Road repairs costing £160m plus in mounting highways crisis

Banbury Cake: Lib Dem councillor Roz Smith with a pothole Lib Dem councillor Roz Smith with a pothole

THE council’s transport boss has said they are struggling to “keep Oxfordshire open for business” after it was revealed more than £160m is needed to bring the county’s roads up to scratch.

Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for transport David Nimmo Smith said: “We have been trying to keep the most heavily trafficked roads in a good state and that has meant prioritising, but we can’t do that forever.

“Some of the county’s roads have deteriorated to a state where the edges have broken away.”

The authority has said it would need a one-off amount of about £167m to fix all the potholes and other defects as well as a yearly upkeep budget of £23m.

But it can only afford to this year spend £17.178m on the work.

It comes as politicians have welcomed a central Government cash injection of £4m but said it is not enough.

Cllr Nimmo Smith stressed that a lack of funds for road repairs was a national problem, but called on central Government to take the problem more seriously.

When asked if people should expect things to get worse, he said it would depend on the kind of winters we have.

He added: “If this country continues to be reliant on its road network and getting people into business it is going to have to do something

about the underlying situation and condition of the roads.
“But we are pushing for more money from central Government and what this council has done is, despite budget pressures, not taken
any more money out of
highways.”
In the coming weeks, the Department for Transport is set to inform councils across the county how they can bid for more money from a central Government “pothole relief” fund, outlined in Chancellor George Osborne’s most recent budget.
But there will only be £200m available for the whole country – just over the amount estimated to fix Oxfordshire’s roads alone for a year.
Chairman of Oxford cyclist group Cyclox Simon Hunt said potholes were also dangerous for cyclists.
He said: “Things are clearly getting worse on a general level and that is mainly down to the extreme weather we have had.
“Although there is some patching going on there are lots of roads where it is a dangerous hazard for cyclists.
“The council could be doing a better job, but people need to also be more proactive in reporting potholes and road damage.”
Abingdon taxi driver Colin Dobson, from Oxford, said he had become familiar with many of the potholes.
He said: “They are very annoying, but now I tend to avoid them because I know where they all are.”
Bladon resident Mary Sitch had £267 worth of damage caused to the wheel of her
car by a pothole near her home on Heath Lane, on April 13
last year.
She has been fighting to get compensation for the repairs since then, but said she was refused by the county council on the basis that it did not know about the pothole.
Mrs Sitch, who is 86, said: “They won’t accept responsibility because they say there was not a reasonable time to take action.”

  • The county council says potholes deeper than 40 millimetres or wider than 150 millimetres need urgent attention. To report one, call 0845 310 1111 or visit fixmystreet.oxfordshire.gov.uk
  • Have you seen a giant pothole? Or is your road full of them? Call our newsdesk on 01865 425500.

Pothole facts...

  • To be defined as a pothole, the minimum depth a hole must be is 40 milimetres.
  • The county council budgets about £4m annually for “reactive repairs”, used mainly for filling potholes.
  • It said that the contractor it employs, Swedish firm Scanska, charges it an average of £60 per pothole.s 
  • The council estimates it fixed 36,118 between February 2012 and February 2013, and 28,886 for the same period the previous year.
  • When asked how many reports it received each year of potholes the council would not supply the figure for this story.

 

Methods 'not up to scratch'

 Great Milton resident and former pothole filler Bob Wise, pictured above, who worked for Associated Asphalt, is convinced that Oxfordshire County Council’s modern-day methods are not up to scratch.

Banbury Cake:

  • Bob Wise



He said: “Years ago, I worked for Associated Asphalt, repairing large patches on roads and potholes.

“What we used to fill with was hot asphalt and when the repair was complete hot tar was poured around where the new tarmac met the old, giving a waterproof seal.
“Potholes are now filled with a cold something that is similar to hot tarmac to look at, but they no longer get sealed.”
Oxfordshire County Council was asked for comment but did not respond.

Comments (8)

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11:07am Mon 31 Mar 14

Neonlights says...

“hot tar was poured around where the new tarmac met the old, giving a waterproof seal."

I could be wrong, but I was told the reason this no longer happens is because it can cause a slip hazzard for motorcylists in wet weather.

IMHO, it's no more of a hazzard than a wet drain cover is.

Cost cutting more like.
“hot tar was poured around where the new tarmac met the old, giving a waterproof seal." I could be wrong, but I was told the reason this no longer happens is because it can cause a slip hazzard for motorcylists in wet weather. IMHO, it's no more of a hazzard than a wet drain cover is. Cost cutting more like. Neonlights
  • Score: 4

2:27pm Mon 31 Mar 14

occasionalcommenter says...

I did wonder why there were workmen in my street last week, replacing the curbs..... I had not noticed anything wrong to begin with, nor is the road particularly bad with potholes - why were they spending money here rather than some of the other roads?

It just looked like they were trying to spend money quickly to use up their current budget so they don't lose it come April...... why again do they not have enough money for the repairs needed?! Perhaps look at some of the unnecessary work going on already!!!

Why are we still waiting for potholes to be fixed on the London road just because they want to create another bus lane?!
I did wonder why there were workmen in my street last week, replacing the curbs..... I had not noticed anything wrong to begin with, nor is the road particularly bad with potholes - why were they spending money here rather than some of the other roads? It just looked like they were trying to spend money quickly to use up their current budget so they don't lose it come April...... why again do they not have enough money for the repairs needed?! Perhaps look at some of the unnecessary work going on already!!! Why are we still waiting for potholes to be fixed on the London road just because they want to create another bus lane?! occasionalcommenter
  • Score: 1

3:17pm Mon 31 Mar 14

The New Private Eye says...

