Roads satisfaction falls yet again - despite more efforts to get rid of potholes

A big pothole

A big pothole

First published in News Evesham Journal: Tom Edwards Exclusive by , Political Reporter

SATISFACTION with Worcestershire's roads has plunged - with drivers saying they are increasingly fed up with potholes, cracks, divots and poor road markings.

A major survey has taken place revealing just 31 per cent of people are satisfied with county roads, compared to 42 per cent in 2011.

Worcestershire County Council has insisted it is "perplexed" by the findings, and say the unhappiness comes despite record investment and fewer defects than ever before.

A survey of more than 2,200 people, selected deliberately to get a cross-section of householders, shows 51 per cent are 'very' or 'fairly' dissatisfied with the roads.

The overall satisfaction rate, which stands at 31 per cent, is four per cent lower than even last year - a drop the council has called "statistically significant".

The council says it does rigorous testing of road conditions and not only are defects drastically reduced, record numbers of potholes are being filled in.

There is also no longer a waiting list for roads to be repaired, due to extra resources being put into the system.

Following the findings the council has promised to look at ways of making people happier, including revisiting road markings and signage.

Peter Blake, head of integrated transport, said: "The network is getting better, we're having less potholes but satisfaction is going down.

"There is no single answer to this, we will look at areas like road markings and signage and try a number of different initiatives over the coming months."

The findings were debated during a meeting of the economy, environment and communities scrutiny panel at County Hall.

Councillor Ken Pollock, the chairman, said: "We seem to have suffered a catastrophic drop in satisfaction, but it doesn't seem to be based on reality.

"You might say 'it's an irrational response' but these people are council tax payers, we want to keep them happy."

Mr Blake said: "Roads are getting better, we've got less potholes year-on-year but people were happier three years ago when they were worse - we need to understand why."

The findings emerged in the yearly Worcestershire Viewpoint survey, which went to 6,000 people.

On top of that, to understand people's views on the roads better the council commissioned research with six focus groups containing 51 people in total.

The main factors they cited as influences were potholes, road markings, road signs, poor quality repairs and surfacing.

Last year 27,000 defects on the county's 2,257miles of road were repaired, and 6,000 potholes have been filled in since January.

FURY OVER ROADWORKS

FURIOUS councillors say "sloppy" and "disgraceful" roadworks are making the situation worse - and have hit out over workers abandoning projects for days on end.

During the panel meeting, bosses at Severn Trent and the county council's transport team were grilled about endless utility firm dig-ups around Worcestershire.

Councillors hit out over too many roadworks projects starting, then seemingly stopping for days on end without anyone being on site.

During the debate it emerged that Severn Trent plans to install signs whenever schemes are abandoned to let drivers know why no work is taking place.

Councillor John Smith, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "The problem I've got is, all these utility companies seem the same.

"Often, the traffic management (lights) goes up, for three days nothing happens, then work starts, then it finishes and the lights stay up another three days - I personally haven't seen any improvements."

Councillor Alan Amos said: "Nothing infuriates people more than when cones get put down and nothing happens.

"It's disgraceful. I don't see why you can't say 'work must start within 12 hours of the cones going down', because it doesn't seem to happen now and it annoys people intensely.

"Why do they go up for such a long time in advance and then stay there for so long afterwards."

Anita Solanki, from Severn Trent, said: "There is a perception the lights are there when people are doing nothing, but often there are many reasons for it.

"It could be because we have to wait for tarmac to cure, or we could be waiting for extra materials.

"We are planning to now put signs up to tell people why workers are not at a site, so drivers know what's going on."

She said roadworks which cause gridlock "should not happen" but also revealed workers sometimes temporarily abandon sites because they are called away to other urgent projects on odd days.

She also said many third party contractors struggle to tie in tasks like placing cones and lights down, and simultaneously starting the actual work.

"The type of disruption we know people can get annoyed about has reduced, there's been a lot less of those type of incidents," she said.

Councillor Ken Pollock said: "For good PR, if anything else, you need to manage this.

