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Council is urged not to skimp on pothole repairs after budget cuts
Buy this photo » Taxi driver Colin Dobson with potholes which are appearing in London Road, Oxford, at the junction with Lyndworth Close, near to the Green Road roundabout. Picture: OX56936 Damian Halliwell
THE number of potholes repaired in Oxfordshire has more than trebled in five years.
And experts last night predicted roads across the county would crumble further over the next few weeks due to the recent floods, ice and snow.
It comes just weeks after transport bosses announced plans to cut more than £1m from the road maintenance budget.
In 2008/09, Oxfordshire County Council repaired 8,902 potholes. This has steadily increased year-on-year and now the council expects to have fixed 32,000 potholes by the end of March this year.
Taxi driver Colin Dobson, who lives in Oxford and works in Abingdon, said potholes in Oxfordshire had got much worse over the past few years.
He said: “The road surface in certain places is breaking up in front of people’s eyes.
“I feel that the tax taken from all drivers, but especially small businesses, is high enough to justify sustaining the same level of repairs.”
County council opposition highways spokesman Alan Armitage said he had concerns about the quality of repairs.
Mr Armitage, also Lord Mayor of Oxford, said: “Our experience is that quite a lot of repaired potholes open up again more quickly than they should.
“This is because they are patching rather than resurfacing and it’s also because of the materials they are using.”
He also raised concerns over the planned £1.01m reduction in the road maintenance budget between 2015 and 2017.
While the authority hopes to receive a slice of a £200m pothole fund announced by transport minister Norman Baker to help plug the gap, Mr Armitage argued: “It defies logic that they’re saying they are repairing more potholes but they’re going to cut the budget.”
Cycling campaigner Richard Mann said the council was good at responding to reports of potholes, but was worried by cuts to budgets.
He said: “Our worry is that they may cut making longer-term improvements, and if you skimp in the short-term, you pay for it in the long-term.”
Transport bosses last night warned the recent flooding and freezing temperatures were expected to create further problems, with water freezing and expanding in potholes.
The AA’s head of roads policy Paul Watters said: “You’ve had the worst possible combination of conditions. It’s been wet, it’s been freezing and it’s been snowing, so drivers are going to have to be really careful.”
Over the past five years, the council has paid out £283,493.89 in compensation to drivers whose cars were damaged by the county’s roads.
Across the five years, the average payouts were broadly similar, ranging from £283 to £306, except in 2011/12 when the average payout was £233.
County council spokesman Owen Morton said the harsh winters of 2009 and 2010 had a “significant impact on the condition of the road network”.
He also said more potholes were being reported by the public, which could have led to the increase in repairs.
He said: “We certainly believe we are getting better information from the public, which has helped us address defects more efficiently.”