York’s Liberal Democrat councillors are proposing a change to the way that the council decides which potholes are filled in and which ones are not.
In a motion to be debated at a Full Council meeting on Thursday (20 July) they will propose that the depth at which potholes are considered for repair – known as the ‘investigatory threshold’ – is reduced from 40mm to 30mm.
This follows concerns raised by residents that many dangerous potholes are not being deemed worthy of repair due to them not being deep enough.
The motion highlights the particular issues affecting concrete roads across the city that have a tarmac top layer.
As the asphalt on these roads is usually only around 30mm in depth, the potholes are considered not deep enough for repair under the council’s current Highways Safety Inspection Manual.
And as the pothole in the asphalt layer is unlikely to continue into the concrete surface it is a ‘catch 22’ situation.
Lib Dem councillor for Rural West York ward Anne Hook said: “Poor road surfaces pose a hazard to cyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair and mobility scooter users, motorcyclists and motorists.
“The council’s Highways Manual is currently under review, so now is the ideal time to make changes such as the one we are proposing, which would ensure that specific consideration is given to the maintenance of concrete roads with a Tarmac top layer.
“When the Tarmac on these roads begins to fail, this can be rapid and widespread and lead to a significant length of road becoming difficult and dangerous to use, particularly for cyclists.”
The motion notes that in the Lib Dem / Green administration’s budget agreed in February 2023, an additional £250,000 was allocated to allow local wards to invest in improvements to local roads.
It has since come to light that the council’s new Labour administration is proposing to scrap local decision-making over how this money is spent, and hand control over this £250k funding pot back to officers.
Westfield ward Lib Dem Cllr Andrew Waller said: “Labour’s choice to take away local decision-making on road and footpath repairs is disappointing, but not surprising.
“In recent years Lib Dem councillors in Westfield and other wards have secured funding for local road repairs using our devolved budget. Lib Dem councillors will continue to fight for decisions to be made closer to communities, not by distant senior officers in West Offices.”
In response, executive member for transport and highways Cllr Pete Kilbane said: “The previous ward highways funding scheme was beset by problems of insufficient council officer capacity to develop schemes, meaning many dating back as far as 2019 are still not completed.
“It was a dreadfully inefficient system with countless layers of bureaucracy and waste built in to its design.
“As people cycle and drive around their local streets they can see with their own eyes the failings of the previous scheme.
“So we are trialling an alternative this year that means the same money will be used to repair roads across the city with a solution that lasts at least 15 years, rather that the short term measures preferred by the old Liberal Democrat administration.
“We’ll then consider how the trial went in advance of setting the budget for next year”.
[tptn_list limit=3 daily=1 hour_range=1]