30 April 2021
What is Talking Point?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every week. Here, we share our responses.
Today's Question: Are councils “simply patching up potholes rather than fixing them properly”?
Potholes may seem a minor issue but they concern most of us. Opinion surveys consistently show that the repair of roads, footways and cycleways is a high priority for local communities. As well as being a problem for drivers, bad road surface is a major obstacle to people choosing active transport with its myriad of health, wellbeing and environmental benefits. Potholes are particularly dangerous for cyclists: aside from the risk of falling off if you hit one, swerving round them raises your risk of collision with cars. For those using mobility aids they potentially make it impossible to get around. I’ve had Cambridge residents tell me they are less confident to leave the house because of worry about tripping on poorly-maintained surfaces.
Cambridgeshire County Council’s time estimate for fixing a pothole can be anything from 36 hours to 13 weeks. Their website shows that there are about 900 reported potholes in Cambridge, with 200 of these in Abbey, where I am standing as the Green candidate in the upcoming election.
So we know where the potholes are and we all agree they need fixing – what’s the problem? Money. The Tory government has allocated £27.7 million to Cambridgeshire for highways maintenance in 2021/22 – compared with around £35 million the year before. And, if big infrastructure projects planned by the Combined Authority go ahead, this money will have to stretch even further since all those autonomous metros and dual carriageways will need maintaining. Is it any wonder that the Council is struggling to find the money to fix potholes quickly or do a proper job?
Solutions could include putting more onus on developers and utility companies to leave roads in good condition once their work is completed. But the main thing we need is more money… anyone got Boris Johnson’s phone number?
Our response was written Jeremy Caddick. Jeremy is the County Council Candidate for Abbey in the 2021 Election. He has lived in Cambridge for more than 25 years and is the Dean and Chaplain at one of the Colleges in Cambridge University. He was one of the leaders of the campaign for the University to cut its links with fossil fuel companies.