Who will take hole responsibility?
Local councils could take on task of fixing potholes on minor roads in their patch – but some councillors fear being ‘passed the blame’
RESPONSIBILITY for pothole repairs could be handed over to town and parish councils - prompting fears county chiefs are attempting to “pass on the blame” for deteriorating roads.
Bucks County Council (BCC) is looking to hand cash over to ‘tier one’ councils to carry out pothole repairs on minor roads – which would also cover appropriate staff training for traffic management.
However a question mark hangs over BCC’s motivation behind the plan – with some Amersham Town Councillors (ATC) remaining “sceptical” over the benefits it would have to residents.
Councillor for Amersham on the Hill Nigel Shepherd said taking on the new responsibility would be a “poisoned chalice” as residents would be under the impression the town council is responsible for all road repairs.
He said: “I am a little bit sceptical here – I can see some circumstances you might say yes, this is just another cost reduction, and passing on the blame to us.
“I am not terribly enthusiastic. But let’s actually give them the benefit of the doubt and ask them the question and have an answer when we next meet.”
However councillor for Amersham Common, Robert Jones, said he receives countless complaints over the state of the town’s roads, so would be “thrilled” to say the town council is doing something about it.
He said: “I get complaints about potholes regardless. I don’t think the general man on the street understands the different tiers of local government responsibility anyway.
“I think it would be a great boon for this council and those around the table to be seen to be the ones that are actually doing something about it.
“I would be thrilled to see an ATC van by a pothole filling it in – providing it then doesn’t become another pothole.”
Cash-strapped BCC was forced to release more than £1.2 million from reserves this year to repair potholes after harsh winter weather destroyed the county’s roads.
The number of potholes reported across Bucks in- crease by almost 3,000 in just one at the beginning of 2018, while concerns were raised by residents and councillors over the quality of road repairs.
The county council now hoping to encourage smaller councils to join its pilot scheme and take on minor road repairs until March next year – with a view to carry on if it is a success.
The scheme would see £16,500 handed over to the town council to carry out the work – which could also include sign and bollard repairs.
However ATC’s deputy mayor Mark Flys fears the new scheme will just see the blame for poor quality roads passed on to the town council.
He said: “The aspiration would be that we’ll be in charge of all of this, so we get all the blame for it and none of the funding to do anything about it.
“So all Bucks will be doing is offsetting the blame to us but not giving us the funding to do the job.”
The councillors agreed to request more information from BCC before making a decision.