Lack of cash sparks road closure fears in Hull

21/06/2012
Highways Reporters



A huge maintenance backlog means roads in Hull could eventually be closed because there is not enough money to repair them.

Hull City Council is moving away from reactive pothole-filling in a bid to slow the decline of the city's highways network.

But the city is suffering from a £126m backlog of maintenance work required to bring Hull's roads and footpaths back up to scratch.

But only £3m is being spent by the council on road repairs this year because of a continued squeeze on public funding.

Speaking at a scrutiny meeting, transport portfolio holder Councillor Martin Mancey said a worst-case scenario could see some crumbling roads even being closed to traffic in the future.

He told the Hull Daily Mail: "Unless there is significant investment from somewhere in road maintenance over the coming years, some difficult decisions might have to be taken.

"They could include deciding whether to maintain the main transport routes around the city and accepting that, at the same time, we might not be in a position to maintain or repair other roads in a condition that would meet people's expectations.

"In those circumstances, it could mean introducing traffic restrictions on some roads in some cases."

He said the scale of the problem facing the council was illustrated by the need to spend £8m a year just to maintain the roads in their current condition.

He said: "There is no escaping the fact that the current annual current budget is any a third of what is needed to stop the decline.

"What we have to recognise is that we do not have enough money to maintain the status quo, let alone to see any real improvement.

"It's a fundamental problem of not having money to deliver the required service to the public.

"This is a problem that is going to get worse and there will come a point where some roads become so dangerous because of their condition but we will not necessarily be able to carry our repairs."

The policy shift on road repairs will see larger stretches of failing road surfaces being tackled instead of individual potholes.

Mancey said urgent work to single potholes would still be carried out but claimed the new approach was the best way to use limited resources.

He said: "Research has consistently shown that carrying out larger repairs significantly reduce the need to keep going back to the same stretch of road over and over again.

"Under the previous approach, we might have spent a lot of money filling in one sizeable pothole without addressing the poor quality of the road surface around it.

"By doing that, you end up going back to fill in another pothole when it appears in the surrounding surface a few months later."

Speaking at the same scrutiny meeting, Councillor Gary Wareing said: "The key thing is the need to get money from central Government to maintain the highways.

"If that is not going to be forthcoming, we need to make sure we get best value from the money we have got. We have got to make sure that money is spent effectively."

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