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Road repairs costing £160m plus in mounting highways crisis
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
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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