Saturday, 18 September 2021

Potholed roads will get worse

ROADS in and around Henley will get worse because there isn’t enough funding to maintain them properly, a councillor has warned.

Kevin Bulmer, who represents Goring on Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, says they are deteriorating faster than defects such as potholes can be repaired.

He told a meeting of Goring Parish Council, which he chairs: “This year’s ‘beast from the east’ cold snap isn’t responsible for the new potholes that people are seeing. It has simply accelerated the growth of holes which would have appeared anyway. The bottom line is that we’re managing a declining network and will never be able to do more than that unless the situation improves.

“In my opinion, the fundamental problem is that the roads are well past their sell-by date.

“You may have heard a figure being bandied around that it would cost £150million to bring Oxfordshire’s roads up to standard, which is true but it’s only half the story. That figure is only to tackle the main carriageways whereas the entire network would be more like £450 to £500million and we don’t have anything even remotely like that. Even if we borrowed some money, the amount we’d get would be so insignificant that it wouldn’t solve anything.”

Cllr Bulmer said one solution might be to give town and parish councils the right to pay a contractor to fix roads within their boundaries, subject to approval by the county council.

The council was also investigating using melted plastic waste to fill potholes. This was currently being trialled in Scotland and on the Continent.

Henley’s county councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said: “It has been a very bad winter so we’ve got potholes crawling out of the woodwork, especially in the past few weeks, and that’s because the roads haven’t been maintained over the past decade.

“I’m feeling pretty optimistic for Henley as we have a very good area steward and potholes that are reported are typically flagged up for repair within three or four days.

“I will also be spending all of my councillor’s grant on potholes as it’s clearly a major concern for residents and that should hopefully buy 20 to 25 days’ worth of repairs.

“The outlook in rural areas isn’t as positive because they have been neglected and it would take a significant amount of money to bring them up to scratch. The only real solution is more money from the Government. We’ve been given an extra £1 million but that’s not a lot to cover the entire county.

“All I can do as county councillor is map out the potholes in Henley and keep up the pressure to fix them.”

• To report a pothole, visit or call 0345 310 1111.

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