Hull's £50m backlog of pothole repairs
THE man in charge of Hull's roads says he cannot defend the number of potholes – or reassure motorists that the situation will improve.
Councillor Martin Mancey has admitted there is a £50m backlog of repairs, leaving some city roads in the worst condition he has ever seen them in.
But he says the local authority's highways department would need another £5m a year to even begin to restore the roads to a condition he believes motorists have the right to expect.
Cllr Mancey, the portfolio holder for transport, said: "While I cannot defend the state of roads in this city, I cannot, unfortunately, give any assurances they will be restored to the condition motorists rightly deserve and expect."
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Cllr Mancey said the condition of the A63 and Castle Street, both the responsibility of the Highways Agency and not the council, is of particular concern, given their key location.
"These trunk roads, the entrance to Hull, are in the worst condition I can remember – and these are the direct responsibility of the Government," he said.
"The rest of the roads in this city that we, as a local authority, are responsible for are now in a worse condition than they were ten years ago.
"We are trying to address it, but we need the funds to do it."
Cllr Mancey said the public has "the right to expect more investment", but says his hands are tied given a lack of central Government funding.
Cllr Mancey said his highways department has been given £2.3m this year following the recent budget announcement.
He said: "Nationally, the typical annual shortfall is about £5.3m a year.
"So based on that, I would need at least another £5m a year to begin to address the backlog of repairs.
"In value terms, there have been varying figures given, but the backlog is at least £50m – and it's growing all the time."
During the 2012-13 financial year, the council completed repairs on 17km (10.5 miles) of road.
"It has been a year of enormous work, but we have 722km (448 miles) of roads in this city," said Cllr Mancey.
Despite recent complaints about potholes, Cllr Mancey said council figures show a reduction in the number of reported cases.
In 2010, 10,088 road defects were reported. In 2011, there were 7,467. Last year, just 5,642 defects were reported.
Cllr Mancey suggested this trend probably reflected a different approach being made to pothole repairs.
He said: "Rather than going out and repairing a single pothole, we are now looking at the area around it and resurfacing that, where it is required.
"Nationally, you see a lot of 'patchwork quilt' repairs. But it's the wrong approach.
"If a road surface is at the end of its life, you will get a rash of potholes."
Cllr Mancey said a recent Audit Commission report also challenged traditional methods of tackling potholes.
"It said reactive pothole repairs are not the best approach," he said. "Now, we are even going as far as pre-empting potholes."
Cllr Mancey urged tax- payers to campaign for fair funding from central Government.
He said: "While we are doing our best with what we have got, motorists need to be supporting organisations such as the AA in their campaigns for more investment in highway maintenance."