Lancashire man says he has been 'waiting 35 years' for proper pothole repairs in his road - and will vote for whoever can guarantee them
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Dave Carter has lived on Daffodil Close in Helmshore for 35 years and says he has been waiting for the surface of the street to be brought up to a decent standard ever since.
He claims that the cul-de-sac is currently a patchwork of patch-up jobs that last barely any time at all.
“One of the first things I said when we moved here was, ‘I hope they get this road sorted out soon’ - but I’m still waiting.
“They come and put blobs of tar in the potholes, a couple at a time - and usually when it’s raining. Within a few days, it all starts to break up again, especially in the winter when the frost and ice gets in.
“There are about a hundred defects, so that would be 50 visits they’d need to make at the current rate.
“It’s like we’ve been forgotten, because we are a side road - basically, we get the bins emptied and that’s it,” said Mr. Carter.
So when he was visited by the trio of candidates standing for election to County Hall in the Rossendale West division on Thursday, he told them that his vote would be determined by whoever he believed would deliver the smooth road to his home that he has been seeking for decades. He only wishes he knew for certain who that would be.
“The problem, of course, is that the person has to be elected before they can get the job done - it’s not like they can sort it out first and then we can elect them because they have done what they promised.
“They all told me they would make it a top priority and I said, “Well, I’ll vote for you, then’. But two of them also warned that things are tight with money - I appreciate that, but when you look at work being done elsewhere, it’s like we have been overlooked,” Mr. Carter said.
The scheduled work totals more than £18m across all classifications of road, plus a £3m ‘localised deterioration’ fund to rectify problems that are too big to be treated as a pothole but too small to merit a full resurfacing scheme.
Allocations from the latter pot will be prioritised on the basis of criteria including the number of defects, the complaints received about them and how many repeat visits have been required to rectify individual issues. The strategic significance of the route will also be taken into account.
David Stansfield, the current county councillor for the area, was part of the ruling Tory group for most of the eight years he has served at County Hall. However, he was suspended from the group earlier this year after voting against a council tax rise in the party's budget. He is now standing for re-election as an independent candidate.
“I’ve tried and tried to get this road repaired and all I've had for about two years is, ‘We’ll put it on the list’. Whether I get elected or not this week, I shall continue to fight for it - I made a promise to these residents that I would stick with them and I will do.
“If I was elected as an independent and wanted something done, [the council officers would have to] take as much notice of me as they would if I were in the Conservative or Labour parties.
“Someone is going to have an accident on that street or put in a big bill for damage to a vehicle. If somebody was to go on that road in a [mobility scooter] and have an accident, then there would be serious trouble.
“It’s beneficial for the county council to get the road done now,” County Cllr Stansfield said.
Laura-Beth Thompson, the Conservative candidate for the division, said historical issues with Lancashire’s highways were being addressed.
“For years, our roads have been let down by the county council not investing at the levels needed to deliver the improvements required. Over the last four years, this has begun to change under Conservative control and here in Rossendale our county councillors have worked hard to secure increased investment every year, reaching more than £2.6 million this year.
“Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to tackle every road that needs it, but I’m committed to fighting for every road in Rossendale West which needs resurfacing and, if elected, I will work immediately to raise the issues of poor remediation work on Daffodil Close. Over the last few weeks I have spoken to a number of residents on Daffodil Close and on behalf of the residents I have already logged this for urgent repair,” Ms. Thompson said.
Labour candidate Samara Barnes said that she had walked Daffodil Close with Mr. Carter and counted “dozens of potholes of various sizes”.
“Obviously, the current county councillor is standing as an independent, but he has been the Conservative [representative] for eight years and has, in effect, been responsible for those roads for that time. Mr Carter is pledging to vote for whoever can [get his road repaired], but I think County Cllr Stansfield has already demonstrated he can’t do it - so why would he do it on 7th May [the day after the elections]?
“I work to the rule 'deeds not words' and I’ve got a list of jobs I’m determined to get done if I’m voted in.
“I actually wrote to [the highways department] after visiting Daffodil Close - because what really struck me is that these more residential roads seem to be getting forgotten. Those people are paying council tax exactly the same as everybody else, so they deserve to have their roads [looked after] as much as everywhere else,” Ms. Barnes said.
Potholes have become a hot topic in the county council elections, with the subject prompting clashes between the main parties at a leaders’ debate ahead of the poll.
Conservative deputy council leader Keith Iddon said that the ruling group was investing record amounts in highways and that the government recognised Lancashire for being one of the best-performing local authorities for road repairs.
However, his Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party opponents rounded on the standard of work being done to fix the county's potholes, condemning it, respectively, as “appalling”, “inadequate” and “not good enough”.
Responding to Mr. Carter’s comments, a spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: "We are aware of this area of deterioration on Daffodil Close and will be assessing it alongside other priorities for inclusion in a future maintenance programme. In the meantime we will continue monitoring it and carry out any repairs which may be needed for safety.
"A resurfacing scheme will be needed to repair the damage to Daffodil Close, however we will repair any potholes which appear until this can be programmed, and whenever they visit our repair teams will fix all validated defects which meet our intervention level in the immediate area.
"Improving the A, B and C roads which are most vital to our economy has been the focus of the first phase of our long term maintenance plan for Lancashire's roads. The current phase of the Transport Asset Management Plan will see a greater focus on residential roads with the aim of bringing them into better condition over the next four to five years."
ROSSENDALE WEST CANDIDATE LIST
Samara Barnes - Labour Party
David Stansfield - Independent
Laura-Beth Thompson - Conservative and Unionist Party