Pothole repairs pledge amid concern over flooding issue in Nacton
PUBLISHED: 11:30 23 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:21 23 February 2019
Suffolk County Council are "absolutely committed" to maintaining the county's roads - after Suffolk Highways said a flooding issue could not be urgently fixed due to tightening budgets.
The concerns that the roads will fall into disrepair come after a fortnight of frost ripped existing potholes further open.
Nacton resident John Norris, 64, described a four-month old pothole in Ipswich Road that was leaking water as “an accident waiting to happen” and has seen tractors, lorries and HGVs take evasive action by swerving across the central line and into the path of oncoming vehicles.
But budgets are already too tight to urgently fix the fault - which may develop into a sinkhole due to water flowing below it - in anything less than eight weeks.
In a statement on the Ipswich Road pothole Suffolk Highways said the agency was aware of an ongoing issue at the location where there is a natural spring and a temporary fix had been arranged.
However they added: “Due to budget constraints, we are unfortunately unable to progress the drainage improvements at this time.”
They said the defect repair timescale is in line with their highway maintenance criteria.
Councillor Mary Evans, cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs, said: “I am absolutely committed to using our budget for Suffolk’s roads to best effect, ensuring we prioritise schemes county-wide based on their severity and impact on road users’ experience – we do this for all defects which appear on the highway, including drainage and flooding issues.
“The underground water spring in Nacton is an issue of which we are fully aware. As with any natural spring, when there is high rainfall, water rises to the surface.
“We are continuing to monitor the location and are exploring options to mitigate the impact on the road. Ongoing work in this location has nothing to do with the progress we are making to repair potholes and maintain road surfaces county-wide.
“With our pledge to resurface 1,000 miles of Suffolk’s Roads by 2021 in full swing and by bringing in extra resource such as the thermal road patchers, we have been able to continue with our preventative maintenance of Suffolk’s roads, as well as fix more road defects quicker and with more permanent, quality repairs.”
A report presented to the council in October 2018 said that the reliance on temporary fixes as a result of a harsh winter coupled with the sheer number of potholes reported meant the most serious ones had to be prioritised, and left crews returning multiple times to repair others nearby.
To combat this, SCC invested in new, faster, more environmentally-friendly thermal patching machinery - and has fixed more than 1,700 defects since they came into use.
Speaking about the new machines in January, councillor Andrew Stringer applauded the investment but said: “Our priority should still be early intervention, better planning and long-term repairs, to stop the roads deteriorating this badly in the first place.
There has been over 3,500 reports of road and walkway problems made to Suffolk Highways since January 2018.
A spokesman for Suffolk Highways said that many of these are now resolved, can relate to any issues the public have with the roads and may have been for the same defect multiple times - for example, 17 complaints were made regarding the same change of road layout to Argyle Street in Ipswich.