It’s only a couple of months since I wrote about potholes but there was an article in the national press recently about Mark Morrell (a road expert nicknamed Mr Pothole) who has advised a business owner in Staffordshire to issue a Section 56 Notice under the Highways Act.
It appears that with Mr Pothole’s help, they started the process leading to issuing of a Section 56 Notice and within a short period of time, 15 potholes were filled.
It is the duty of the highway authority to maintain public roads in such a state of repair as to be passable in safety at all seasons of the year.
If a member of the public considers that a highway is “out of repair” Section 56 enables them to apply to a magistrates' court for an order requiring the highway authority to put the highway back “in repair” within a specified time
The standard mantra from Oxfordshire County 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.
Yet as usual there is anecdotal evidence that our corner of the county suffers more than most.
One commercial driver who travels around Oxfordshire daily contacted me recently to inform me that Wantage and Grove have the worst roads in the County.
Other residents contacted me after the recent press comment and asked if we could use Section 56 of the Act here.
I suppose we could, but the article was about 15 potholes on one small stretch of road and we have many roads with potholes scattered across them, so which road should we pick.
We could try to find out which is the worst of all the roads in the area, but if that was repaired it would simply move the problem to the next road.
I guess that this area is bad because we have more concentrated house building than most of the County and so many more heavy goods vehicles on roads that weren’t designed for them.
When the County Council finally build the missing link on the Wantage Eastern Relief Road, that might take some of the traffic out of the centre of Wantage but it won’t help Mably Way or the Denchworth Road or any of the roads through Grove.