potholes plague Marsh Lane in Nantwich

Roads across South Cheshire could get a whole lot worse next winter.

That’s the warning from Cheshire East Council Conservative Cllr George Walton who says not enough work has been done to patch up the borough’s roads after last winter.

Now he fears that time is running out to make them ready for the colder months ahead.

Thousands of drivers have criticised the state of the highways over the past six months, with major and minor routes plagued by potholes and poor surfacing.

Cllr Walton told this week’s council Scrutiny Committee: “I think personally that by the time winter comes again, we are going to be in a far worse situation next year than we’re in now, because we aren’t getting on with the job.

“A lot needs to be done out there because there are some terrible surfaces. There are a lot of surface defects where great patches need clearing off.

“Our guys are good at doing it, but there’s a lot more that needs doing, and a lot more needs doing quickly.

“Where I live on the Cheshire Plain temperatures were not that low. Minus five – that’s nothing.

“If we had the minus 20s like we have had in the past it could have been a lot worse.”

Cllr Walton added that Liverpool City Council is borrowing £185 million to repair roads while CEC is borrowing none – although he admitted he ‘doesn’t blame’ the council for wanting to keep borrowing down.

His comments came after the environment and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee had been given a presentation on a new national code of practice for inspecting and maintaining roads.

The committee was told that the Well Managed Highway Infrastructure code should “enhance” road maintenance in east Cheshire by prioritising roads based on the amount of traffic that uses them – including minor roads which are popular rat runs for drivers avoiding congestion.

CEC also has an additional £7 million set aside in this year’s budget for pothole repairs.

And Cllr Don Stockton, cabinet member for the environment, told the committee that the council’s approach to fixing the roads should be effective.

He said: “We signed off a budget and we’ve got more money this year as you’re well aware, so we have more money to throw at this problem.

“But it’s about spending money efficiently and effectively and spending it on a proper programme – an evidence-led programme of asset management.

“Essentially this code of practice is an enhancement of that which has gone before, albeit a bit more effective because it is more down to the traffic levels being taken into account.

“You could adopt the case of borrow loads of money and throw it at the problem, but it’s not the most efficient way of dealing with the roads.”

However, Cllr Nick Mannion, Labour member for Macclesfield West and Ivy, suggested roads needing urgent repair in housing estates could be at the bottom of the waiting list under the new code of practice.

He said: “We’re going to have these estates with managed decline, because they are never going to score enough points with the traffic levels, with the accident density, to justify rebuilding.

“It’s these little estate roads where people actually live. The A34, the A50, whatever – there is not a lot of people that live on those roads.”

A consultation on CEC’s road maintenance policy is expected to follow later this year, as the council works to become compliant with the new code of practice.

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