We should not have to pay the price for bodged pothole repairs

Letter by: Paddy Bullen, Park Lane, Maplehurst

Thursday, 27th February 2020, 1:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th February 2020, 1:29 pm
Large pothole

Paradoxically this is not about potholes, it’s about WSCC’s determined efforts to waste residents’ hard earned council taxes.

A year or so ago, Park Lane was closed for end-to-end verge repairs. At that time I queried why some were spray painted for repair and others were not.

I was told that those that were not sprayed were not in scope. Now, I fully understand why an isolated pothole may fall in or out of scope but not when a whole lane is closed for repairs.

Whilst this may produce a short-term saving for the council, it is a far more lucrative way of doing business for the contractor.

They simply wait for the ‘not in scope’ minor ones to develop into major ones and get then paid for a return visit.

About a month ago I spoke to a very helpful lady at the Highway Customer Services Team to report four or five ‘ten-day’ verge pot holes and a dangerous ‘five day’ one, all of which were marginal at the time of the lane closure repairs. The number of days being WSCC’s undertaking for a repair to be carried out. She diligently took down the dimensions and exact location of each. A week later Highways left a voice mail confirming they were on the case and a week after that I got a ‘no reply’ email saying the same thing.

This morning,Febraury 12 , a month after reporting the ‘five day’ monster (we could hear cars hitting it from inside our front room) it was ‘repaired’.

I use parenthesis because by no stretch of the imagination would it comply with any repair specification.

The verge pothole was 150mm deep overall (that’s 6” in old money), was over a metre in length and stretched nearly a quarter of the way across the lane. When full of water it was invisible.

The repair, such as it was, comprised shovelling in 5mm aggregate tarmac ( wearing course), tamping it with the back of a shovel, driving back and forth over it a couple of times and threatening it with a can of sealer.

One hour after completion it had already sunk by about 15mm and the edges were exposed to further damage. None of the ‘ten day’ potholes were touched.

If indeed Highways have a spec for such repairs, then at the very least I would expect the levels to be made up with properly compacted coarse aggregate tarmac (regulating course), which is much more stable than the fine aggregate, and then the edges properly sealed.

However, as I said for openers, this is not about potholes but WSCC’s profligate use of our hard earned money.

I quite happily (well almost) pay my council taxes.

What really upsets me is seeing it wasted on paying people not to come to work, unsuccessful contractors being compensated for not being awarded a contract and those that are successful be paid for a proper repair when carrying out a first class bodge.

Multiply this across the Highways network and someone is being paid handsomely out of our money for what can only be temporary fixes leading to further expensive repairs.