It’s a subject that never fails to leave residents fuming – and now even the report that Lincolnshire County Council is spending a further £1.7 million on filling potholes is only highlighting the extent of the problem.
Readers posted numerous pictures of roads they believe are dangerous after the local authority made the announcement last week.
The Standard even received a complaint by a retired LCC highways supervisor regarding the authority’s response time to his reported ‘dangerous’ pothole, which he believed was ‘life-threatening’.
The additional money the county council has received brings their total highways repairs funding pot to £4.2m.
A statement from Lincolnshire County Council said the money would ‘make a difference’ but added that there was still more to be done and further investment hoped for.
Executive member for Highways and Transport, Coun Richard Davies said: “The weather this year has been especially bad for the roads, so this extra money is particularly welcome.
“We’re repairing thousands of potholes every month, with over 4,000 dealt with in December alone.
“Dangerous defects are fixed as a matter of urgency, with other issues being prioritised and dealt with as resources allow. “While this extra £1.7m will make a difference, there’s much more to be done, and we would like to see even greater Government investment in our local roads.”
Retired highways supervisor for LCC Mick Smith, of Burgh-le-Marsh, says he’s never known the roads so bad in the 30 years he was in charge before he retired in 2009.
Mr Smith complained to the Standard about potholes on the A155 between West Keal and East Kirkby that he believed could easily have fetched a motor cyclist off his machine, as well as damaged wheels. He said: “I reported it as dangerous and required urgent attention (more than three inches deep) just after 3pm last Thursday afternoon and took photos. In my day that would have been filled and made safe within two hours, like any pothole that could damage a vehicle or cause an accident.
“I checked again on the Friday morning at 7.45am (more photos) and it was still there. It was actually filled mid-morning of that day, but I wonder how many wheels and tyres were damaged, and this time the council got lucky no-one was injured or killed.
“Poor drainage is one of the biggest contributing factors to the problem and in my 30 years working for Lincolnshire County Council, I have never seen the highway drainage in such a mess. “If roads were flooding we dealt with it, but when water permeates into the road structure, especially in the winter, it freezes. Then, with the passing of traffic, begins to break up the road surface.
“I was fortunate in my days that I had direct access to the contractors’ pothole patrol to get the work done, a phone call and he would attend. I believe nowadays if there is not a bit of paper it doesn’t get filled. Maybe the word ‘dangerous’ has changed since I retired but, in my view, somebody’s head should roll over this.”
The Standard contacted Lincolnshire County Council and Coun Davies replied to Mr Smith’s complaint, saying: “Despite the high numbers we’re currently experiencing, the potholes on the A155 were repaired within 24 hours of their being reported.
“It’s normal for more potholes to develop at this time of year, but the weather this year has been particularly bad for the roads. The combination of wet weather, freezing temperatures and mild spells means potholes are even more likely to form.”
Potholes where also a hot topic at Wednesday night’s Skegness Town Council meeting.
Coun Mark Anderson, of St Clements ward, said: “I am constantly getting complaints about the appalling state of the roads. One bus service has stopped going down St Mary’s Road because of fears the state of the road could break a bus’ suspension.
“It’s the same everywhere you go in the county.”
However, the state of the roads is not diminishing residents sense of humour, with pictures being posted of upside-down wellies in a pothole and even an alligator’s head popping out of one.
Coun Steve Kirk, at the town council meeting, added his favourite: “It’s said in the UK you drive on the left but in Lincolnshire you drive anywhere you can.”
He said: “It all comes down to the same thing - there isn’t the money to fix them.”
Councillors were urged to support Lincolnshire County Council’s call to the Government for fairer funding, following a highways engagement meeting with Executive Member for Highways and Transport, Coun Richard Davies, attended by several of the area’s councils.
Mr Davies said the council spends around £50m on highways maintenance each year, adding that: “While this sounds like a lot of money, we have 5,500 miles of road to maintain and that funding will only go so far. That’s why we’re calling on the Government for fairer funding for Lincolnshire. If councils here received the average funding for council areas in England, the region would benefit from £116 million of extra funding for services every year – some of which could be used towards highways repairs. That would make a massive difference.”
l Lincolnshire County Council told the Standard it repairs potholes considered a safety issue (which usually means it is 40mm or deeper) as follows:
A roads and busiest B roads – made safe within 24 hours, and a repair arranged
B roads and busiest C roads - 7 days
C roads and unclassified roads - 28 days
Anyone wanting to report a highways fault is asked to visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/faultreporting or call 01522 782070.