Shropshire Council’s management of highways challenged by whistleblower – questions about performance and monitoring to be asked tomorrow

Shropshire Council’s highways contract with Kier is not hitting many of its performance targets. The council is making the usual excuses. The weather was bad. Err, welcome to Shropshire. It pleads there were teething problems with the contract. Keir has a turnover of £4.5 billion. Shropshire Council has a budget above half a billion. How come these giants struggle to introduce a highways contract that costs £21m a year?

A whistleblower has submitted evidence that Shropshire Council does not properly monitor its highway contractors, Kier and WSP. The whistleblower, a Senior Quantity Surveyor who worked as a contractor for the council, said his complaints were not investigated. That’s a contravention of the council’s whistleblowing policy. Questions are to be asked in a council committee tomorrow.

The quality of Shropshire’s highways affects everyone. In 2018/19, 12% of the county’s B and C roads needed maintenance, well above the national average of 5%. It is time to stop making excuses. It is time to ensure that council taxpayers get bangs for their bucks. It is time to end the bangs and bucking people experience travelling on the county’s rural and urban roads.  

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Good news as more than 80 potholes to be repaired in Ludlow overnight next Monday to Wednesday (updated)

Update 9 September. Due to the wet weather, repairs will not now begin until Thursday 12 September.

Good news on the pothole front. Our town is riddled with potholes and a bumpy ride is quite normal. While a few of the big potholes have been patched, the backlog remains large. The council’s consultants have now identified 82 defects within Ludlow that require repair. These are shown on the map below. They will be repaired overnight on 9-11 September.

Shropshire Council’s highways contractor, Kier, will be using a new technique to quickly repair potholes. Under the process, which the highways team says is “extremely quiet”, potholes are cleaned out, filled with a material called Texpatch and covered with a patch. This is expected to provide a longer-lasting, smoother, neater finish compared to traditional pothole repairs. The process has already been trialled in Whitchurch and Market Drayton.

This is welcome news. Potholes are a hazard and they damage vehicles. They also give a poor impression of our town to visitors. It’s great that these potholes are to be repaired in time for the Food Festival which begins on 13 September.

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Ludlow gridlocked for the morning and not a moment’s work during Severn Trent Water’s blockade of Corve Street

Welcome to Shropshire in 2019. Severn Trent Water arrived without notice to block off the Bullring at the top of Corve Street just after 9am this morning. The work was declared an emergency so no notice was given to Shropshire Council or anyone else. But it was only a leaky stopcock. Buses stopped. People missed their trains. I learnt that the only way that one bit of Shropshire Highways can contact another bit of Shropshire Highways is to ring the customer call centre and wait for up to forty minutes to get connected. You couldn’t make it up.

After two-and-a-half hours the blockade was lifted. Despite the disruption. no work had been done whatsoever. Things can only get better. But I am not holding my breath.

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15-minute closure on Brand Lane this morning 28 February for pothole repair

Brand Lane will close for around 15 minutes midmorning today to fix a nasty pothole at the Old Street end. There will be no signposted diversions and large vehicles will need to wait for the road to be cleared. I have asked for the work to be timed to minimise disruptions to the town bus services. Please be patient if you get held up. This brute of a pothole is wrecking cars and must be repaired.

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Is Severn Trent the country’s most inefficient utility company for roadway repairs?

We have seen this many times. A utility company needs to fix a problem. It fixes the problem. Then they clear off for a couple of days before removing lights or patching up a road. This has happened twice over the last few days. On Saturday night, Western Power Distribution dug up the main exit from the town centre, Brand Lane, to fix a power fault. But the tarmac to patch the hole didn’t arrive until Monday morning. Western Power was however outclassed by Severn Trent. The water company needed to dig a hole in the pavement on Upper Galdeford. It did so on Sunday under a one-day permit. But the company seems to have run out of tarmac because the hole has not been filled in (Wednesday morning) and the traffic lights remain in place.

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