POTHOLES in the Henley area will be filled in as part of a “spring clean” of Oxfordshire’s roads.
The county council has pledged to spend an extra £250,000 — enough to pay for the repair of 4,000 holes — on top of the £5 million spent so far this winter.
The number of highway gangs has been almost doubled from 10 to 19, meaning contractors should fix 3,000 potholes a month during the spring.
The council has also launched a new online service for reporting potholes. Residents will be able to upload images of damaged roads and their locations using a mobile phone or tablet. The council says it expects to repair 36,000 road defects this winter, a third more than in a typical year, following the prolonged cold and wet weather.
Deputy leader Rodney Rose said: “We know that Oxfordshire residents hate to see potholes on our roads and so do we. That’s why, now the winter months are nearly behind us, we’re pulling out the stops to get repairs done as fast as we can, wherever they occur.
“Obviously we still have to prioritise the most serious defects but our new reporting tool also means residents and motorists can expect us to get it fixed within 28 days of its inspection, or within 24 hours for the most serious damage.
“We have a good track record on repairing potholes. The vast majority are repaired within 28 days and the most severe ones are sorted within two hours. However, we recognise we can always do better, particularly in rural areas, which is why we are asking residents to report potholes.
“As the warmer and drier months approach, we now have the opportunity to turn the tide and bring roads up to a decent standard ahead of our annual resurfacing work, which starts in the summer.”
Concern has been raised by Henley councillors about the state of roads in the town.
Councillor Pam Phillips called Vicarage Road an “absolute disgrace”.
She added: “A couple of years ago, St Andrew’s Road and St Mark’s Road — two well-known rat runs — were completely resurfaced and after the winters we have had they have remained intact.
“It seems to me a waste of funds to bring in the teams to fill in the holes — why don’t they do the whole road? I think it would be far better to have a planned programme, taking in road by road and resurfacing it.”
Town and county councillor David Nimmo Smith said there was a planned programme of road resurfacing.
He added: “Potholes are a revenue item and are done when they crop up. Digging out the roads is capital and is done two to three years ahead. There is a compromise to be struck.”
Cllr Nimmo Smith said potholes that had not been repaired properly would be refilled and paid for by Atkins, the council’s contractor.
He said: “It is in the contractor’s interest to not carry out poor repairs as it only gets paid once for the work.
“The bad news is that we have had the wrong kind of winter, which has produced far too many potholes in our roads. The good news is that the county council has allocated an additional £250,000 to deal with it — an average of £62.50 per pothole.
“I have already reported a myriad of potholes and they should be in the county council system but this is your chance to keep on reporting.”
David Gobbett, of Elizabeth Road, who has started a one-man campaign against potholes, said: “I am very encouraged by the news and this comes as I received my third letter refusing me compensation after damaging my car in a pothole. I was getting a bit depressed but this is very encouraging and since I appeared in the Henley Standard, half a dozen of the more serious potholes have been filled in.”
The council says that once a reported pothole has been verified by a member of the highways team, the contractor will repair it within 28 days, or 24 hours for emergencies.
Potholes reported to www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/report will automatically be logged for the attention of highways officers. To report a pothole by phone call 0845 310 1111.