AFTER four years and £150 million spent trying to fix our county highways, Cheltenham still has some of the worst roads in Gloucestershire.
The latest lot of Government funding is coming to the end of its four-year programme, but Cheltenham people are still facing pot hole hell on a daily basis.
According to Gloucestershire Council over 500,000 tonnes of tarmac has been used on the county’s roads - enough to fill more than 31,000 lorries.
And while 130,000 potholes have been filled, the council admits it is a constant battle to keep on top of the issue.
During wet or freezing weather the impact on roads gets much worse, so the council have announced a further 15 highways gangs will be tasked to tackle potholes following the recent cold spell.
Cllr Vernon Smith, cabinet member for highways and flooding, said: “We’ve put a huge amount into our roads over the past four years and focussed on consistent resurfacing. This is the best way to tackle potholes long term, but there is still a need to get out there and deal with potholes especially at this time of year.”
But the issue has become a political hot ‘pot-ato’, with councillors from all sides of the authority quick to take pot hole pot shots at the opponents who they say are to blame.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Colin Hay, County Councillor for All Saints and Oakley, said:
“The state of Cheltenham’s roads and pavements are consistently the number one subject on the doorstep. For 16 years the Conservatives have had sole control of the county’s highways, yet under them the roads and pavements have become a mess.
“Year after year the County Council wastes money filling potholes on road surfaces that are crumbling away, only for the same potholes to reappear days later. Meanwhile our pavements have been forgotten, presenting a dangerous hazard for our elderly and disabled residents.
“Cheltenham has never received its fair share of the highways budget. Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats would make sure districts received the right proportion of funding while also ending the ceaseless patching of roads by resurfacing whole sections at a time. We will also give greater influence to local communities and districts over their roads and pavements by significantly increasing the local highways budget. Gloucestershire deserves so much better than dangerous highways.”
Tim Harman, Conservative County Councillor for Park and Lansdown, said: “Unlike the Lib Dems who are obsessed with shambolic money-wasting projects like Boots Corner, local Conservatives are committed to a £100m resurfacing plan for Gloucestershire roads. The Lib Dems last year even voted to cut road repair projects. We need hot tarmac – not hot air.”
Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk said: “Where Cheltenham’s main roads like the Prom and St James’ Square have been resurfaced we’re seeing fewer potholes. That’s an excellent start, but I want to see more side roads fixed. That’s why I’ve pushed for an ambitious £100m resurfacing pledge to feature in the Conservative manifesto for elections in May.”
Cheltenham resident comments;
“Being a cyclist it's an absolute nightmare. The road by the side of the fire station is a death trap, I have no choice but to cycle in the middle of the road.”
“Princess Elizabeth Way just past the Grevil Road turning is disgraceful. Drivers are now avoiding the potholes by swerving on to the other side of the road at a speed faster than the national speed limit for that stretch of road. Prestbury Road by the BP Garage is another prime example.
Those potholes been there for ages and are terrible. Harp Hill going past the Hewlett Arms is a nightmare too. My mate went over a pothole there a couple of weeks ago, his front tyre blew instantly, he was on the side of the road changing the tyre when he realised the back one had blown as well. He was irate, he spoke to someone from Gloucestershire Highways and he was told it wasn't their problem.”
“Marshland Road, starting from the square, all the way up the road. The ones at the start of the road are a dangerous hazard. A young child or elder person could seriously injure themselves, not to mention the damage it's doing to cars.”
“We have to repair some of the vehicles damaged by the potholes in Cheltenham and they are so bad it goes way beyond just replacing tyres, and the council make it immensely difficult to claim against damages.”
Lee Skinner, owner Leckhampton Tyres & MOT
“I see the signs about GCC spending £150 Million, but I for one have not seen an improvement. Also, riding motorcycle, I am more aware of how bad the state of the roads has got.”
Darren Jameson from Bishops Cleeve.
“Potholes in Cheltenham are a disgrace especially on Swindon Lane and many other roads. I’m sure there can be a cost-effective solution.”
Steve Taylor, Hesters Way
“You cannot avoid all the potholes along Caernarvon Road by Morrisons and cars slow right down to 5mph creating problems with other drivers - it’s an abysmal situation.”
Patrick Cox, Up Hatherley
“They need to look at the state of the roads in all the small streets that traffic was forced down during the closure of Boot's Corner. They're a mess.”