Day: 15 April 2021

Conservatives admit they have struggled to turn around their “oil tanker” of a highways project

We often despair about the state of our highways. A bumpy ride has become the norm as potholes and road defects grow as fast as Shropshire Council can sort them out. Council leaders have been obsessive in their view that only the private sector can deliver quality highways work. Yet the experience in Shropshire of managing highway maintenance through major contactors has proved as jarring as driving on our roads. The initial 2011 contract with Ringway delivered poor quality and late maintenance. There were high hopes of improvement when Kier took over in 2018 but at a recent committee meeting council officers admitted the company is still struggling to deliver timely and quality work after three years. The Conservatives describe the task of getting improvements as being like turning an oil tanker around. Thank goodness they don’t run the Suez Canal!

Conservatives are promising fantasy money for highways – Floreat Salopia Ollam Foraminis?

The Conservatives have promised an extra £40 million for highways if they are re-elected. At a committee meeting early in the month, council officers confirmed that this money could not be found within the planned budget but will have to come from grants, extra government funding, cuts to other budgets and the council’s diminishing reserves. The £40 million is fantasy money, not a commitment. The Conservatives have cut £10 million from the highways budget over the last two years. They have been able to make up a bit of ground through one off government grants for potholes and to repair highways after severe weather. But the road network is so decayed in many areas, especially rural roads, the council is not managing catchup. Perhaps it is time to change the county’s motto from Floreat Salopia to Floreat Salopia Ollam Foraminis. (Please excuse my cod Latin. Corrections welcome in the comments!)

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