Money down the pothole

OMBC HighwaysWINTER IS well and truly upon us and – as our gritters work their way around the borough keeping us all moving and safe – we can already see the impact of freezing temperatures on the roads.

I’d like to thank our hardworking team who worked round the clock over the festive break against the elements.

I know many residents appreciate that this is no easy task, but it is also one that is vital to local communities.

We also know how important the condition of roads is to all residents.

No one likes driving over a pothole or the damage they can cause to vehicles and pedestrians, not to mention cyclists.

I have covered this topic before and it also got a significant mention in my Annual Report to Full Council, but it’s an issue that won’t go away and we’re constantly looking at ways to make our roads better.

Road maintenance has been seriously underfunded for decades nationally leaving many towns and cities in a scenario where their work is just about dealing with the most severe cases.

As it stands one in five roads across the country are now classified as being in a poor condition.

Hot off the press a new report covered by the BBC has again highlighted the very serious situation we find ourselves in.

Despite the latest £6bn investment from government the funding gap is getting bigger and bigger.

The true cost to bring roads up to a decent standard across the country now stands at £12bn, or even higher according to the asphalt industry.

In Oldham our repair backlog now stands at around £60m with neighbouring Rochdale not far behind. Many will say that council has failed to invest, but that just isn’t right.

Every penny which comes to us for highways maintenance is spent on road repairs. The truth is that government do not provide anywhere near enough to cover the true scale of the challenge.

We surely can’t continue to just patch up and fill individual potholes when the roads need more fundamental work and only complete reconstruction or resurfacing will solve the problem.

With an estimated 42 per cent increase in traffic volume forecast by 2040, it’s clear this problem won’t be going away.

The Local Government Association is now spearheading a campaign as part of its 100 days in office plan for whichever government takes power in May. The plan makes a great deal of sense and I expect the vast majority of the public would agree.

It would see an additional £1bn a year being directed to road repairs (not simply building new roads or new expensive engineering schemes) by allocating just 2p per litre from existing fuel duty. Motorists paying into a system which in turn benefits every road user can only be a good thing.

Meanwhile we’re not sitting idly by and hoping someone eventually sorts our roads out for us in Oldham. We’ve worked hard to catch up and this year alone will have invested £17m in transport and road repairs.

That funding means every one of our ‘A’ main roads will have a 24-hour repair promise in place. That does exactly what it says on the tin. If you report it, we’ll repair it within 24 hours. This ensures the most heavily-used routes are maintained to a decent standard, reducing insurance claims and providing a good service.

As with most things I understand that we’re all so busy getting on with our lives that we don’t always remember to report a pothole or damaged road surface we when see it.

I would ask that you please do your bit by letting us know because we can then arrange to repair the most urgent.

HRepair2To do that you can now sign-up to your own My Account on the Oldham Council website.

This new system lets you manage all your involvement with the council in one place – from claiming benefits to reporting litter and potholes.

If you haven’t already registered to use this, please do so. Not only is it convenient but it also saves the council – and in return, you – money.

Finally, if you’ve just taken your Christmas tree down and need to recycle it then we can help. You can chop them up and leave them in your green bins for the next scheduled collection or take it to your local household waste recycling centre – or to one of the following ‘drop off’ points:

– Higher Memorial Park (car park), Grafton Street, Failsworth
– Churchill Playing Fields (car park), Wellington Road, Greenfield
– Royton Park (car park), Bleasdale Street, Royton
– Werneth Park (car park), Frederick Street, Werneth.

Thanks for listening,

Jim

One thought on “Money down the pothole

  1. Kieron Fletcher

    Hadn’t Oldham Council embarked on the pointless ‘road calming’ measures and building speed humps the size of a small hymalian mountain, then having to dig them all up as they were to high to then build more just slightly smaller but actually used that money for what it was intended for, fixing the roads, then maybe, just maybe, the roads would be semi OK. Also, how many times does Ashton Road have to be dug up? Surely, the utilities boards should be charged more for leaving them in such a state every time they dig them up

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