Urgent calls have been made to address the state of Lancashire’s footpaths.
Complaints have been made across the county, that badly patched-up, uneven and crumbling pavements are blighting the lives of pedestrians and causing falls.
Now Lancashire County Council (LCC), which has responsibility for the state of footpaths, has been called upon to make an Emergency Audit before someone is seriously injured, and to ‘snag’ work more thoroughly.
But County Highways bosses insist if a trip hazard is reported it will be made safe immediately, with repairs within days. They also say investment is planned for pavements across Lancashire in the next two years.
Penwortham North County Councillor David Howarth claims the footpath along Manor Lane was left “like a slurry field” after resurfacing work was completed at the end of last year.
So bad was the condition – with foot and paw prints set into the surface and ridges that would fill with water – it had to be re-done only weeks later. Coun Howarth said: “You have to wonder whether LCC have a snagging system – do they check their work?”
This concern is shared by Maria Pikulski of Leyland, who has Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, a condition means she can’t see detail, just shapes. She uses help from her partner and a stick with a ball on the end to get around.
The 55-year-old said: “The footpaths are bad all over the place, I’ve fallen flat on my face several times.
“Once I was coming back from the doctors in West Paddock, I crossed the road near Jubilee Court and then I went flying. The pavements are up and down and I badly hurt my shoulder.
“I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, and although I am quite active, if I go down, it takes me a long time to recover.
“I’ve also gone down around the traffic lights outside Tesco’s – the pavements have been patched up all over, there’s ridges and bits where they’ve sunk.
“Wherever you walk you have to be so careful with your footing.
“It’s definitely been getting worse in recent years, I don’t think the council is up-keeping them in the same way or checking anymore. You can’t just patch things up and leave them, often patching things just creates another problem.”
Nia Coleman from Lostock Hall is a sight loss advisor for Galloway’s Society for the Blind.
She said: “I have noticed particularly over the last year or so that the maintenance of footpaths has potentially become a low priority for the council.
“As someone living with sight loss I have noticed that there are more pot holes and also the varying gradients on pavements cause a tripping hazard. I have also noticed that overhanging branches are problematic particularly during the spring/summer months; I personally have been scratched on my face many times and have also had to walk on a busy road to avoid branches.”
Adam Grinsell of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said: “Pedestrians can trip on pavement surfaces very easily, and all too often, falls on pavements and footways mean people need medical or hospital treatment.
“For some people, a simple trip can cause serious, long-term injuries. Proper pavement maintenance and prompt repairs prevent people being injured, and save the health service a huge amount of money.”
County Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Safety is always our top priority and if a trip hazard on a pavement in reported we will inspect it and, if necessary, make the area safe immediately and carry out a repair within days.
“As part of our wider plan to improve the condition of all our transport infrastructure and get best value for money from the limited resources available, we’ve identified the need to focus investment on pavements over the next two years, with the target of improving their overall condition by 2019/20.
“We’re already working towards this and have recently carried out detailed surveys of all pavements, with this data now being analysed to inform a programme of maintenance and investment beginning this year.
“We’ve taken the same data-led approach to improving A, B and C roads over the last two years which has been successful in bringing them into a better condition, and will be taking the same approach to improving pavements.” Lancashire County Council said resurfacing in Manor Lane, Penwortham, was affected by an unexpected heavy shower shortly after work was completed. There were signs warning people to avoid the wet tar, and nearby residents were informed of the work by letter, but the surface was damaged by people walking on it.
A council spokesman said: “The site was revisited soon afterwards for remedial work to address the problems. The work carried out on Manor Lane was a cost-effective treatment to seal the surface and extend its life, which is different to the work carried out on Cop Lane, where the surface had reached the end of its life and been entirely replaced.”