‘Herts roads neglected for more than a decade’

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A TOWN leader has revealed that the county’s roads have been neglected by Herts Highways since the mid 1990s.

Ian Reay, who represents Berkhamsted on Herts County Council, said most people will have noticed a “significant deterioration” to road surfaces.

He said the county’s roads are valued at £3.1bn.

“You have to spend more than £30m per year to maintain them,” he said.

“This started to decline in the mid-1990s and has continued since then. The deterioration has been continuing unnoticed until the last three years, with all the snow and ice.”

The Gazette reported last month that the county council spent £871,573 on patching up potholes between November and January. There are 90 crews dedicated to the task in Herts, Mr Reay said.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Berkhamsted Citizens Association on Thursday, Mr Reay questioned the quality of repairs.

The fastest way of dealing with potholes is to fill them with cold ashphalt paving and then move onto the next reported pothole.

But this is just a short-term fix a crew has to come back to pour hot ashphalt into the holes, which gives a more permanent repairs.

Crews aim to return within two weeks - but Mr Reay said: “That has not been possible due to high demand.”

He said road maintenance was better than last year, but the situation wasn’t helped by people stealing salt from public bins to use on their driveways.

A machine called a jet catcher, which blasts the asphalt into potholes, is due to arrive in Berkhamsted within the next two weeks.

It will give the town the most secure and long-lasting patch-up service available to the council, Mr Reay said.

Under a county council trial of plans in Dacorum from April, each county councillor will be allocated £90,000 to spend on road repairs within their ward. But the scheme does not cover pothole repairs.

Highways chief Stuart Pile said: “Herts has the busiest roads in the country, because of the motorway miles and the close proximity of London.

“In the past two recessions, governments have saved money by not giving cash to local authorities to invest in roads.”

Roger Leishman, of Hall Park, Berkhamsted, thinks his car’s steering link was damaged by sunken manholes.

To report a pothole or any other fault on the road, visit www.hertsdirect.org/highwayfaults or call 0300 123 4047. To see a video on how potholes are repaired, visit www.hertsdirect.org/envroads/roadstrans/highways/potholevid.