State of Nottinghamshire’s roads poses ‘reputation risk’ as repair job branded unacceptable

The road repair in Brookside, Hucknall.
By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

A leading councillor has admitted the state of Nottinghamshire’s roads is a “reputation risk” to the county council after describing a recent road repair job as “unacceptable”.

Councillor Neil Clarke (Con), chairman of the authority’s transport and environment committee, made the remarks after being questioned on the repair work conducted in Brookside, Hucknall, earlier this month.

The repair was described by another local politician as a “pig’s ear” after subcontractors visited the road for emergency repair work and “chucked some Viafix into a few holes and drove off”.

Viafix, a form of cold asphalt repair which fills in specific holes on a temporary basis, is likely to be on its way out under the county council’s new highways review.

The authority is due to move towards more permanent solutions and offering full road replacement schemes, rather than temporary pothole repairs described as an “embarrassment” by some opposition councillors.

And when quizzed on the recent Brookside job by Cllr Lee Waters (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall South, the committee chairman admitted the repair wasn’t good enough.

Speaking in Thursday’s full council meeting, Cllr Clarke said: “The emergency repair work carried out was not acceptable.

“The work carried out by a subcontractor was unsatisfactory, even as a temporary measure, and they undertook to re-do the work at their own expense.

Subcontactors returned to Brookside to re-do the works following complaints.

“The county council recently carried out a highways review where we would focus on local estate roads in a particularly poor condition.

“Brookside is scheduled in this forthcoming year for the further work to be carried out, so the end result will be far more satisfactory for road users and residents.

“The condition of our roads and pavements is indeed a reputational risk to this council, and that’s why we’re working a lot harder to address it.”

But he said there is a large backlog of road repairs which “will take a long time to put right”.

In response to his comments, Cllr Lee Waters said: “I thank Cllr Clarke for acknowledging the problems on Brookside.

“I welcome the fact Brookside will be revisited. The job on Brookside is common in Nottinghamshire and it’s not good enough.”

The council has been criticised in the past for the state of the county’s roads, with figures showing more than 476,000 repairs were conducted in the past five years.

The issue was described by councillors as the “biggest issue on the doorsteps” in last May’s elections, with the cross-party highways panel launched as one of the first actions by the current Conservative administration.

The panel brought in independent consultant WSP and sought a review from the Local Government Association to look at how it currently operates and find ways to improve.

It also spoke with other councils to see how they work and whether any methods could be used.

The authority was recommended to focus on longer-term, full road resurfacing schemes and to limit the use of Viafix to emergencies – recommendations approved by councillors in the autumn.

The council will also shift from a one-year to a three-year programme of repair plans, which it says would give residents “certainty” over when their roads will be repaired.

And speaking in November, Cllr Clarke said the council will work with utility companies – which regularly conduct gas or waterpipe works – to ensure work is done to a high standard and roads are ‘reinstated in a good condition’.

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