Calderdale Council given more money to tackle potholes

Potholes, Birds Royd Lane, Brighouse
Potholes, Birds Royd Lane, Brighouse

Extra money to repair Calderdale’s pothole-riddled roads has been welcomed by the council.

Calderdale has been allocated £385,751 by the Department of Transport, who have handed over £100 million of funding to councils across England to repair damage caused by an “unusually prolonged spell of freezing weather,” said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

He added: “People rely on good roads to get to work and to see friends or family.

“We have seen an unusually prolonged spell of freezing weather which has caused damage to our local roads.

“We are giving councils even more funding to help repair their roads all road users can enjoy their journeys without having to dodge potholes.”

The extra cash means around £1m will have been invested in repairing potholes in Calderdale between the financial years 2017-18 and 2018-19.

The council received 3,639 complaints about potholes and road conditions between 2015 and 2017.

Wakefield Road in Brighouse received 58 complaints about its potholes in that time, with Bradford Road in Brighouse prompting 57 complaints and Burnley Road in Todmorden provoking 48 complaints.

Calderdale Council’s Assistant Director Strategic Infrastructure. Steven Lee, said: “We welcome the funding boost from the Department for Transport to help us tackle potholes in Calderdale. This gives us approximately an additional £100,000 on top of the £285,000 that we were expecting for 2018/19, and will help us tackle the extra problems we are facing due to the particularly bad weather conditions this winter.

“Together with the Council’s own contribution, we will therefore now have around £580,000 to spend on improving road surfaces around the borough in the coming 12 months. I’m confident we can continue improving the condition of Calderdale’s roads. However, in common with the rest of West Yorkshire, we will continue to push the government for further funding to help us fully address issues related to potholes and road damage.

“We take a proactive approach to repairs and since 2015 we have repaired around 42,000 potholes. Unfortunately the freezing temperatures and relentless rain of British winters make roads more susceptible to damage and we always see an increase in the number of potholes at this time of year. So far, we have invested almost £400,000 this financial year in work specifically to tackle potholes, and we are currently using around eight tonnes of tarmac per day to address reported issues and those from our safety inspectors.

“Each financial year we receive approximately £200,000 from the Department for Transport to tackle potholes. Although the funding goes some way to assist us with highways maintenance, we would require significantly more funding to fully address issues related to potholes and road damage.

“Last month we have received an additional £191,000 from the Department for Transport, as part of £1.5million which has been distributed to local authorities in West Yorkshire. This will help us tackle the current problems caused by the particularly bad winter and also be used in 2018/19.

“We do all we can to tackle potholes and carry out regular inspections. We also encourage people to report any road defects on our website. Given the number of complaints has tumbled in the last year, I’m pleased to see our hard work is having a positive effect.”

Philip Gomm of the RAC Foundation said: “Any money is welcome but the underlying problems remain.

“Council roads are now resurfaced, on average, once every 78 years. Therefore it’s easy to understand why the combined forces of record traffic volumes, bad weather and seemingly endless sets of street works are winning the battle and causing our highways to decay.

“There is no quick, easy or cheap solution. Until we start seeing our road network as important a utility as the power, water and telecoms networks it is hard to see how years of underinvestment will be reversed.

“Part of the solution could be ring fenced, guaranteed funding for local roads similar to that promised for our motorways from 2020.”

Figures from Cycling UK show that Calderdale Council has paid out £451,213.36 in legal costs and compensation claims relating to potholes since 2013.

More than 100 cyclists and motorists have received compensation from the council since 2013.

Sam Jones Cycling UK’s senior campaigns officer said: “Any funding which will help improve our roads is welcome, but it does not change the fact it is still too little too late. Giving money simply to fill potholes is the same as if a doctor had put a broken leg in plaster before setting the fracture. The bone is still weak, poorly healed and more likely to break again and the same can be said for our roads too if we persist in just funding patchwork jobs rather than full scale road resurfacing.

“Cycling UK’s research has shown the true cost is a human one as people cycling are suffering from personal injury and in the worst cases even dying. The Government should concentrate on fixing the underlying problems of our current local roads network before building new ones. Councils need enough funding to adopt long-term plans for roads maintenance, as repairing streets only as they become dangerous can only ever be a short-term solution.”

Reid Anderson of cycling group Calderdale CTC said: “Obviously the funding for pothole repair announced by the Government is welcome, but it has to be set against the general reductions for routine highway maintenance that have occurred in recent years.

“There was a similar “pothole fund” in 2014 and Calderdale got nearly a miillion pounds that time around.

“Of all road users, cyclists are disproportionately affected by potholes. If a motorist hits a pothole it is an inconvenience; if a cyclist hits a pothole there is a good chance they will end up in A and E or worse.

“Calderdale Council has a very good reporting system for potholes and we encourage local cyclists to use it; our parent organisation, Cycling UK has been running a “Fill that Hole” campaign for years and there is no sign that it is a problem that is going away any time soon.

“Calderdale Council ‘s Transport Strategy says the key challenge Calderdale faces is to increase the number of trips made by public transport, walking and cycling, but cycling trips will only increase with a suitable and well maintained highway network”