CAMPAIGN: Stop district’s roads going to pot

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As the district recovers from the latest snowfall and sub-zero temperatures, it’s certain to take its toll on our roads.

Ice and snow can cause asphalt to crumble, and the shocking state of many surfaces is becoming quite apparent.

That’s why the Express is launching a campaign this week, in conjunction with Wakefield Council, to improve our roads.

Whether you’re a driver, cyclist or pedestrian, potholes are a costly and dangerous menace as vehicles attempt to swerve to avoid a looming crater or bounce through them risking uncertain damage or causing an accident.

Many people have been left counting the personal cost of a close encounter with a pothole and felt the frustration of wondering why, when we pay so much in various taxes, the roads which are at the heart of all aspects of daily life are in such bad way.

Of course, potholes are not a new problem and the authorities responsible for tackling them are well aware of the issue - but the dramatic variations in temperature and weather conditions in recent weeks has exacerbated the issue.

Wakefield Council fills in between 8,000 and 9,000 potholes a year, but let us be clear, we do not blame Wakefield Council for the dire state of some of our roads and the purpose of this campaign is not to unfairly criticise them or their highways teams.

In recent years they have had their budgets severely pruned and difficult choices have had to be made.

But enough is enough.

The road network is core infrastructure for the economy, for residents and for the emergency services. It is vital it is improved.

So this is what we are asking of you today.

Send us a photo or video of a pothole that is causing you greatest concern. You can do that by e-mail - editorial@wakefieldexpress.co.uk - or on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

At the same time include a few details of where it is.

Please copy this information to the council at www.wakefield.gov.uk/online or by calling 03458 506 506.

Make sure that when you are taking a photo you do so safely and do not put yourself at risk from traffic.

For our part, we will be speaking to the council about the pothole concerns that you raise and, working with our sister newspapers across England, will support them in any lobbying of central government for additional funding.

Potholes may sound trivial. They are anything but.

They have the potential to cause serious accidents and inflect substantial damage on our vehicles.

Improving our roads is essential to making our communities safer and better places in which to live and work.

Coun Matthew Morley, cabinet member for transport and highways at Wakefield Council, said: “The council receives a specific pothole grant of approximately £350,000 from the Department for Transport.

“In addition we spend an additional £800,000 on maintenance of the district’s roads, which includes repairing potholes and other work to maintain roads.

“We are working effectively and efficiently in managing the resources that we have.

“This is not easy, but we are investing as much as we can to protect our roads as we know how important this is to everyone.

“The background is that we have experienced significant cuts to our budget by the Government over the last eight years with over £171m of savings having been made since 2010 and Government grant funding is now 53 per cent less than it was eight years ago.

“But we remain fully committed to providing a quality service. We have a team of inspectors who travel the district’s roads to identify where there are issues which are then tackled by the council’s repair teams.

“We also welcome residents getting in touch and reporting any issues on the roads including potholes.”