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Torbay Mayor calls for help to fight pothole battle

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 28, 2013

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Gordon Oliver

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Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver has asked central government for more cash for roads in the wake of a backlog of repairs and the potential for a spike in compensation claims.

He revealed that 25% of Torbay's roads now need repairs.

Mr Oliver said: "I have written to the Department for Transport and our local MPs to make the Government aware of the worsening state of our roads.

"I have emphasised that apart from the massive financial implications of losing any part of our highways asset and the consequent economic catastrophe for the community, the public could be left at real risk of injury and the council left with spiralling compensation claims.

"Despite our own budget pressures, we are doing our best to maintain our roads, but we really do need more Government financial support.

"Other councils have expressed similar concerns, and I am keen that the Government is made fully aware of the situation in Torbay.

"Whilst I recognise the country is still going through tough times, it is essential that we continue to voice our concerns over the state of our roads."

In his letter, Mr Oliver said Torbay Council had taken positive steps in 1998 to spend money on its footway network, resulting in a reduction in personal injury claims.

He wrote in his letter: "The option to invest in carriageways in the same way as Torbay did for footways is not there as overall maintenance budgets provided have, in real terms, declined dramatically, particularly over the last three years, whilst the number of potholes requiring repairs has quadrupled.

"In addition with associated rising construction costs, Torbay is just about able to keep the carriageway claims defendable due to our competency with the inspection regime. However, the increasing numbers of potholes and the evolved nature of many local roads have led to the council looking to find cheaper methods of repairs.

"There has been a positive effort at concentrating available resources on preventative carriageway treatments to maximise its effectiveness but the structural condition of the network is failing and we will soon be facing a financial watershed, increased claims, higher insurance premiums and the greater risk to the highway user."

The Mayor said the council's "ongoing inspection regime and pavement management system" had identified that 518 streets – 25% of the Bay's network – were now in need of some form of resurfacing, be it thin surfacing, a new surfacing course or full reconstruction.

The current budget would allow Torbay to undertake 47 road surfacing schemes in the next financial year, which he said was a 'small dent' in the current backlog of works.

Mr Oliver went on: "We know that the roads already identified as needing repair are worsening all the time and in many cases the originally planned thin surfacing schemes now have to be considered for replacement surfacing layers or total reconstruction.

"Of the remaining 471 carriageways that require surfacing, 405 are currently suitable for a thin surfacing treatment, which is approximately 10 times cheaper than full reconstruction.

"If we were able to invest £10 million now, we could attend to these outstanding surfacing works, whilst delaying works will inevitably push more of these carriageways into needing full reconstruction works with the obvious financial costs."

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