With Parliament in recess for the summer, I have been able to spend more time in South Shropshire meeting local residents, organisations, businesses and voluntary groups. So I have been driving more than usual right across the constituency, especially on some of our smaller roads.
I have been pleased to see many local roads repaired recently, but there remain a good number still in need of work. Several constituents have alerted me to poor road conditions since the winter, so I know this has been a pressing concern for many people.
Clearly, the unusually high temperatures we experienced recently, following several periods of freezing cold including the Beast from the East that preceded them, are indicative of how extreme weather events are becoming more common. This of course puts more pressure on maintaining the quality of road surfaces.
The Government has recognised this pressure, and earlier this year awarded £100m to councils across the country to repair roads on top of on top of the near £6 billion already committed to maintain and repair local roads. Shropshire Council began the 2018/19 financial year with £2.7m additional resources in its highways budget to treat potholes. It almost doubled the number of teams tackling potholes.
Potholes are an ongoing problem, and Shropshire Council estimate they deal with around 18,000 potholes per year. But the Council has become better at fixing potholes, introducing a new system for recording and prioritising road defects. In the past few years as these changes have been made, I have certainly received less correspondence from constituents concerned about road conditions – this year proving the exception, due I am sure to the more severe weather last winter.
I expect Shropshire Council to work hard to eliminate a substantial number of potholes before the winter months set in. But we can all play a role in making that job easier by reporting road defects when we come across them. There are over 3,100 miles of roads, cycle ways, footpaths and verges in Shropshire, which clearly cannot all be inspected. So reporting problems to the Council will help ensure a road is included in the programme of repairs as quickly as possible. You can do so online at www.shropshire.gov.uk/roads-and-highways/report-a-fault-or-concern.
By reporting issues to Shropshire Council we can prevent potholes worsening, and help ensure our roads are prioritised and put into good condition as quickly as possible ahead of this next winter.