to the shop and people are not keen to come down here. In the wet you cannot see how deep the potholes are and they are on both sides of the road so they are unavoidable and will cause serious damage.”

The situation is just as bad on Helperingham Fen, where Chris Taylor runs Regal Garden Buildings. He said: “We are getting to the point where 18-ton vehicles from our suppliers are risking blowing their tyres out because they cannot avoid the holes, because they are loaded with timber. My van has had to go in for a damaged shock absorber. Customers are saying if they had known how bad it was they would not come. We may be losing business.

“If we cannot get supplies in we would have to stop production. We have 10 staff here, but with no timber - no sheds.”

Neighbour and farmer Samantha Stanley had counted over 120 potholes in half a mile on their road and had been waiting 10 weeks for action from the council. People were destroying the grass verges to avoid the holes and making things worse.

She said by not reacting sooner, the council was storing up more costs in the future. She said. “We are having to allow extra journey times and if you are always looking out for potholes you are not concentrating on the road ahead.”

Coun Richard Davies, Executive Member for Highways, said: “We are aware of the issues on South Fen Road and will be making repairs along the entire length of the road. However, at this stage, we can’t give a firm date for when those works will take place.

“We need to prioritise repairs to the busiest routes.

“The weather this year has been a nightmare for the roads, and we have seen more potholes than usual as a result.

“Our crews are currently repairing thousands of potholes every month, and we’ve also brought in three additional teams to help deal with the extra workload.”

He said the council was still campaigning for fairer funding to get more repairs done.