A North London council is set to deploy a ‘pothole squad’ as it rolls out a £240,000 programme to fix road defects across the borough including the use of a new machine. Harrow Council believes the scheme will be ‘transformational’ but a report on the plan was slammed as a ‘waffle’ by the opposition.
Last year, the government announced £8.3 million of extra funding for road maintenance across England over the next ten years. Harrow will receive £241,000 for next year and a further £241,000 for the following year.
The council’s highways contractor, JB Riney, will assemble a new ‘pothole squad’ to find and fix potholes quickly throughout the borough. Using the new £165,000 Pothole Pro JCB machine, repair work can be carried out in eight minutes.
Pothole Pro’s thermal infra-red technology is a permanent repair that recycles the existing surface material and creates minimal waste. The council suggests this new approach will ensure the fixes are ‘long lasting, more sustainable, and reduce net emissions’. The machine is marketed as one that can ‘cut, crop and clean’ the road surface, effectively chopping out the defective section and refilling it with fresh tarmac, before cleaning up any mess. Due to its size, the JCB is suitable for main roads and others that are wide enough to accommodate it, but it would struggle to get down some smaller residential roads.
The report was submitted and approved by the cabinet at a recent meeting (24 January). The council claim it will mean ‘fixing more potholes than ever before’ after more than 1,500 have been repaired over the past 12 months. The pothole squad will roll out a ‘find and fix’ approach, a strategy that the council believes will improve results as it is not having to rely on inspection reports or customer complaints.
Cabinet Member for Highways, Infrastructure and Community Safety, Cllr Anjana Patel, told the cabinet: “A lot of work and thought has gone into this report for a long, long time[…] We are keen to start repairing potholes and roads across the borough with this technology as soon as possible.”
Opposition councillor, Peymana Assad called the report ’11 pages of waffle’ that someone spent the weekend ‘frantically typing up’, as well as criticising its late publication. Cllr Patel hit back, stating that the report was ‘only two days late’ and the council took time to make sure it was something it wanted to do.
Harrow Council leader, Cllr Paul Osborn, said: “We have committed to fixing and resurfacing over 60 highways and footways, and we are putting this money into potholes. I think it will be a transformational service in the borough, enabling us to do things we have not been able to do before and to fix roads we’ve not been able to fix before.”
Cllr Osborn claimed he had been lobbying the government to provide this extra funding to London boroughs, which weren’t previously getting it, as he felt this was unfair in Harrow particularly as it has no Transport for London (TfL) roads and is responsible for all their maintenance.
He added: “I was very pleased that the government responded positively to our lobbying and that we get this money. I think it will make a really big difference.”