A senior councillor has warned that expectations over road repairs need to be managed, after it was revealed that nearly £30 million is needed to bring Wrexham’s highways up to scratch.
The stark figure came during a meeting of the homes and environment committee yesterday afternoon, where members had been asked to scrutinise the state of roads across the county borough.
Wrexham Council is responsible for 1,140km of carriageways across the county borough – of which 623 km are classified (A, B and C roads), 688 km are classified as being rural and 296 km are classified as urban unclassified.
Figures presented at yesterday’s meeting show that 72.1% of A roads and 74.9% B roads in Wrexham are in good condition.
However this drops down to 49.0% for the borough’s C roads and 48.5% for U roads.
Wrexham Council’s chief officer for environment, Darren Williams told committee members that an estimated £28 million is needed to repair all the lengths of roads in Wrexham which have been identified as being in a poor or deteriorating condition.
However a total of £2.3 million is needed each year just to keep the status quo and maintain a steady state in the condition of the existing network.
Mr Williams also explained that on average roads across Wales can expected to be resurfaced on average every 59 years – which far exceeds the 20 year “life expectancy” of a good standard carriageway.
However concerns were raised about the state of the county’s C and unclassified roads, with Offa councillor Alun Jenkins pointing out that some of the local road network will not last 59 years.
He said: “There can be an expectation from residents that any defects in the roads are being dealt with.
“If it’s a reported pothole we fill it with tarmac, then we have frosts and traffic going over them. Within a couple of months we are back to where we were and the needs to be done again.
“It seems to be our priorities aren’t right. We have dealt with problems in A and B class roads, but we are not dealing with unclassified or C class roads.
“Looking at backlog needed on unclassified roads, we are not tackling that.”
Mr Williams explained that it is a “balancing act to get the investment correct” and that the department needs to “make sure it doesn’t take the eye off the ball with the strategic network while making a judgement on lower category roads.”
In terms of potholes Mr Williams later noted that “sometimes we haven’t got the cash to do full repair, but we can patch them” with a bucket of tarmac.
It was also acknowledged that the “crude” work often meant that the fix was short-lived and the issue could return within a matter of weeks or months – despite taking away the immediate risk.
Smithfield councillor Adrienne Jeorrett said she was worried about the public perception and questioned how Wrexham Council are going to deal with the “ongoing issue”.
She added: “It is good to be positive and telling people the great news is fantastic. However it doesn’t match up with what they’re seeing.”
Cllr David A Bithell, lead member for environment and transport, acknowledged that is important to get the message across to residents – adding that “no will become more of an answer than yes” to requests for road repairs and the like going forward.
He said: “The difficulty were are facing as a council is over the last few years we have saved in the region of £52m. We have continued to invest and prioritise where appropriate.
“The expectations of residents are really high and amongst elected members. I think across the county borough expectations have risen despite the cut backs.”
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