As Parliament returned this week, I have been catching up with my postbag and inbox over the Christmas break. I have been struck by the unusual volume of emails and letters from folk concerned – quite properly - about the very poor state of many roads across South Shropshire, worsened by wet weather.
Having visited relatives over Christmas in other rural counties, I am convinced Shropshire’s roads include some of the most pothole-ridden in the country. So I am clear urgent action is needed not just to prevent further deterioration and damage to vehicles – but also for durable improvements, with repairs which will last.
I am taking this up with the Roads Minister – a task made easier by the Conservative Party manifesto pledge at the General Election to a flagship £2bn pothole fund over the next four years. So the government is aware of this problem, and will make funding available to local authorities – two key elements to delivering action on this issue.
That isn’t to say Shropshire has received no funding from central government to fix the state of our roads. In September last year Shropshire Council were awarded £7.3m, through which stretches of 46 of the county’s roads were resurfaced, 25 of which were in South Shropshire. But I am making the case that the recent condition of Shropshire’s roads is so poor, we need our next allocation sooner, rather than later.
I shall also be raising this with other Shropshire MPs at our regular meeting with Shropshire Council later this month, to ask what further action the Council is taking with its highways contractor to rectify the problem and improve the condition of our roads.
We can all play our part by reporting potholes we see to Shropshire Council - since there are over 3,100 miles of roads, cycle ways, and footpaths in Shropshire, which clearly cannot all be continuously inspected. You can do so online at https://shropshire.gov.uk/roads-and-highways/highways-maintenance/pothole-maintenance-and-repair/.
We have seen colder Springs in recent years, including 2018’s Beast from the East, which left us playing catch up in maintaining local roads. So this is a pressing issue that does need urgent action, which I shall be pressing the government and Shropshire Council to deliver.