Julie Cooper MP: Dangerous roads, another consequence of austerity
The worrying fact is that many of our roads are in such a poor state that they present a genuine threat to the safety of all road users, says Julie Cooper MP.
The road users of Lancashire are paying the price of extensive cuts in Local Government Grants. Eight years of savage funding cuts have inevitably taken their toll on all the services provided by the County Council. Libraries, community centres, adult social care, children’s services have all been affected and now most obviously highway maintenance. The roads in my constituency of Burnley are in a dreadful state. The neglect is plain for all to see. Small potholes have been largely ignored and further wear and tear together with winter weather has led to the development of potholes that are large and deep. In many places these are extended and now form trenches leaving roads that more closely resemble those in developing nations.
The situation though has little to do with aesthetics and everything to do with safety. The worrying fact is that many of our roads are in such a poor state that they present a genuine threat to the safety of all road users. Elderly pedestrians, those with prams or wheel chairs risk injury crossing these damaged roads. The deep holes present a serious danger for cyclists and motorcyclists. Perhaps those most affected are motorists who routinely sustain damage to their vehicles. The alternative for them is to swerve to avoid the potholes and this is increasingly difficult as the number of potholes continue to grow. Swerving vehicles do themselves pose a real danger and if really feels like it is only a matter of time before a serious accident occurs.
Since 2010 funding to Lancashire County Council has been cut by millions of pounds and I do understand that the financial pressures faced by the authority but their current approach of burying their heads in the sand and refusing to acknowledge the scale of the problem makes no economic sense. It really is a case of a stitch in time saving nine. Their constant unwillingness to properly repair the roads is exacerbating the situation and is necessitating more expensive works.
My chief focus in all this has been and will continue to be the impact on the safety of my constituents however it is also a fact the failure to adequately maintain the roads is economically damaging and is negatively impacting on Burnley’s businesses as all traffic is slowed and workers spend more time travelling to and from work. This is no way to support business. This is no way to increase the nation’s productivity.
This Thursday is National Pothole Day and I genuinely regret the need for such a campaign but I do sincerely hope that the Lancashire County Council is listening and poised to take remedial action.
Julie Cooper is Labour MP for Burnley.