Suffolk Highways have admitted that they are currently spending thousands of pounds on material that will only temporarily repair potholed highways across the county.
The revelations came during a meeting of Suffolk County Council’s Scrutiny Committee today, in which officers and Cabinet Members were questioned over the response of the highways team to the severe weather experienced in the region during February and March.
Suffolk Highways have received over 9500 customer reports of potholes since the beginning of 2018, and a significant backlog of repairs has developed. A decision was therefore made to undertake quicker yet costlier temporary repairs, resulting in a recent announcement that “Suffolk has seen over 6500 potholes repaired since 1 January 2018”. However, a large percentage of these repairs are temporary and highways gangs will soon be returning to the sites to undertake additional permanent repairs.
Councillor Caroline Page, Spokesperson for Transport from the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group, commented:
“It is outrageous that Suffolk Highways considers this to be a good use of taxpayer’s money. Within months, we will be paying once again to fix the exact same potholes.
Earlier this week, Suffolk County Council proudly announced that over 6500 potholes had been repaired. What they failed to tell Suffolk residents is that these repairs are not designed to last.
The target for Suffolk Highways is for only 5% of repairs to be temporary, but right now we’re closer to 70%. That’s going to result in a huge number of repeated repairs in the coming months, wasting time and resources. Can we really call that value for money?”
The material, known as ViaFix, costs Suffolk County Council £800 per tonne and has been in use since March. In comparison, the material normally used for temporary repairs costs approximately £450 per tonne, whilst hot asphalt used for permanent repairs costs approximately £90 per tonne.
Although ViaFix fills potholes quickly, it can cause the surrounding asphalt road to break up and deteriorate as it hardens. Therefore, there is a risk that these temporary repairs will increase the number of potholes in the county in the coming months, raising further questions over Suffolk County Council’s decision to use this expensive material.
Papers from the Scrutiny Committee are available at https://committeeminutes.suffolk.gov.uk/DocSetPage.aspx?MeetingTitle=(01-05-2018),%20Scrutiny%20Committee