Potholes in South Gloucestershire are getting “a little bit worse each year” according to council chiefs, due to a lack of funding. The problems get worse through the winter when extra staff are hired to meet the rising demand from bad weather.
South Gloucestershire Council would resurface roads “in an ideal world”, but one new cabinet member said that the government does not pay councils enough money to keep all the roads across the district in good condition.
The problems are particularly affecting unclassified roads, councillors heard during a meeting of the scrutiny commission at South Gloucestershire Council on Wednesday, July 26.
Mark King, head of transport and waste services at the council, said: “We struggle like a lot of other local authorities in the country to maintain our network to a reasonable level. Because we have a declining network, and mainly on our unclassified network, we do suffer with potholes and defects.
“Over the winter is bad obviously, from October through to February that’s when we have our peak period. We have to supplement the gangs and we have additional gangs on site to keep the network safe, and that’s what we aim to do. In an ideal world, we would resurface those roads and they would be more robust and resilient, but unfortunately we’re not in that situation and it’s a bit of a firefighting exercise.”
Until May this year the council was run by a Conservative administration. But after local elections, a new cabinet has taken power with a coalition of Liberal Democrats and Labour councillors.
Labour Councillor Leigh Ingham, cabinet member for communities and local place, said: “The pothole situation is a symptom of decades of underinvestment by governments across the local road network, which has become particularly acute in the last 13 years. We only spend about a third of what we should be spending to maintain at a standstill the quality of roads we have at the moment.
“But things are getting a little bit worse each year. We do the best we can with what we have available, but to make sure that we’re ready in terms of the climate emergency, development, economic growth and air quality, we need long-term national investment plans to make this work for all areas around the UK, not just South Gloucestershire.”
By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service