Highways teams working hard to repair roads – but more help needed from Government

Highways teams are working hard to repair road surfaces after a winter that has seen periods of freezing temperatures but also exceptional rainfall – leading to the condition of roads deteriorating around the entire country.

Oxfordshire County Council has 13 teams out repairing the roads each day working within the funding the council has available. However even with the extra funding recently announced in the Chancellor’s Budget for local government, councils have for some time been significantly underfunded by central government for highway maintenance work.

Recently a national survey for the Asphalt Industry Alliance Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey - AIA The Asphalt Industry Alliance (asphaltuk.org) said that local authority highway teams in England and Wales only received around two-thirds of what they need from central government for highway maintenance and that £14 billion – £68,000 for every mile of local road nationally – is now needed to fix the backlog of carriageway repairs.

The county council is responsible for maintaining the local highway network in Oxfordshire, but not the trunk and motorway network which is managed by National Highways and includes the M40, A43 and the A34.

Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “We are being very proactive to repair roads within the funding we have available but we are in the same position as every council in the country – we are not given enough grant funding for this work by the government and that has been the case for many years now. The government needs to deal with this issue and give councils more help.

“Our highways teams work very hard in all weathers and conditions to maintain the 3,000 miles of road for which we are responsible. They also work hard to manage 2,000 miles of footway, 1,200 bridges, 400,000 highway trees and 80,000 streetlights.

“Every council in the country could do with more assistance from central government in doing this work but there is absolutely no shortage of effort and intent locally to do a good job. The period straight after winter is always the most difficult and we allocate resource with that in mind. In weather conditions that we have experienced, potholes can appear very quickly. We are prioritising those which pose the greatest safety concerns first. We will work very hard to repair potholes in coming weeks and months as we always do.”

Oxfordshire County Council currently spends more than £2m per year repairing potholes and over the past couple of years has changed the way repairs are done. The vast majority (97 per cent) are now cut square, joint sealed filled and compacted, to undertake a first time permanent fix. More than 30,000 defects were repaired in the last year financial year.

The county council has also invested in a ‘Dragon Patcher’. This machine is enabling the council to fill potholes at a reduced cost and therefore plays an important role in allowing teams to repair higher numbers of potholes on more minor roads that it may not otherwise have been able to afford to repair in the past. The dragon patcher allows for a much more proactive approach to dealing with defects that do not yet meet the criteria for urgent repair. The council still retains traditional pothole repair where appropriate.

The council would very much encourage members of the public to report potholes using www.fixmystreet.com, preferably with photograph. The reporters will be able to see if the defects have been reported previously, as existing reports will be visible. This also enables officers to react more quickly to reports in their specific areas and arrange repairs in line with the council’s policy.

People can also log on to the Oxfordshire County Council website www.oxfordshire.gov.uk to access Fix My Street and report potholes.

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