Monday, 26 January 2015

Pothole news

With budget proposals to cut nearly £3.3m from highway maintenance over the next three years, the state of Carmarthenshire's roads is likely to get worse. As far as the Welsh Government are concerned, the cost to bring back our roads to perfect condition, the 'zero defects backlog value' as it is known, is £17.47m. The council, by comparison, has a probably more realistic figure of £54m.

A recent scrutiny committee looked at the figures presented in a report. Amongst the reasons for this huge difference is that the WG figures were collated in 2009 and used a different method of testing and sampling.

The WG review of backlog figures has been put on hold and the committee wondered whether in fact it "did not wish to acknowledge the true state of the Welsh highway network and its lack of financial support for local authorities sufficient funding". The committee agreed that the WG should be lobbied to restart their review and address the lack of funding for road repairs.

So concerned were the committee with regards to the authority's own budget plans in relation to road defects they decided they needed a seminar in corporate manslaughter. This was agreed and it was also decided that all members would benefit from such a seminar and not just in relation to road conditions....

Coincidentally the RAC published results today from Freedom of Information requests across England and Wales for figures relating to claims made against local authorities for damage to cars from poorly maintained roads. The total bill is around £3.2m. The figures for Wales show that in Carmarthenshire, out of 39 claims made in 2013/14 only one was successful, costing £89.

One reason for the low figure is not that our roads are perfect, far from it (despite the best efforts of the road repair crews, who's numbers will further diminish in the planned cuts), it's that very few drivers actually bother to make an insurance claim against the council for such damage.

The other reason for this low figure, revealed in the scrutiny minutes, is that the current internal code of practice ("vetted by a QC") makes it difficult for motorists to bring claims and the success rate for deflecting all claims so far is currently 75%.
However, Carmarthenshire is not alone with such an approach and across the UK only 23% of all claims were approved.

The RAC suggests that these figures are the tip of the iceberg and central government should think twice about funding projects such as the HS2 scheme whilst the UK road infrastructure crumbles away.
As for the Welsh Government, the plans and feasibility studies for the proposed M4 relief road had cost over £15m by 2009, goodness only knows what the costs have reached now, with still not an inch of tarmac laid.

In Carmarthenshire, with its £54m backlog and £3.3m cuts to highways, the council has just put in several planning applications for 'Gateway displays' on the various highway approaches to Llanelli. These involve ornate stone structures, floral displays and decorative signage. The total cost of the projects, and ongoing maintenance, is unknown but likely to be a considerable sum.

Still at least they'll look nice as we negotiate our way round the worsening potholes....


Teifion said...

I've been driving between Pembrokeshire and Newtown on a regular basis for years. There have been 2 or 3 "road works" on the A40 and A483 around LLandovery that have been there as long as I've been driving.
You'll recognise them by the sign - lane closed for your safety - the truth is they jusy have no money to repair a main trunk road linking the south west and north east wales. I wrote to the minister concerned, they could only do something when money was allocated - since then I've noticed the lights have been moved 2 or 3 yards - wonder if its a way of classifying it as new road works ?

caebrwyn said...

The roadworks on the A40 (Trunk road, so not under council control) between Llandovery and Llanwrda have been there for over two years. In December 2013 a local resident asked the Welsh Government for the cost of the traffic lights - it was £1596 per week. The total cost for the lights up to that date was £70,935. We can double that now.

Anonymous said...

Have you thought of reporting these issues through the website? It's a superb resource, that will accurately record the issue and forward it along to the relevant council - made by the same good people that power

FixMyStreet brings the same kind of transparency and has a helpful reminder system, to update the report once something has been fixed.

In my experience CCC have been very responsive, for example yesterday I reported Fly-Tipping of material at the Pant Y Bryn wind turbine. Within 45 minutes the Customer Service Centre had not only acknowledged, but they'd also taken it on themselves to raise the breach of conditions to the Planning department for them to act quickly.

Teifion said...

I wrote to the minister responsible about these issues, her reply just said they were aware of itand the issues would be dealt with when money in the budget was allocated - to you and me I think that means they don't have enough dosh to keep main roads between south west wales and noth east wales open :(
I'll try your suggestion though, might embaress them a bit more :)