Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Pothole Busters figures don't quite stack up

On the front page of yesterday's Shropshire Star was a story claiming that Telford & Wrekin Council has repaired 26,500 potholes over the last 2 years at a cost of £300,000.

This isn't entirely accurate though - their contractors may have carried out 26,500 repairs to potholes but they weren't all different potholes.  The potholes that were recently repaired around Stirchley Interchange on the Eastern Primary (A442) were the same potholes that were repaired three or four months previously.  The potholes around the Bridge Retail Park and the island for the cinema carpark that were recently repaired were the same potholes repaired a few months previously.

The sheer logistics of making 26,500 road repairs in two years is an impressive feat but why were so many repairs needed?  Years of neglect and inadequate investment by both the Conservative and Labour administrations at Telford & Wrekin Council are mostly to blame but part of it is down to inadequate monitoring of the work carried out on the council's behalf.

In response to a Freedom of Information request I submitted earlier this year, Telford & Wrekin Council confirmed they don't record the rework rate for road repairs carried out by TWS and as a consequence don't know how many times we are paying them to repair the same potholes.  This isn't good value for the council taxpayers of Telford & Wrekin who are paying contractors to do the same jobs more than once.

The Pothole Busters scheme is a great idea and there's no doubt that strategic repairs to roads save money in the long term because small holes turn into serious road damage in the winter (the hole fills with water and freezes which pushes up the road from underneath because water expands when it freezes).  But the performance of the council's contractors needs to be measured and an important measure is the quality of their work.  If a pothole reappears a few months after being repaired then the contractor shouldn't be paid to repair it again.

You can contact Pothole Busters on 01952 384000.