Tag: roads

Decent highways for Shropshire? Are you kidding?

It’s Wimbledon. Surrounded by screens I am watching a couple of games at once. John McEnroe is commenting. He is famous of course for his comments on court. “You can’t be serious man. You cannot be serious!” This came to mind because of an open letter from Steve Charmley earlier in the week. He is the deputy leader of Shropshire Council who backed a £5 million annual cut from the highways budget under Peter Nutting’s leadership. Now he has nothing but good news about highways. Our roads are to be manicured as perfectly as the lawn of Centre Court. There will be more money and better and longer lasting repairs. We have been promised this before. Shropshire Council’s leadership has rarely delivered on highways promises. Can Charmley deliver? Is he serious?

Shropshire Council to use council meeting to smooth over highways problems ahead of 6 May local elections

Despite the clear restrictions on what council business can be conducted in the run up to an election, Shropshire Council’s administration has scheduled a meeting on its contractors’ performance on highways maintenance next Tuesday. It seems that the council is not aware that highways are a political issue and a battleground in many council areas around the county. Among the reports to be considered by the Place Overview Committee next Tuesday is one on the struggling highways contractor Kier, the company responsible for delivering highways repairs at a cost of £27m a year. The report admits to three years of failings but makes the case improvements are being made. This is a smoothie view of highways. If only our highways were smooth.

Bashed Belisha Beacon is just the latest instance of street furniture wrecking in Ludlow

Ludlow seems to have more than its fair share of street furniture bashing. I have lost track of how often street furniture in the town centre is bashed and broken. Signs on Castle Street, bollards at Bodenhams and on Old Street. It’s an expensive business. A coach company that demolished the Bodenhams bollard was sent a bill of £1,000 by Shropshire Council for a replacement. And it is not so long ago that Ludford Bridge was battered by a truck delivering tarmac for resurfacing at Tesco. Now, a Belisha Beacon on Foldgate Lane outside the Co-op has been demolished. It is a curious incident. The junction is wide. Either a car came around the corner from Sheet Road and completely missed the junction – the road is 8.5m wide at this point and 25m wide at Sheet Road. Or someone reversed over the zebra crossing to hit the Belisha. It was certainly a hard knock and the vehicle must have been damaged. I asked the police if a traffic accident was reported. They said no.

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.  

Pothole plague is more down to the catastrophic collapse of our roads than the severe winter

I was amazed to hear a spokesman for Keir tell BBC Radio Shropshire last week that the winter just past was “one of the worst in living memory.” Nonsense. It doesn’t compare with 2009/10, which was the coldest winter since 1979. I remember both. We didn’t get as many potholes in 2010. That was because our roads were in a better condition. Now far too many of Shropshire’s roads are at the point of catastrophic failure because of constant budget cuts. It only takes a spell of nasty weather, and that’s normal in this part of the world, for potholes to breed like a plague of rats. You only need to drive along Sheet Road to witness this.

Back to top