Pot holes

Background 

By Colin Kemp - Cabinet Member for Highways

There have been many emails and comments on social media about the current pot hole issue and I wanted to give you some feedback on the issues that have been raised.

Firstly to help you understand the size of the issue.

              The average amount of pot holes reported over the last few years are

               February 3516, March 3851

               The figure for the same months this year are

               February 6524, March 8377

So you can see the size of the issue we are dealing with and this is the worst it has been since the floods in 2013. We have also taken the decision to postpone some non-essential work to divert resource to identify and repair some of our roads.

Alongside that, Kier have drafted in additional resources, so where they would normally have between 8-12 crews out repairing our network there are currently 25 crews. But even with all that extra resource on the network the challenges remain. However, the weather is forecast to improve so we should start to see an improvement over the next few weeks.

Two of the biggest issues raised by our residents are:

  1. Why are we just doing temporary repairs and then coming back to repair the road later?
  2. Why did we just address one big hole and leave the other defects?

As you can imagine this is a major task. All defects are prioritised from P1 to P4, with P1 being an emergency response, and we also have criteria built into the contract to manage the time scales which must react to the different criteria. Due to the amount of defects arising for P2’s (which must be acted upon within a few days) they are doing more temporary repairs to enable them to cover more ground and then they will return at a future date to complete the repair. This does not cost the county any more money, this is an operation decision which allows the risk to be managed and enables Kier to meet the response criteria.

The same issue arises when dealing with multiple defects at one site. For example, a crew dealing with P2s can do approximately 15 reported defects per day, so if the defect on a particular road is say, number 12 on the list it will be done today, but if the crew stop and repair all the defects at all the locations along the way and also do additional inspections of other areas of the same road, they will not get to the reported defect for around a further three days. Therefore, they will only repair the main defect. Again this is an operational decision to manage risk and does not cost the county any additional money.

The important thing to remember is the clock does not start ticking until a defect has been reported and with over 3000 miles of network to monitor any help is gratefully received, so when it is safe to please do report any defects you see.

The truth of the situation is, our roads have been underfunded for many years, and in the past Surrey County Council has topped up this budget to maintain our roads. With the increasing pressure on county council funding this is no longer possible and we are managing a deteriorating network and this winter has made the problem worse in a short space of time.

Any funding for roads is based on the length of the roads within the county and this was evident in the recent Pot Hole fund announcement from the government. This saw Surrey get an £1.8m where Hampshire received £2.9m and the tranquil roads in Devon get £4.4m.

Yet Surrey has one of the busiest networks outside of London and as common sense tells us the busiest roads are going to wear out more quickly.

We will continue to campaign for fairer funding and continue to ask the government to make traffic volumes part of the calculation when funding roads.

All Surrey’s MP’s have been provided with written evidence by the Leader to substantiate the calls for fairer funding and we welcome any local support on this campaign.

In the meantime work has already started to address the worse effected roads with the additional £5m announced last month by the Leader and although this will not fix all the roads, Members and the local highways teams will continue to identify local priorities.

Colin Kemp

Cabinet Member for Highways