Monday 18 February 2013

Focus on Quality as Pothole Patrol tackles the nitty gritty

Potholes got Herald readers talking this week, after cold weather and poor repair jobs have seen hundreds appearing on the town’s roads and creating havoc for motorists.

Things may be warming up for the weekend, but the cold icy conditions back in January caused a noticeable increase in potholes across Eastbourne.

Readers have been in touch via Facebook and with locations of some of the biggest, dangerous and most damaging offenders.

And Herald photographer Stephen Curtis took to the roads of Eastbourne this week to take pictures of the potholes readers are most concerned about.

The council says it is taking a pro-active approach and encouraging people to let them know about the worst potholes in Eastbourne.

Cllr Carl Maynard, lead member for transport and environment at the county council, said, “This year alone we’ve spent £19.5m on road resurfacing. But even with this level of investment we will still get additional problems occurring when severe weather hits us.

“We’re sending extra work gangs out to repair the most serious potholes as soon as they are reported.
“We have to prioritise our work - so the largest holes on the busiest routes will be at the top of our list.”

But it seems the biggest bugbear among Herald readers is the quality of the repairs.

Eastbourne Borough Councillor Patrick Warner said, “What I have found is that often the sub contractor does not seem to repair them to the standard set by the county council.

“Only the other day, a constituent advised me that one of the crews turned up, tipped some tarmac into the hole, jumped up and down on it a couple of times and then drove off and this was a repeat repair following a previous similarly shoddy attempt.

“I am now working with Highways officers to crack down on poor quality repairs and ensure taxpayers do not have to pay for sub-standard repairs.

“All holes should be cut out properly, completely filled and sealed around the edge in order to last as long as possible and I understand that doing the job properly only takes minutes longer.”

Roger Williams, head of highways, said, “We are grateful to residents for reporting problems and agree this standard of work is not acceptable. We have spoken with our contractor and made our concerns very clear.

“Any repair work not up to scratch will be redone at their own expense.”

Cllr Warner is currently working with Highways officials to tackle quality with the contractor. He said "Hammonds Drive is a perfect example of the challenge we now face, the increased focus is starting to pay off with reported holes, getting tackled faster than was the case at the start of the crisis because of the extra gangs being deployed to speed up repairs but here we have a busy road on an Eastbourne industrial estate. The worst of the holes I reported last week were all repaired fairly quickly and to the required standard but when I went back to check on quality, I found an alarming amount which had been left untreated alongside evidence of previous poor quality repairs that had started to open back up again and had also been left".

This busy road is used by numerous vans from the factories, cars and pedal cycles from employees, cement mixer lorries from the cement works and police cars, often on blue light emergency calls. Cllr Warner added, "the potential for a serious accident with injury or loss of life is clear for all to see here and underlines the need to crack down on the quality of repairs and I will not relent until the quality improves".

Above: The black rectangles are examples of the increasing number of good quality repairs starting to be done but Cllr Warner has requested Highways Officers look into why smaller adjacent holes were completely ignored which will require a further visit in just days as the holes get bigger.

Above: Another example in the same road, of a hole big enough for a Land Rover wheel to drop down into, just imagine the consequences of a cyclist coming into contact with that in the dark, dazzled by the oncoming lights of a police car on an emergency response.

Above: Evidence of previous substandard repairs that have opened straight up again in the same road which were also ignored last week.
If you have seen a pothole which either needs repairing or has not been repaired properly, call the county council on 0345 60 80 193, via Twitter @esccroads or online

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