HAMPSHIRE’S ruling Conservatives have been left red-faced after it emerged they’ve been forced to pay-out nearly £250,000 to motorists in the last twelve months because of damage and injuries caused by the poor state of the county’s roads.
Despite promising to improve the terrible condition of our roads after years of neglect, in the past three years the amount of compensation paid out by the county has actually increased by an astounding 400%. Meanwhile in Southampton, the council paid out no compensation.
Local people are questioning how on earth HampshireCounty has reached this position. Many residents regularly report pot holes to the council but get no action or response. Some have even been advised by councillors to sue the council for compensation.
Year on year Hampshire taxpayers’ are forced to foot the bill for the poor condition of our roads. Three years ago the bill was £60,000 – now it’s nearly £250,000 of our money wasted. Andover Liberal democrats will continue to put pressure on the county to get road improvements in Andover and across northern TestValley.
If you spot a pothole, let us know and we will fight for action.
Councillors promised road improvements and traffic calming outside RomanWaySchool, including a safe crossing to the bus stop. But contractors put the crossing in the wrong place, closer to the busy Newbury Road junction. Residents have condemned the new crossing as useless and dangerous. Parents are also worried about increased traffic past the school despite county council claims there is no problem.
I agree with the residents and parents. The crossing is not good enough and must be improved. I am pushing highways officers to improve road safety on, and approaching, the new crossing.
Augusta Park residents were surprised to discover that after paying council taxes there for nearly two years the council is still not responsible for their roads. “I pay my council tax every month, so surely there must be some element of care for this?” asked one.
Residents are reporting empty grit bins, faulty street lights and, during the recent cold spell, dangerous, icy roads especially around Endeavour School. They were told this is not a council responsibility and contacted me for help. I spoke at Smannell Parish Council asking them to take responsibility for grit bins and have called on the county council to adopt local roads.
A development of this size needs an adequate and well maintained infrastructure. The council must take responsibility as soon as possible. The good news is that all roads on the west side of Augusta Park will be adopted in the next few months. The remainder should be taken over as soon as possible. I will keep the pressure on both councils to deliver and report back to residents on progress.
I have put in formal requests to Hampshire County Council to release figures on how well they do at repairing roads.
It is a common complaint from residents that they report potholes and broken paving but no action is taken. Too often they are left with no option but to sue the council for compensation. Over £75,000 has been paid out for trips and falls in Andover alone. I have even heard councillors advise residents to sue the council for repairs to cars damaged by pot holes.
I requested details of the number of potholes and broken paving stones reported and repaired in the last year together with costs and time taken to carry out repairs. I hope to see money is being spent wisely and effectively to keeps our roads and pavements safe.
I also asked for details on Operation Resilience. The much publicised project to “future-proof” the road network has received over £6 million of government funding. Only 116 miles of roads were resurfaced in 2011/12 with just 77 miles of resurfacing planned for 2012/13. This doesn’t sound a lot to me. Perhaps too much money is being spent on compensating those suffering from the shoddy state of our roads and paths. Surely it’s better to repair them properly in the first place?
Cllr Katherine Bird is working with council and housing officers to get the footpath between Colenzo Drive and Watery Lane re-instated. The path was fenced off without local consultation and the area became a dumping ground for rubbish.
Following Katherine’s calls Testway Housing and Test Valley Highways have agreed to remove the rubbish and damaged fence from the area.
For many months residents of Cricketers Way have commented on the unsafe reversing of lorries delivering to local stores. This was a matter I raised with Test Valley’s highways department about two years ago.
After my initial requests surveys of lorry movements were made and the highways officers wrote to the store asking for a review of safety regulations. Lorries should only reverse along the access road under supervision of a member of staff with adequate training and appropriate hi-vis clothing.
Despite this there have been a number of occasions when the rules have been flouted. Town councillor Barbara Carpenter and I have since been working with residents, highways and environmental health officers to ensure the safety rules are obeyed.
A Freedom of Information request showed no action had been taken after my previous calls to the highways department. I therefore requested the council undertake a survey of traffic movements to ensure drivers were following safe practice. That survey has now been completed and incidents “not in accordance with company delivery procedures” were observed.
This will now be taken up with the company and the council will be seeking confirmation of their agreed procedures and actions they may be taking in light of what has been witnessed.
Several days now without ther road being flooded – at last the highways engineers are getting on top of the problem.
The road was closed overnight Thursday for surveying and repair work. I have been advised by Hampshire Highways that crews worked until 5:00am Friday morning. They managed to clear the upstream section of pipe of roots and silt and complete the camera survey of the cleaned pipes. Unfortunately there was a lot of silt and tree roots in the pipe so they couldn’t clear the downstream section to the River Anton but this is organised for Sunday evening. They should not need to close the road to carry this out.
I am pleased to report that I have been advised by Hampshire Highways that Northern Avenue was re-opened at 15:15 this afternoon, in time for the evening rush hour. Although heavy rain is forecasted up to 18:00 hours this evening, as the entire system has been pumped clear of water, they are hopeful as they can be that the system will cope this evening and no further flooding will occur.
Further work is planned, including a camera survey tomorrow evening. I have asked that any faults in the drain system are rectified as soon as possible.
Local residents have been aware for some time that there is a major problem with drainage on Northern Avenue with the entire road being covered with water almost every time it rains. Many people have reported this to Hampshire County Council but the only visible response to date has been for contractors to arrive on Sundays to pump the water away.
Today saw yet another attempt to clear the flood waters. I spent some time watching the work and talking to the contractors after which I emailed a letter to the local county counciillor asking for urgent action to deal with this. You can read my letter here.
Letter to Pam Mutton 25 November
Mrs Mutton has since responded and advised me that Northern Anvenue is to close. I have replied to her and county council officers as follows.
Thank you for your prompt action on this matter. It is good to see something is finally being done. However to close the road at short notice may cause major disruptions in the area during Monday morning’s rush hour. Can I have assurances that the road closure will be adequately managed, publicised and signposted so that disruption is kept to a minimum? I am particularly concerned that this closure may lead to traffic jams on the Andover ring road system and rat running through residential streets to avoid the inevitable congestion.
I assume this drastic measure is a consequence of the failure so far to adequately deal with the problem and keep the road open. If so it would be useful for residents to be informed of what measures have been taken so far and what effect these have had on alleviating the problems.
It would also be good, as I said in my letter, to have some indication of what remedial measures are planned to prevent further flooding.
I, and other residents, would also hope to hear as soon as possible how quickly we can expect a satisfactory resolution to this matter.
I look forward to your response.
Watch this website for further details on this unfolding story.
With winter on the way, Lib Dems have been pressing Hampshire County Council to make sure there is enough grit bins around our towns and villages.
In recent years Andover has been left without enough road rock salt leading to chaos on our roads and cancelled bus services because Hampshire County Council failed to get their act together and provide enough grit bins. In other areas, Councils provide free grit supplies for residents to use on their local paths, roads and pavements, making sure that everyone is well prepared for the cold weather.
With £300 million of taxpayers’ money in the bank, local residents are hoping that the Conservative-run County learn from other areas and at least provide grit for the bins they’ve already installed.
If you know of any public place that needs a grit bin please let your Lib Dem team know!