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From the chamber - Highways and transport

August 25, 2020 7:10 PM
By Paul Fishwick in https://www.wokinghampaper.co.uk/

Highways and Transport

The highway asset

The highway is the most used service that the Borough Council offers, and we all use it, whether you are walking, cycling, a bus or rail passenger or driving.

It is therefore an extremely important asset and needs to be looked after for all its users. A road shows major signs of deterioration when potholes appear, and the travelling public may claim for damage to their vehicle. Unless the council can defend the claim, they will need to pay out, creating more inefficiencies. The Executive Member for Highways and Transport proudly announced in February that 7,000 works orders for routine repairs had been issued and more resources had been put in to fill potholes. This is inefficient use of money as the road has not been looked after properly. It comes down to preventative maintenance, treating the road before the potholes occur. This continues to be our plan.

Speed limits

The Borough Council should review the speed limits on its network at least every 4 to 5 years. However, it has failed to act for 9 years and suddenly in June this year announced a review of its speed limits with no consultation end date.

Again, and without warning, an end date to the consultation was announced of 29th July that was subsequently revised to 15th July. This shows the 'knee jerk' reactions and poor planning that has taken place. Speed limit reviews should be undertaken frequently and at the right time to keep the network as safe as possible.

The cycling and walking revolution

In May the government announced a package of forward funding for Cycling and walking. The Borough Council was scheduled to be awarded some of this funding in two tranches. Tranche 1 was for £150,000 and Tranche 2 £607,000. The bid to the Department for Transport was developed by the ruling Conservative administration. It has clearly shown that what was submitted, focusing on walking only, was not bold enough and did not meet the criteria set by the government as they were awarded only 50% of their tentative allocation (£75,000). They were one of 12 local authorities to receive 50%, with 33 receiving all the original identified funding and 23 receiving 112% of their initial tentative funding.

Going forward, the Tranche 2 (indicative funding of £607,000) will also be again developed by the ruling Conservative administration. We can only hope that they have learnt something from their first bid.

Paul Fishwick, Highways and Transport lead for the Liberal Democrats.