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’

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - JASMINE RAPSON jasmine.rapson@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

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.

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