Pothole warning from council chief as highways budget faces £1.2m cut

Potholes will become more common as road surfaces deteriorate when maintenance is reduced, a Bridgend council chief has warned.

These are the likely consequences from a reduced work programme when an estimated £1.2m of savings are made from the highways budget.

The authority must save a total of £50m over the next few years.

Cuts in Government funding mean Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) must shave the money off what it normally spends on maintaining roads by 2017.

Consultants hired by the authority to analyse where these savings could be made said that as well as energy-efficient LED lighting and the management of vacancies, Bridgend council will also have to reduce maintenance regimes, including the review of winter provisions.

This could achieve savings of £300,000 next year and £900,000 in 2016/17 Mark Shephard, BCBC’s head of communities will tell councillors on Monday.

In a report due to be considered by the community renewal and environment overview and scrutiny committee, Mr Shephard states that coupled with the end of a local government borrowing initiative (LGBI) – which has seen around £6m spent on improving aging infrastructure – cuts in maintenance will lead to road surfaces deteriorating.

“The cessation of the LGBI investment programme linked with potential budget reductions is likely to result in a deteriorating highway network, which could be subject to an increased level of ad hoc repair/patching on a risk basis,” states Mr Shephard in the report.

“It is recognised that elected Members often raise concerns in relation to potholes on streets, which is a symptom of the underlying road condition, and it is considered that with a reduction in resources the occurrence of issues on the highway may increase, negatively affecting both ride comfort and skid resistance.”

Porthcawl Mayor Sean Aspey said following 18 months of complaints, potholes on Park Avenue, Porthcawl, have been repaired this week. He said Victoria Avenue has also seen resurfacing work after many complaints and he believes budget cuts will make the situation worse.

“But safety on the roads must be of paramount importance both for the pedestrian and highway user,” he added.

A BCBC spokesman said: “All council departments are faced with making budget savings, including our highways section. A range of measures are currently being considered for how this saving will be achieved.

“With such significant budget cuts needing to be made it is inevitable that there will be some reductions in service, however no decisions have yet been taken.

“This report details a number of options for savings and outlines the potential effects that those proposals may have.”

Article source: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/pothole-warning-council-chief-highways-8018204