Councillors blast Herts Highways over potholes

TWO COUNCILLORS launched a withering attack on Herts Highways as they vented frustration over scant remedial action on the district’s infamous pothole-riddled streets.

Speaking on behalf of equally annoyed drivers, Cllrs Aislinn Lee and Chris White took Herts Highways representatives to task at a joint forum attended by district and county councillors last Thursday.

The pair questioned the point of continuing Highways Joint Member Panel meetings given their discontent and anger over a lack of improvements to local roads.

Cllr Lee said that the biggest complaint she received from residents was “about the numerous potholes.”

She said: “It’s just not good enough. Is there any future point in us coming to these meetings because what do we add to them? Where do we change things? Absolutely zilch.”

Cllr Lee said that she, like other councillors, was on the receiving end of complaints from irate residents when vehicles risked being damaged after hitting yet another pothole.

Herts Highways maintains the county’s 3,000 miles of roads and pavements and crews can often fill more than 1,000 potholes in a week.

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The flashpoint for councillors’ complaints at the panel was a Herts Highways technical report on deteriorating streets including St James Road in Harpenden and Palfrey Close and Normandy Road in St Albans.

Despite widespread cracking of the surface of St James Road and its “very poor” condition, the earliest it can be fixed is 2012/13.

Cllr White had asked that Palfrey Close surfacing planned for 2011/12 and Normandy Road resurfacing planned for 2013/14 had their years swapped. But Herts Highways described Normandy Road as being in a “fair condition” as potholes had been filled and suffered only “minor cracks and surface defects,” and that work “elsewhere would give better value for money”.

Cllrs Lee and White said it was an “insult” that when they passed on information about potholes the organisation ignored their pleas for much-needed road repairs.

Cllr White commented: “It’s a disgrace. I will have no further meetings with the [Highways] district manager on roads because there is no point.”

Cllr Lee said the technical report “doesn’t reflect what it is like on the ground.”

Danny Kyan, Herts Highways area service manager for Mid-Herts, said: “I will take these words on board. I understand the frustration that some members are expressing here tonight. I have certainly been spending a lot of time building bridges and I’m committed to continue that work.”

He said the two-way dialogue between councillors and Herts Highways was important as it provided feedback from the community.

Cllr Teresa Heritage said: “To say this forum is a waste of time is not fair. Officers have been looking at various safety issues and have worked very hard.”