Potholes and other road issues

Potholes and other road-related issues are high up my list of priorities at the moment, as residents often contact me about them. I have to admit I’m rather frustrated that we still don’t have a Balfour Beatty (BBLP) locality steward for the ward – I’ve got an ever-growing list of issues to take up with the new person as soon as s/he is in post, which BBLP assure me will be in mid-February. In fact, wouldn’t it be simpler all round if it was Council staff doing the work, rather than it being outsourced to BBLP? The collapse of Carillion has sparked a long-overdue debate about the pros and cons of contracting out; personally I’d much prefer the Council to be running its own highways services in-house, as I’m sure the extra layers of management and contract supervision mean that contracted-out highways services are more expensive and less responsive…

Anyway. One very practical and useful thing that we can all do is report potholes and other roads issues to the Council via this web page (which also shows you if it has already been reported). You can also use this pothole and road defect progress map to see which issues are currently being addressed. So please, if you notice a pothole, help us all out and report it online – and I’ll make it my business to chase BBLP up. Thank you!

Highways – resurfacing woes, and safety improvements

I met the Head of Highways, Clive Hall, last Friday, which was very helpful. One of the things we talked about was learning lessons from the A4103 resurfacing road closures in autumn 2017. Clive explained some of the background (including the delays due to the unexpected General Election purdah period), and I made two main points:
1) Communication: This simply wasn’t good enough. There wasn’t enough consultation with residents in affected wards, and there wasn’t adequate real-time information available to travellers, neither online nor on the ground. Disruption was worse as a result.
2) Compensation: Individuals shouldn’t have to bear disproportionate costs for improvements that are for public benefit. Many business owners along the road suffered very significant financial losses during the closure, and haven’t had adequate compensation. Future compensation schemes need to be much better designed.

The stretch of A4103 from Newtown Cross to Hereford is also due for resurfacing later this year, and the council are currently consulting with affected people. Amazingly, they weren’t planning to consult with our ward! I made a very clear request that we should be consulted, as road closure in the Hereford direction will obviously have knock-on effects on the same businesses that already suffered last autumn. I’ll post that info separately. I very much hope that lessons will be learned from last year’s debacle, and that this year’s work will be much better organised.

Finally on roads, I met the council’s senior road safety investigator at Stoney Cross on Tuesday to discuss the planned works on the junction there. This has reached the top of the priority list due to a cluster of accidents in recent years, and so the planned works will straighten the road somewhat, prevent overtaking at the junction, and improve the camber. I’m glad to see that Cradley is getting this investment to improve safety at this junction; and I’m also glad that the works will be done with traffic lights and convoys, i.e. there will be no full road closure.

You can check on planned roadworks using this map: https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/…/2001…/roads/234/roadworks

Fix it first!

Roads in Hereford are full of potholes and getting worse. It’s partly because the Council spend money in the wrong places, says local Green campaigner Rob Hattersley.

‘We estimate the Council have spent up to £3million just on surveys for a bypass’, said Rob, who lives in Bartonsham. ‘Yet they can’t even find money to fill in the holes. Potholes damage cars and cost drivers, but they also make it very hazardous for cyclists who can be injured, or forced to swerve.

Research shows that 85% of Hereford’s traffic is internal. A bypass would come with more housing, so it is likely to make traffic worse, not better. But safer streets for cyclists and pedestrians would give us more travel choices, reduce congestion and air pollution and improve things quickly, especially for our kids.

Rob says : ‘We should fix it first. We certainly shouldn’t be thinking of an expensive bypass to the east, bringing heavy lorries through Tupsley and Central Ward, as some local councillors have suggested. Even a ten percent reduction in traffic similar to what we see in the school holidays would make a huge difference – and faster.’

Potholes can be reported on 01432 261800 or at www.fillthathole.org.uk