Tuesday 16 July 2024
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Council ‘open to ridicule’ over figures suggesting 98% of Notts roads in good condition

Council figures suggesting the majority of Nottinghamshire’s roads are in a good condition leave the county council “open to ridicule”, an opposition councillor has warned.

But the Conservative-led administration hit back at the claim and suggested the county’s roads are by “no means the worst” in the country.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s transport and environment committee reviewed documents on Wednesday (23 March ) suggesting 98 per cent of A-roads in the county are in a good state.

The figures also suggested 97 per cent of B and C roads are in the same condition, with 75 per cent of unclassified roads also assessed as being in a good state of repair.

But one opposition councillor questioned the figures during the meeting and said, given longstanding issues with pothole repairs across Nottinghamshire, the figures would be “frankly confusing for residents”.

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Data  last year showed the council repaired more than 476,000 potholes in the five years to 2021, with year-on-year increases in the number of annual repairs.

It came at a time when the Conservative administration was finalising recommendations of its now-approved cross-party highways review, which will shift the authority’s focus towards more permanent road replacements.

The issue was debated during the meeting on Wednesday as councillors caught the first look at a three-year programme of investments into the county’s roads – a shift from the usual one-year plan to give residents “clarity”.

But speaking in the meeting, Councillor Tom Hollis (Ash Ind), who represents Sutton West, questioned the council’s suggestion roads in the county are currently in a good condition as the works get under way from April.

He said: “The figures contained in this report leave this council open to ridicule. To suggest [these figures is] frankly confusing for residents.

“If you don’t recognise the problem, how do you expect to fix it?

“Can I ask who undertakes the reviews of our roads and how far back do these figures go back?  Do they precede storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin?  I don’t need any analysis to tell me that our highways are in the worst state ever.”

In response, Gary Wood, group manager for highways on the authority, said the figures are the result of national assessments conducted by external surveyors.

But he said the assessments were undertaken in summer 2021 before any potential damage to the county’s roads from the three winter storms.

He said: “The figures in the report come from national indicators and they are based on national standards, they are not surveys undertaken by ourselves but by external surveyors.

“They all have to be nationally accredited and the A, B and C road figures are based on machine surveys – a machine that goes over the road to take measurements.

“They were done annually, so over the summer, [and] they are pre any damage that may have occurred from the storms.”

The highways review couples an additional £12 million investment from the council to double ‘patching gangs’ from four to eight across the county.

These gangs will shift the council’s focus away from temporary asphalt solution Viafix, with more roads to be permanently patched over and receive longer-term fixes.

And Cllr Neil Clarke (Con), chairman of the committee, hit back at the claim the county’s roads are in the worst state.

He says the highways review and the £12 million approved last month mean the authority now has work in place to “significantly improve” Nottinghamshire’s roads and pavements.

He said: “During the highways review panel meetings we talked about A, B and unclassified roads, and it was acknowledged then that the A and B roads are in just the condition of the quoted [statistics].

“It has also been evidenced by various surveys that Nottinghamshire is by no means anywhere near like being the worst roads in the country.

“You will know through the highways panel how much we have now got in place, the improvements to actually work hard to significantly improve the state of the roads in Nottinghamshire.”

Documents show the authority has budgeted £24.73 million for its highways works in the coming year.

About £4.5 million will be spent on maintenance to four A-roads, 10 B and C roads, and 21 unclassified roads across the county.

An additional £1.6 million will be spent on protective works to about 100 streets, with £1 million earmarked for preventative works and for street light improvements, £1.5 million for footway works and £800,000 for drainage.

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