West Sussex County Council leader: We don’t want this pothole situation

Potholes at a crossroadPotholes at a crossroad
Potholes at a crossroad
Last week a young lady told me that her car’s wheels had a strange knocking sound and it happened after she had gone over a pothole.

I checked her car and discovered it was the bearing which had been damaged going over the pothole. The young lady was my daughter, and it was my car!

I tell this story because I know many of you have had a similar experience and feel frustrated and annoyed at the condition of our roads.

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I don’t blame you for feeling this way, I felt the same emotions as we went about getting the car repaired.

Paul Marshall, Leader, West Sussex County CouncilPaul Marshall, Leader, West Sussex County Council
Paul Marshall, Leader, West Sussex County Council

Now I would imagine your immediate reaction is, ‘well you’re the leader of the council, get it sorted’, but unfortunately it is not as easy as that.

Let me be clear, neither I, nor my colleagues on the council, want this situation. If we could wave a magic wand and at least repair the defects, if not resurface our entire road network, we would do it, but we can’t.

Our roads, of which we maintain 4,000 kilometres, are facing a daily barrage: increased traffic, adverse weather and a lack of resource to bring them to standard, let alone continuing to maintain them.

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It cannot be overstated how much climate change is affecting the roads. We have all seen the huge amounts of rain we have had over the past few months, with February being the wettest on record.

This level of water impacts the roads and damages repairs already carried out as well as delaying our teams from being able to fix the roads as quickly as we would like.

You may not agree, but it is a tribute to the officers of the council how many pothole repairs we carry out: 29,000 in the previous financial year with another 23,000 repairs having been completed using Velocity road patchers.

Our highway teams are working hard to ensure they fix the potholes as soon as possible.

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We have three Velocity machines operating to fix and maintain the roads.

We prioritise the worst holes and damaged roads. We do all we can to ensure the main roads are open so people can travel with the minimum of disruption.

We are putting more and more resource into this, with additional funds being allocated to tackling the problem for both the previous and coming financial years. We are also committed to continuing to grow the available funding next year and beyond.

Yes, we need more money from the Government and we have not let up on lobbying for more, which is why we, along with other authorities, received additional funding.

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What I am saying to you is that we get it, the frustration and anger, but I am also asking for understanding. That we are putting in the resource, the systems and manpower to do all we can to maintain the roads.

If you report a pothole, we will get to it, it may not be tomorrow or this week but it will be repaired. Have patience, we are working for you as hard as we can.