"The kind of sloppiness Alan (Amos) is talking about isn't acceptable in industry, where the concept of 'just in time' is so important."

The most notorious recent example was January's £180,000 Severn Trent scheme to lay new pipes in St Peter's, Worcester.

More than a mile of tailbacks stretched towards the Sidbury junction and the Cathedral roundabout on the first day lights were placed along the A38, despite no work taking place

Comments (6)

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9:57am Mon 31 Mar 14

gbuilder75 says...

So people want the roads to be fixed but they don't want roadworks. Typical. Let me guess, they also don't want to pay for it.
So people want the roads to be fixed but they don't want roadworks. Typical. Let me guess, they also don't want to pay for it. gbuilder75
  • Score: 6

10:46am Mon 31 Mar 14

uptonX says...

The issue is simply the arrogance and incompetence of Worcestershire Highways. The roadworks when there is no work being done is a big part of it but there is much more, poor quality work that has to be done again, road surfaces that were OK being made dangerous with surface dressing (a process popular in Worcestershire but abandoned in most of the rest of the UK) and they still don't get it - the very last thing we need is more signs so they can tell us what a "great job" they do.
Here on the border we see a huge difference with Gloucestershire highways. When the road near Morrisons Tewkesbury was flooded last month the Highways arranged for pumps in the drains to keep the water level down and the roads open. In Upton Worcestershire Highways just put metal barriers across as soon as the road is damp and they aren't quick to remove them when the water has gone. Worcestershire Highways it seems is all about power and politics rather than doing the job the council tax payers pay them to do,
The issue is simply the arrogance and incompetence of Worcestershire Highways. The roadworks when there is no work being done is a big part of it but there is much more, poor quality work that has to be done again, road surfaces that were OK being made dangerous with surface dressing (a process popular in Worcestershire but abandoned in most of the rest of the UK) and they still don't get it - the very last thing we need is more signs so they can tell us what a "great job" they do. Here on the border we see a huge difference with Gloucestershire highways. When the road near Morrisons Tewkesbury was flooded last month the Highways arranged for pumps in the drains to keep the water level down and the roads open. In Upton Worcestershire Highways just put metal barriers across as soon as the road is damp and they aren't quick to remove them when the water has gone. Worcestershire Highways it seems is all about power and politics rather than doing the job the council tax payers pay them to do, uptonX
  • Score: -2

10:51am Mon 31 Mar 14

brooksider says...

Utilities are obliged by law to give the Council advanced notice of roadworks.
The Council can also fine the utilities if the roadworks over run.
I wonder if they bother?
Utilities are obliged by law to give the Council advanced notice of roadworks. The Council can also fine the utilities if the roadworks over run. I wonder if they bother? brooksider
  • Score: -2

1:07pm Mon 31 Mar 14

saucerer says...

uptonX is spot on with their comments.

We all appreciate that utility companies need to access their equipment, and that their equipment needs to be replaced or repaired, meaning the road needs to be dug up. But the problem is not with the utility companies, but with the highways department. If the so called highway experts at County Hall could manage and co-ordinate road works better there'd be less of a problem, while if they could actually be bothered to fine companies whose works overrun, which highways are able to do, the impact of roadworks would be lessened too. And if highways demanded that the replacement road surface which is put back by the utility companies is of even half decent standard, things wouldn't be so bad.

And as for the works carried out by the highways department, if they repaired potholes properly instead of just shoving in loose tarmac and rolling it with the back wheels of their van, there'd be less need to return to the same location within weeks to carry out the same repair time and time again. And if a road is in a poor state or is littered with cracks, ruts, potholes etc, then resurface the road with a new layer of decent, durable tarmac rather than just keep filling in the potholes time and time again. This will then prevent potholes from developing as frequently as they do now. And it would help if they stopped surface dressing as this is proven to be totally ineffective, and as well as it being a total waste of money, the tar and chippings causes all sorts of problems including reducing road safety. Proper resurfacing only costs a fraction more than surface dressing but lasts years longer, therefore the long term costs are reduced, especially as surface dressing fails within months.

