Quality checks needed to prevent pothole repairs ‘falling to bits within weeks’

An additional £12 million is being made available to improve highways maintenance.

But extra money will still be at the levels seen a decade before.

Essex County Council had budgeted £99m in 2024 before the announcement at the budget meeting on February 13 compared to £117m in 2014.

Labour councillor Dave Harris added that quality checks were needed on repairs already carried out – reporting from residents how a repair to a pothole made in December “fell to bits within a few weeks”.

He said there were 1,155 claims of damages in 2019 which rose to 1,663 in 2023. However, he added that the value of agreed claims against the council total fell from more than £28,000 in 2020 to £14,000 in 2023.

Councillor Harris said: “If you can’t fund more repairs at least you can check the quality. This motion calls for quality sampling by professionals.”

Councillor Tom Cunningham, cabinet member for highways, said the extra £12m represented a “massive commitment” to the county.

More than £8m is committed to securing additional crews to work on member-led priorities.

Cllr Cunningham said Essex County Council was giving more say to members through this “unique scheme” which will be a “significant change, but one we believe members will relish.”

A total of £2 million is being made available to deliver larger schemes, with guidance from a chairman’s advisory panel.

The council says this should free up existing local highways budgets to deliver on smaller, sort after schemes and enable larger more complex schemes.

More than £350,000 will fund a three-month blitz over summer months to repair a large number of defects in rural roads caused by the flooding and winter conditions.

Over £300,000 for winter make safe crews next winter, between January and March 2025.

Another £49,500 is being committed for an additional highways communications resource to communicate better with residents.

Over £100,000 is being made for additional enforcement resources, ensuring landowners are accountable for cutting back their foliage, and over £700,000 for additional highways resurfacing.

Cllr Cunningham said: “In difficult times with many demands on the public purse, this is a massive commitment, and it’s a tribute to sound financial conservative management over a period of years. We are determined to make this investment count for our residents in this great county and we look forward to cracking on.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter