I asked several people what I should feature in the column this week and the answer was unanimous – potholes.
Most of the roads in Oxfordshire are the responsibility of Oxfordshire County Council.
The exceptions are the A34, A43 and the M40 (the responsibility of National Highways), the roads in Oxford City (delegated to the City Council) and roads not adopted by the County Council (mainly smaller access roads within developments).
The County Council is responsible for the maintenance of more than 4,500 km of roads in Oxfordshire.
In February this year the County Council admitted that, as in other parts of the UK, the condition of the road network has deteriorated over recent years as government funding has not kept up with need.
But repairing potholes in such a way that they reappear very quickly and therefore need repairing again isn’t something they can blame the government for.
The standard mantra from the Council is to report any defects via fixmystreet.com preferably with photographs.
They say that they have a limited budget to maintain roads, paths and cycle paths, so they prioritise fixing reported potholes based on the risk that they pose to all road users.
This means that they may repair one pot-hole but leave the slightly smaller one next to it unrepaired, because it’s not quite as much of a risk to traffic.
There are individuals in each community called “Super Users”, who are volunteers who help the County Council to highlight defects. They can identify defects with white paint then report them on fixmystreet.com.
If you suffer hurt or your vehicle is damaged as a result of a highway defect you can put a claim in for compensation but the question is whether it could and should have been fixed.
If it has been reported on Fixmystreet.com then that demonstrates that the County know about the defect.
You may have to prove the pothole caused the damage so a report from the mechanic (or medic) or timed photographs of the pothole and the damage may be a good start.
Oxfordshire County Council currently spends more than £2 million each year repairing potholes but doesn’t report how much it pays in compensation for damages caused by highway defects.
As I mentioned last week, the County are prioritising walking, wheeling, cycling, etc. ahead of motor vehicles. So perhaps by not repairing potholes they are encouraging us to walk.