Row blows up over state of paving in Ipswich as work is left unfinished
PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 February 2018
Paving repairs in the middle of Ipswich have been left unfinished after a breakdown in communications between Suffolk County Council and a utility company that was working in the town.
And the county has admitted it is now only able to check up on about a third of utility work on roads because spending cuts have reduced their “network assurance” team.
The problems came to light after Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said highways officials at the county had not done enough to ensure that utility companies reinstate roadworks fully after digging into the ground to reach damaged infrastructure.
Mr Ellesmere said there were numerous places in the town centre where there had been patches of temporary road filling left in well over the six month period – especially at the Tower Ramparts bus station and near the Buttermarket Centre and Arras Square.
He said: “When the road is dug up for work, utilities can leave a temporary patch for up to six months. That gives the ground time to settle. But after then they have to restore the paving.
“When the borough was responsible for roads and pavements (until 2013) we were very hot on this – and made sure the work was carried out. But the county don’t seem to worry.
“For instance there have been some patches left near the Sailmakers’ entrance at Tower Ramparts which were dug up soon after the work was completed (in early 2014) and there has been no sign of them being completed.”
The county council said budget cuts over the past few years meant that there was no longer as much money available to check up on contractors.
Jane Storey, the county’s cabinet member for highways, said: “Our Network Assurance team is obligated to inspect at least 30% of works across the county, something we regularly exceed.
“The reinstatement outside Sailmakers has been notified in error by the works promoter as permanent rather than temporary. Thank you to David Ellesmere for bringing it to our attention, we will be contacting the responsible party to reinstate the area correctly. We manage works across the county, not just Ipswich – however there is nothing to indicate the management of works within our county town are now any better or worse than they were before the county took over.”