Saturday, 16 January 2010

Beneath The Surface

After the frost comes the thaw and interest turns to the things which were once buried but are now uncovered.

Potholes are created when ice forms in worn or damaged road surfaces and are a constant nuisance to drivers and cyclists alike.

Karen Blakeman has been out with her camera taking pictures to report repairs needed in Caversham - as she says "the lower half of the road on Donkin Hill looks as though it has been repeatedly bombed."

She advertises, which is a campaign website set up "to highlight poor state of British roads and help motorists seek compensation from Councils" - although she notes that the operators of the site have a commercial interest which makes her query its' value.

Meanwhile the BBC fulfils its' public service remit by explaining how quick fixes are the road to deeper problems and lasting damage.

While the problems after a severe bout of winter weather are bigger than usual it is the same whenever it happens.

Redlands LibDems are on the case.

Reading List picked up on the issue last year to promote the variety of ways and services available to the public which can be used to report problems so they can be dealt with before they get worse.

You can contact your council directly by freephoning 0800 626 540, or you can report the location of any required road maintenance to your local councillor.

Or you can avail yourself of online services.

Fill That Hole is an excellent public resource operated by the Cyclist's Touring Club, while FixMyStreet can be used to report a wider variety of problems (including lighting, litter etc) run by the recommended MySociety group of civic advocacy volunteers.


Update: Grafitti taggers have also been on the rampage under cover of the weather.


  1. Just to look at this whole (excuse that) problem logically.
    The damage is done by water getting into the road surface and freezing ,right!
    Just supposing that enough salt was put on the roads in good time so that the water remained in liquid form....hence no freezing solid....hence little or no damage!
    I wonder which would end up costing the most, proper treatment or making good the damage? say nothing of the cost to the individual who can't get to work or wherever.......and the cost of damage done to vehicles.......and the injuries that result!
    Proper treatment in good time is probably cheaper!

  2. Hi Howard,
    that does make sense, but it's not the only problem.

    A big issue has been the lack of coordination between the council and utilities (electric, water etc) so that when road resurfacing work is done is it done after the utilities dig the road up to repair mains - not before.

    There have been a number of occasions in recent years when roads were dug up within weeks or days of council works!

    Of course there this isn't always predictable, but in a good administration with good management it would be avoided in more cases and this would save significant amounts in money, disruption and general frustration over the long run.

    There is a more complex issue about responsibility and notification, but going into the detail gets a bit tedious for a general audience.

    The knock-on effects of bad management is that resources are targetted at priorities and those areas considered less important are left to deteriorate further because of budgetary considerations.

    Better management won't solve the problems at a stroke, but it will help services catch up to standard. The question then is less political, but more practical.


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