LIBERAL Democrat councillors in Basingstoke have said that there has been a decade of broken promises for Basingstoke’s residents when it comes to road maintenance.

Cllr Andy Konieczko (Brighton Hill North) and Cllr Gavin James (Group Leader, Eastrop) said that Hampshire County Council need invest more money in tackling potholes in the borough, calling on the council to fix Basingstoke’s ‘pothole plague’.

Cllr Konieczko said: “We’ve had a number of broken promises from Hampshire County Council when it comes to our road network over the past decade. First we had ‘Operation Restore’ to futureproof our roads to ensure they can withstand more frequent extreme weather conditions. Then we had ‘Operation Resilience’, a long-term plan of action to improve the strength and condition of Hampshire’s roads. But it hasn’t worked - after many years of Tory failed initiatives, the Council has been forced to admit that the highway network is heading downhill.”

Cllr Konieczko says that the worst road in his ward is Sullivan Road, a key route in Brighton Hill that connects Brighton Way and Asda with Chalk Ridge Primary school and Hatch Warren Way.

“I was driving along there on Sunday and was zig zagging around the potholes,” he added. “Every ward councillor would probably have their own top pick.

“The clue is in the highways experts’ report where they point the finger at ‘financial pressure’. This is officer speak for ‘lack of funding’. Tory cuts are cuts; they’re not ‘efficiencies’. There are a growing number of potholes that are taking longer and longer to repair because of insufficient funding to keep our roads in a good state of repair. Just drive along Sullivan Road in Brighton Hill, and you’ll see what I mean.“Come on Conservatives: we’ve had more than enough of your pothole bluster. We don’t want to know how much money you’re spending, because it’s not enough. What we want to know is, why can’t you repair potholes within a few weeks, rather than in a few months? Actions speak louder than words and the silence is deafening.”

Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “Following the wettest Autumn for 100 years, followed by record rainfall and storms in February, it’s a challenge dealing with the damage that’s been done to Hampshire’s 5,500 miles of road.

“The position is compounded by years of underfunding for highways maintenance by successive governments, which has led to a significant decline in the condition of the local road network despite us trying to plug the funding gap from local resources with an extra £10 million each year for our Operation Resilience programme. I believe we do a good job with the funding we have, the money only goes so far, and the recent wet weather and flooding has added significantly to the damage and deterioration of the roads. The last time flooding hit Hampshire in 2014, it caused an additional £40 million worth of damage to the network and all the indications are that this winter will have a similar impact Sometimes, we have to do temporary repairs to make the road safe. It is also very difficult to make an effective permanent repair in these wet conditions where groundwater levels are exceptional.

“The County Council has recently committed an extra £5 million from local resources for highways maintenance in the next financial year which we will be using to blitz potholes and defects with find and fix gangs. However, this is a national problem, as reported in the Transport Select Committee’s report into local roads funding last June. This quoted the annual Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey which estimated that it would take 10 years to get local roads back into a reasonable ‘steady state’, and that that the cost of a one-time ‘catch up’ to deal with the maintenance backlog would cost £9.8 billion, approximately £70 million per authority in England and £32 million per London authority.”

The council announced at a budget meeting last month that they would spend an extra £3m on repairing the roads.