Roads ‘set to deteriorate’

14th Febuary 2011.'council staff filling in potholes as part of a feature .' Pictured: Graham West'LOCATION: Stanley Street, Eastmoor, Wakefield''Picture: MATTHEW PAGE
14th Febuary 2011.'council staff filling in potholes as part of a feature .' Pictured: Graham West'LOCATION: Stanley Street, Eastmoor, Wakefield''Picture: MATTHEW PAGE
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IT would take £40m to bring all the district’s roads up to scratch - but crumbling budgets mean council bosses have a tough job keeping the highways safe.

A top local authority engineer told councillors this week that roads will continue to deteriorate and investment in Wakefield’s 900 miles of highways is needed.

Graham West, highway network manager, said he had faced criticism when making tough choices over which potholes to repair and which roads to resurface.

And despite an extra £830,000 being allocated to Wakefield for repairs by the government, £65m has been slashed nationally from the maintenance budget.

Mr West told Wednesday’s skills, enterprise and work overview and scrutiny committee that increased repairs meant safety had been the only priority during January and March.

He said: “We have got a certain amount of money. It’s not improving, its just reducing the rate of deterioration. It will deteriorate and it’s all about making it safe and reducing that deterioration.”

Roads in the district were battered by freezing weather conditions this winter. Mr West said it was estimated that a ‘one time catch-up’ cost to repair all the roads would cost £40m.

The most dangerous potholes were being treated as a priority. Mr West said: “We have got to get them all filled in. We have got put the investment in.

“It has been a very difficult time for my officers. Let’s use what we have got, understand the problem more and think about what investment opportunities there might be.”

A report to the meeting warned that leaving roads to deteriorate before full repairs were carried out could cost 10 times as much as intervening earlier.

The report said budgets were under pressure from an eight-fold increase in potholes and accelerated deterioration of the roads network.

And the council’s budget cuts could lead to 4,000 fewer pothole repairs or reductions in road strengthening treatments and resurfacing.

And third party accident claims could rise, although the council reduced payouts by £271,040 between 2008 and 2010.