‘Short-term fix’ row over area’s potholes
Council accused of‘sub-par’record on thorny issue
A row has broken out over the state of the region’s roads.
Perth and Kinross Council’s SNP group has accused the Conservative-led administration of using a “sub-par shortterm fix”when repairing potholes.
But the local authority and the Conservative councillor responsible for the committee which oversees the issue have hit back, saying £14 million-worth of road maintenance over 2021/22 has seen a “positive improvement”.
The SNP group said it has received ongoing complaints from locals about the lack of pothole repairs.
Leader Grant Laing claimed the firsttime pothole repair policy for PKC roads had been “quietly and materially altered”.
He and fellow party councillors Tom McEwan and Stewart Donaldson have written to environment and infrastructure committee convener, Councillor Angus Forbes, demanding answers.
Strathtay elected member Cllr Laing said: “Whilst driving the rural roads in my Strathtay ward I noticed that repairs did not appear to be adhering to the firsttime permanent repairs policy that had been promised.
“Upon enquiring with officers, it became apparent that the expected longterm repair process of cutting a regular shape around a pothole and painting the edges with bitumen had not actually been happening – however, the alternative, subpar short-term fix was still being counted as a first-time permanent repair.”
Blairgowrie and Glens elected member Cllr McEwan added: “This attempt to try to boost the pothole repair figures to nearer the 85 per cent target set by the Tory administration has left the current figure at 63 per cent, which is still dismal.
“If the original policy criteria was still being applied, the actual figures would be truly alarming to Perth and Kinross residents.”
Strathearn representative Cllr Donaldson has demanded a “full explanation” at an upcoming meeting of the environment and infrastructure committee, which is to be held on Wednesday.
He added: “What is of concern is not just that the policy announced in September 2017 has failed, but that councillors have not been updated on developments.
“The Tories cannot bring in a policy with lots of press coverage, then change it without comment, and expect Perth and Kinross residents to trust any figures that they subsequently provide on the subject.”
A PKC spokesperson reported a recent “positive improvement” to local roads.
The council spokesperson said: “The latest road condition survey report received from the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland (SCOTS), shows that the condition of the local road network across Perth and Kinross has improved by 3.5 per cent compared to last year.
“This positive improvement has been achieved through a combination of
measures and significant investment in our roads, with a £14 million budget for road maintenance in 2021/22.
“Our first- time permanent repairs approach is based on delivering pothole repairs that last and to eliminate repeat visits to repair the same pothole. Using hot materials ensures a high standard of durability, whether the pothole is squared off or not, and reduces the need for repatching within a three month period.
“This means that the first time permanent policy is being adhered to, while acknowledging that officers have taken an operational decision to the way the repairs have been undertaken.
“We set an aspirational stretched target of 80 per cent and we anticipate needing to treat more than 13,500 potholes this financial year and currently expect to deliver 66 per cent of first-time permanent repairs to potholes this financial year compared to 57 per cent in the previous year.
“There have also been difficulties in procuring external road maintenance contractors as demand increases across the country.
“Perth and Kinross Council Road Maintenance Partnership teams have focused resources on delivering road resurfacing projects in the early part of last year and have faced a difficult situation to resource external road maintenance contractors which has had a knock-on effect on our internal performance target of 80 per cent first-time permanent repairs for potholes.”
Carse of Gowrie member Cllr Forbes responded: “Cllr Laing and his colleagues should not be concerned about the shape of the potholes because the road users in Perth and Kinross just want them fixed, this shows how out of touch Cllr Laing and his group are with the communities they are elected to serve.
“The most recent analysis of the condition of roads across Scotland shows that during the previous SNP administration [ 2013- 17] Perth and Kinross went down from 16th place to 20th place.
“Since the Conservative administration came to power, not only have we recovered the lost ground but we have improved on it as we are now 14th in Scotland.
“By the end of this administration, we will have invested £54 million in our roads, we will have resurfaced 94 miles and surface dressed a further 340 miles as well as repaired tens of thousands of potholes.”
Cllr Forbes went on to conclude: “This is good news for the people of Perth and Kinross.’’
What is of concern is not just that the policy announced in 2017 has failed, but that councillors have not been updated on developments