The council should charge Stagecoach and Go Ahead. The only roads that are destroyed are on their bus routes. Carfax to The Plain should have lasted 25 years according to Ian Hudspeth, it lasted 4 years, London Road the same, Cowley Road is like a mine field around the bus stops' and the same all over our city. The council are just wasting our money on patching up. Because within one month the repairs are back to worse than before. The buses get a massive subsidy, charge the most in the UK, and get away with red light running, yellow box blocking, and destroying our roads with impunity. Who is taking the kickback?
The council should charge Stagecoach and Go Ahead. The only roads that are destroyed are on their bus routes. Carfax to The Plain should have lasted 25 years according to Ian Hudspeth, it lasted 4 years, London Road the same, Cowley Road is like a mine field around the bus stops' and the same all over our city. The council are just wasting our money on patching up. Because within one month the repairs are back to worse than before. The buses get a massive subsidy, charge the most in the UK, and get away with red light running, yellow box blocking, and destroying our roads with impunity. Who is taking the kickback? The New Private Eye
  • Score: 5

7:17pm Mon 31 Mar 14

Rally Man says...

Strange how they can find money to install all thoes good for nothing gates at the outskirts of our villages around the county
Strange how they can find money to install all thoes good for nothing gates at the outskirts of our villages around the county Rally Man
  • Score: 0

7:43pm Mon 31 Mar 14

melyn am byth says...

occasionalcommenter.
.. same thing happened down Kendall Crescent last week, workmen spent 3 days re-surfacing the hard standing infront of the council garages.
Hardly essential maintenance I would argue.
occasionalcommenter. .. same thing happened down Kendall Crescent last week, workmen spent 3 days re-surfacing the hard standing infront of the council garages. Hardly essential maintenance I would argue. melyn am byth
  • Score: 0

6:38am Tue 1 Apr 14

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

Parts of Greater Leys have or are having nice new kerbs installed, wasn't anything wrong with what was there. Somebody at the Council needs to provide answers as to why so many resources are being wasted on non priority work.
Parts of Greater Leys have or are having nice new kerbs installed, wasn't anything wrong with what was there. Somebody at the Council needs to provide answers as to why so many resources are being wasted on non priority work. Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: 0

10:34am Tue 1 Apr 14

snert says...

Rally Man wrote:
Strange how they can find money to install all thoes good for nothing gates at the outskirts of our villages around the county
Almost all, if not all of those gates are paid for by sponsors or donations to the parish council and have nothing to do with the county councils.

Also, a lot of seemingly pointless work is often done aroun February/March as councils seek to spend their remaining budget to ensure they get the same or more the next year. If they don't spend all of it, their budgets get cut. It's a practice that has been going on for years.

On the point of not being able to keep up with the mounting costs of maintaining the failing roads... If they actually bothered to maintain them rather than let them exceed their known lifespan until they fail, they wouldn't be in this predicament.

Prevention is better than a cure.
[quote][p][bold]Rally Man[/bold] wrote: Strange how they can find money to install all thoes good for nothing gates at the outskirts of our villages around the county[/p][/quote]Almost all, if not all of those gates are paid for by sponsors or donations to the parish council and have nothing to do with the county councils. Also, a lot of seemingly pointless work is often done aroun February/March as councils seek to spend their remaining budget to ensure they get the same or more the next year. If they don't spend all of it, their budgets get cut. It's a practice that has been going on for years. On the point of not being able to keep up with the mounting costs of maintaining the failing roads... If they actually bothered to maintain them rather than let them exceed their known lifespan until they fail, they wouldn't be in this predicament. Prevention is better than a cure. snert
  • Score: 0

12:28pm Tue 1 Apr 14

King Joke says...

The New Private Eye wrote:
The council should charge Stagecoach and Go Ahead. The only roads that are destroyed are on their bus routes. Carfax to The Plain should have lasted 25 years according to Ian Hudspeth, it lasted 4 years, London Road the same, Cowley Road is like a mine field around the bus stops' and the same all over our city. The council are just wasting our money on patching up. Because within one month the repairs are back to worse than before. The buses get a massive subsidy, charge the most in the UK, and get away with red light running, yellow box blocking, and destroying our roads with impunity. Who is taking the kickback?
Private Eye, please advise which of the 95% of bus services in the County which run commercially are getting 'massive subsidy' from the County Council? It simply isn't true.

Carfax to The Plain looks good to me, four years after it was put down. The London Rd at the Green Rd end is much older than that.

The County as transport authority gets, at little expense to itself, a decent modern high-frequency high-capacty low-emission bus service provided by the private sector. The least it can do is provide road infrastructure which will support this, no pun intended.
[quote][p][bold]The New Private Eye[/bold] wrote: The council should charge Stagecoach and Go Ahead. The only roads that are destroyed are on their bus routes. Carfax to The Plain should have lasted 25 years according to Ian Hudspeth, it lasted 4 years, London Road the same, Cowley Road is like a mine field around the bus stops' and the same all over our city. The council are just wasting our money on patching up. Because within one month the repairs are back to worse than before. The buses get a massive subsidy, charge the most in the UK, and get away with red light running, yellow box blocking, and destroying our roads with impunity. Who is taking the kickback?[/p][/quote]Private Eye, please advise which of the 95% of bus services in the County which run commercially are getting 'massive subsidy' from the County Council? It simply isn't true. Carfax to The Plain looks good to me, four years after it was put down. The London Rd at the Green Rd end is much older than that. The County as transport authority gets, at little expense to itself, a decent modern high-frequency high-capacty low-emission bus service provided by the private sector. The least it can do is provide road infrastructure which will support this, no pun intended. King Joke
  • Score: 0

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