Herts Highways under fire over St Albans roads

PUBLISHED: 12:01 09 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:39 06 May 2010

POORLY-maintained local roads and pavements and the long delays in repairing them have prompted a highways panel to reject the repairs programme for the next five years. Herts Highways came under fire at a joint highways member panel meeting in St Albans

POORLY-maintained local roads and pavements and the long delays in repairing them have prompted a highways panel to reject the repairs programme for the next five years.

Herts Highways came under fire at a joint highways member panel meeting in St Albans in which both plans and performance were criticised.

The committee also took the unusual step of supporting a Lib-Dem motion expressing grave concern at the proposed highway repair programme for the next five years.

It has effectively set St Albans councillors on a collision course with Herts Highways over the future of the local works programme.

Members of the committee particularly criticised the "asset management" system - the means by which Herts Highways works out which repairs to carry out first - which appeared to show that there were a third more road repair scheme in South West Harpenden than in central St Albans and four times as many in the Sandridge division.

County and district Cllr Chris White said that in his St Albans division, roads already turning to gravel were scheduled for repairs in 2012 or even 2015. Some roads, clearly buckling or subsiding, were scheduled merely for "thin surface dressing" despite repeated representations made by local councillors.

St Albans Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate, Sandy Walkington, was at the meeting to present the results from his road and pavement dossier which emerged from the two and a half thousand responses to a survey he carried out earlier this year.

Nearly 86 per cent of those who responded had expressed dissatisfaction with the condition of roads and pavements with 55 per cent very dissatisfied.

He said that apart from the obvious implications to cyclists, mobility scooter users, people in wheelchairs and mothers with prams or buggies, elderly people in particular felt trapped in their homes for fear of falling and 29 per cent of respondents had fallen and suffered quite serious injuries.

A spokesperson for Herts Highways said that there were 10 highways joint member panels in the county, one for each district, and they were all consulted twice a year about the future works programme.

She went on: "While we endeavour to take the panels' views and aspirations into account, it is not always possible to include everything that the panel would like to see done within the programme because we have to keep within our budget."

She said that the concern raised by the panel about the proposed works in the five-year programme would be investigated.


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