County Council Needs to Review Pothole Works

Oxfordshire County Council spends £2m on repairing potholes and believes they have a process that is adhered to by their contractors however that is not the case after our research.

We joined Councillor David Eggleton to look at a number of potholes which have recently been filled and will fail due to the workmanship.

After a pothole is reported through the Fix-My-Street website, OCC’s policy is to repair the pothole within 28 days. An investigation is done within 10 days of being reported. The pothole is marked with white paint if it is non-urgent and red if it is hazardous. If it is hazardous the repair will take place within 2-24 hours.

On all of the potholes that we looked at on Reading Road and Green Lane, the contractor had not cut out, sealed and levelled the tarmac to ensure that water ingress doesn’t happen which will cause the repair to fail in just a few months. David said, “When the water gets in and it freezes it then expands and breaks up tarmac.” We asked OCC if their contractors were doing temporary fixes where the tarmac was just dumped on top like the particularly bad one on Green Lane.

A statement from OCC said, “Over the past couple of years we have in the main changed the way we repair them. The vast majority (97%) are now cut square, joint sealed filled and compacted, to undertake a first time permanent fix.”

There are also many instances where there is another pothole just a few metres away that either does not get marked or filled when the contractors come out. David has asked contractors to fill in others when he has seen them working. He said, “I’ve pointed out others and they have said it is not in their remit to fill them if they are not marked.”

We asked do the inspectors/contractors review the road nearby to see if they should fill in any other potholes whilst they are there, therefore saving time and money. OCC responded to this by saying, “Yes, we encourage our contractors to operate a find and fix approach, so if there is a similar defect in the immediate vicinity that has not been previously marks, it is within their gift to repair it, assuming they have the time and material onboard to do so.”

The County Council said that they had also invested in a Dragon Patcher. Saying, “This machine is enabling the council to fill potholes at a reduced cost and therefore plays an important role in allowing us to repair higher numbers of potholes on more minor roads that it may not otherwise have been able to afford to repair in the past. The Dragon Patcher allows for a much more proactive approach to dealing with defects that do not yet meet the criteria for urgent repair. The council still retains traditional pothole repair where appropriate though.”

David said, “The last time the Dragon Patcher was seen in Henley was in 2017 when it was launched but unfortunately when it was used on St Andrews and the tarmac was melted it started to run down the road!”

Does OCC inspect their contractors’ works afterwards? OCC replied, “With approximately 30,000 defects repaired each year it would be unrealistic to be able to inspect every repair that is made. We do however inspect a random 10% generated by our system on a monthly basis. All defects repaired are required to have a before and after photograph taken, this gives the Council some surety that repairs have been undertaken to an acceptable standard.”

David concluded by saying, “We would welcome Sean Rooney, OCC Head of Highways to come and look and review their contractors’ poor repair work in Henley so that going forward we can save time and taxpayers’ money.”


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