Plymouth City Council to spend £20million fixing potholes
PLYMOUTH'S roads are to get a £20million injection of cash to end the misery of potholes.
The city council will find an extra £2million a year for the next ten years to resurface the city's road network.
The cash – which comes after a long campaign by The Herald's Pothole Pete – will at least double the amount spent on roads and pavements.
Next year's tranche of £2million will include an estimated £150,000 in fines paid by motorists caught driving in bus lanes, Cllr Mark Coker, the city's Cabinet member for transport, told a meeting of the full city council yesterday.
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Earlier this month The Herald revealed new figures that showed drivers who stray into bus lanes have been fined more than £850,000 in the last six months.
The plan to boost road spending won qualified approval from both sides of the council chamber during a debate on next year's £212million city budget yesterday.
Cllr Mark Lowry, the city Cabinet member for finance, told The Herald he was committed to finding the additional money.
"The condition of the roads cannot be ignored. If we are a city with aspirations we need to send out the right message."
"The Conservatives managed to find £48million to build the Life Centre, so we will find the money to invest in our roads."
He said it would at least double the investment in the road network and help to create jobs.
"However, I am sorry to say that one individual will have to start planning for a career change or early retirement. There won't be a job for The Herald's Pothole Pete."
Cllr Ian Bowyer (Con, Eggbuckland), the Conservative finance spokesman, welcomed the investment during the council debate.
But he said: "£2million a year isn't going to buy a lot of work to cover up the problems we have.
"The last Conservative administration spent an additional £3million on the roads last year. It doesn't go a long way."
Cllr Steve Ricketts (Con, Drake) said roads "disaster zones" like Central Park Avenue and Ford Park Road were falling apart and it was vital to manage the spending properly.
"Up to now all we have seen is extra roundabouts appearing and new street furniture."
Cllr Mike Fox (Lab, Moor View) welcomed the contribution that would come from "law-breakers" through the use of bus lane fines.
Cllr Tina Tuohy (Lab, Ham) said Ham Drive was "in an appalling state. You've got a mess of potholes, lumps and bumps which is very damaging."
Cllr Michael Leaves (Con, Plymstock Radford) said roads should be repaired on merit.
Cllr Jon Taylor (Lab, Budshead) said: "Damaged roads are costing business big money.
"Residents, like me, don't understand why the council isn't investing in bringing the roads up to scratch."
Cllr Ian Tuffin (Lab, St Peter and the Waterfront) said: "People find it difficult to understand why we do temporary repairs."
Councillors voted unanimously to approve the increase in roads spending.
The £2million for 2013/14 will come from capital receipts; the New Homes Bonus, bus lane enforcement and a VAT refund.
In December the Government announced that Plymouth would get £585,000 from a £215million fund for highway maintenance over the next two years.
PLYMOUTH SPENT £1MILLION FIXING POT HOLES LAST YEAR
THE city council spent more than £1 million repairing almost 9,000 potholes in eight months last year.
New figures show council workers fixed a total of 8,884 road defects between April and December – costing taxpayers a whopping £1,072,758, or £121 per pothole.
The data, released to The Herald under the Freedom of Information Act, also shows concerned residents reported a total of 1,264 potholes to the council in the final two-thirds of 2012.
And in the first ten days of 2013 there were 268 complaints – as many as in the whole of the previous month and more than in any of the previous eight months.
These figures are likely to be lower than the true number, as the council declined to provide data for the period between May 1 and July 15 last year when its customer relation management system was being upgraded.
A council spokeswoman said: “Plymouth City Council, like all authorities across the country, is doing its best to tackle the growing problem of potholes following some of the coldest and wettest winters on record.
“The council recognises this is a significant issue for the city and for people using the city’s road network and has been looking at all options to make extra resources available in a very tight fiscal climate.
“While the Government announced an extra £215 million for road repairs in December, councils are facing a half-a-billion-pound cut to their highways maintenance funding between 2011 and 2015.”
She added: “There is still a long way to go and councils need increased and consistent funding to invest in the widespread resurfacing projects that the country’s road network desperately needs.”
The data shows where the most pothole complaints came from between July last year and January this year. Efford and Lipson top the list with 74 reports, ahead of Compton (71), St Peter and The Waterfront (67) and Plymstock Radford (64).
The council paid out a total of £12,898 to drivers for insurance claims relating to road defects between April 2012 and January 2013.
Car insurance claims for pothole-related damage on Britain’s roads more than doubled in January compared to the same month last year, according to the AA.
Over four weeks, an estimated 1,000 cars in the UK were seriously damaged by potholes.
According to a study of nearly 23,000 AA members, a third said that they had suffered some damage to their vehicle caused by a pothole.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance said “Pothole damage is bad enough, but those making insurance claims are saying that there has been serious damage to suspension, steering and bodywork as well.
“In some cases, the driver has lost control or swerved to try to avoid the pothole and hit something else.”
Potholes repaired by the council from April 1 to December 31, 2012: 8,883
Total cost to the council of fixing potholes from April to December 2012: £1,072,758
Total cost in previous years:
Complaints about potholes from April to December (excluding May 1 to July 15): 1,264
Complaints in final quarter of 2012:
Complaints January 1 to 10, 2013: 268