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Extra Funds for Pothole Repairs Will Mean ‘Very Little’ for Surrey’s Roads, Says County Councillor

Deep, flooded potholes at the edge of roads, like this one on Warwicks Bench Road, are a peril for cyclists

By Will Parsons

Surrey County Council (SCC) is set to receive an estimated extra £1.8 million for road repairs, of £100 million pledged by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to help local authorities maintain their roads after this winter’s bad weather.

But one local county councillor said that the extra money will mean “very little” for Surrey which has the highest number of unfixed reported potholes of all counties in the UK.

Giving his reasons for ordering the additional funding, Chris Grayling said: “We have seen an unusually prolonged spell of freezing weather which has caused damage to our local roads.

“We are giving councils even more funding to help repair their roads so all road users can enjoy their journeys without having to dodge potholes.”

The surfaces of many residential streets are pitted and worn. Taken at Church Road, off Woodbridge Road

SCC already receives around £25 million per year from the Department for Transport for non-routine repairs, and recently announced a £5 million repair fund to help patch Surrey’s roads after rain and cold weather worsened the condition of the county’s roads.

County Councillor Keith Witham (Worplesdon, Guildford) said of Mr Grayling’s announcement: “I believe that Surrey’s share of the extra £100 million nationally will be around £2 million, and as the saying goes “every little helps”, as it will be in addition to the extra £5 million that SCC recently borrowed to repair the winter road damage, and is also on top of the millions that SCC already spends each year on routine road repairs.”

Lawn Road, which leads off Portsmouth Road to Guildford Borough Council’s offices, has been patched and repatched over recent years but still more potholes appear. The road was thought to have been scheduled for resurfacing several years ago but budget cuts are believed to have resulted in delays.

Some parts of Guildford’s busiest roads, like North Street and Woodbridge Road, remain in a state of disrepair. Potholes can damage cars, costing hundreds of pounds in repairs and proving a financial burden for the county council. In the period 2012-2016, SCC paid out £1.2million in pothole claims, more than any other local authority.

Potholes are also a hazard for Guildford’s cyclists, as they can cause serious injury and have been known to knock riders into the path of motor vehicles. Cyclist and MP for Guildford, Anne Milton, once dubbed North Street “an obstacle course” for bike riders.

Jo Allerton, from Jacobs Well, said: “The state of some of the roads around Guildford is very bad. I cycle on roads in the town almost daily, and I feel like I constantly have to dodge potholes on the side of the road.

“I don’t think £2 million for Surrey, or whatever amount that is for Guildford, sounds like that much.”

County Councillor David Goodwin (Lib Dem, Guildford South West) concurred, saying that the “headline catching” announcement represented a small amount of money for local authorities that would not be effective.

He said: “You have to divide that £100 million among the county councils. That’s not including unitary authorities which would make more. Then of course when you get to the level of the county council, that, in the case of Surrey, has to be divided by 11 boroughs.

“That amount of money doesn’t buy much tarmac. It’s not that much money at all. It is very important [that roads are maintained], bearing in mind that nearly everyone has to use the roads. The state of Guildford’s roads and highways affects absolutely everyone.”

When asked what effect the extra funds might have for Guildford’s roads, he said: “Very little.”

Cllr Witham noted that, because government funding for councils’ road maintenance is based on the number of miles of road, the funding given does not take account of road usage.

He said: “Surrey has amongst the most heavily used roads in the UK and needs more than other areas  just to repair normal wear and tear each year.”

Cllr Witham added that he has urged that Stoughton Road, a road notorious for its potholes, be resurfaced; but that the cost of resurfacing means longer roads have to be divided into sections and resurfaced over several years.

Some of Guildford’s quieter residential streets are in a poor state, too.

Cllr Goodwin noted: “Woodbridge Road is in a bad state, but also side residential roads. Some of the residential roads haven’t been resurfaced in probably 20 or 30 years.

“The issue is that funding has been cut back and back over the past 10 years, almost.”

According to pothole reporting site “Fix That Hole”, Surrey currently has the highest number of unfixed reported potholes of all counties in the UK, at 7,015 – nearly double that of Hampshire, which comes in second at 3,530.

This pothole in Shalford was patched by a frustrated resident. Not advised, says councillor.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS is aware of at least one exasperated resident who took matters into their own hands and filled a pothole themselves (see photo). However, Cllr Goodwin warned against this practice, as vigilante pothole fillers could be liable for any accidents involving the eroded road surface.

Potholes can be reported on the Surrey County Council website here: https://www9.surreycc.gov.uk/highwayproblem/LocateProblem.aspx?GISDefectTypeId=8

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One Response to Extra Funds for Pothole Repairs Will Mean ‘Very Little’ for Surrey’s Roads, Says County Councillor

  1. Angela Goodwin Reply

    March 28, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    By way of information, Stoughton Road has been mentioned in this article by Cllr Witham and falls within my county division, Stoughton and Stoke.

    Residents and local councillors have been campaigning for this to be resurfaced for many years (from the traffic light junction at Manor and Grange Roads down to the bridge) and ten days ago I received confirmation that this was going to be resurfaced on 9th April 2018 to tie in with the Easter holidays. This section of road will also have its drains and gullies jetted and road markings refreshed in and around the near vicinity.

    Angela Goodwin is the Lib Dem county councillor for Guildford North

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