All other counties seem to manage and repair the roads properly. Just look at our neighbours in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Warwickshire and Shropshire. They all do a far better job than Worcestershire as well as waste less money. While these other counties have highways departments who seem to know what they're doing, Worcestershire's is staffed by overpaid, underworked, incompetent and, frankly, clueless people who have the gall to call themselves highway engineers. If we can see the problems, why can't the highways department?
uptonX is spot on with their comments. We all appreciate that utility companies need to access their equipment, and that their equipment needs to be replaced or repaired, meaning the road needs to be dug up. But the problem is not with the utility companies, but with the highways department. If the so called highway experts at County Hall could manage and co-ordinate road works better there'd be less of a problem, while if they could actually be bothered to fine companies whose works overrun, which highways are able to do, the impact of roadworks would be lessened too. And if highways demanded that the replacement road surface which is put back by the utility companies is of even half decent standard, things wouldn't be so bad. And as for the works carried out by the highways department, if they repaired potholes properly instead of just shoving in loose tarmac and rolling it with the back wheels of their van, there'd be less need to return to the same location within weeks to carry out the same repair time and time again. And if a road is in a poor state or is littered with cracks, ruts, potholes etc, then resurface the road with a new layer of decent, durable tarmac rather than just keep filling in the potholes time and time again. This will then prevent potholes from developing as frequently as they do now. And it would help if they stopped surface dressing as this is proven to be totally ineffective, and as well as it being a total waste of money, the tar and chippings causes all sorts of problems including reducing road safety. Proper resurfacing only costs a fraction more than surface dressing but lasts years longer, therefore the long term costs are reduced, especially as surface dressing fails within months. All other counties seem to manage and repair the roads properly. Just look at our neighbours in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Warwickshire and Shropshire. They all do a far better job than Worcestershire as well as waste less money. While these other counties have highways departments who seem to know what they're doing, Worcestershire's is staffed by overpaid, underworked, incompetent and, frankly, clueless people who have the gall to call themselves highway engineers. If we can see the problems, why can't the highways department? saucerer
  • Score: -1

1:12pm Mon 31 Mar 14

saucerer says...

There is a Facebook page regarding the performance of Worcestershire county council's highways department. Its appears to be a place where people can comment as well as give their opinion on whether they do a good or bad job. The page can be found at:

www.facebook.com/pag
es/Worcestershire-Co
unty-Council-highway
s-department-good-or
-bad/248539585331808
?fref=ts

As the county council have their own Facebook page, I assume they'd be able to see this one, so they can see what people really think of the highways department. I'd encourage people to have a look and leave comments, I certainly will.
There is a Facebook page regarding the performance of Worcestershire county council's highways department. Its appears to be a place where people can comment as well as give their opinion on whether they do a good or bad job. The page can be found at: www.facebook.com/pag es/Worcestershire-Co unty-Council-highway s-department-good-or -bad/248539585331808 ?fref=ts As the county council have their own Facebook page, I assume they'd be able to see this one, so they can see what people really think of the highways department. I'd encourage people to have a look and leave comments, I certainly will. saucerer
  • Score: -2

5:39pm Mon 31 Mar 14

fightforfort says...

Credit where credit is due. I saw the story in Worcester News saying the Council was sorting potholes. On Monday I reported online five potholes in a short stretch of road in Battenhall. The Highways people turned up on Wednesday and sprayed the offending holes in bright orange paint. They then turned up in force on the Thursday and fixed all the holes. Job's a goodun. Thank you for making the road safe for my two small children and thank you for making it so easy to make good online.
Credit where credit is due. I saw the story in Worcester News saying the Council was sorting potholes. On Monday I reported online five potholes in a short stretch of road in Battenhall. The Highways people turned up on Wednesday and sprayed the offending holes in bright orange paint. They then turned up in force on the Thursday and fixed all the holes. Job's a goodun. Thank you for making the road safe for my two small children and thank you for making it so easy to make good online. fightforfort
  • Score: 6

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