Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The State of Southampton's Roads

Southampton's roads are in a dreadful state. Last week councillors of all political parties were given a presentation on just how bad they are and possible solutions for the future.

There is an estimated £50m backlog in road repairs and each year, despite additional investment, the roads are deteriorating. The situation is getting worse, not better.

The state of the roads and pavements is a key concern to local people and rightly so. What is needed from the politicians is honesty.

The council is not in a position to reverse years of neglect using local taxation alone. Significant extra money is going to be needed from external sources.

The council has recently submitted a bid to government for £300m of PFI money to tackle our roads. It is expected that the bid will be unsuccessful. We all know the money tends to go to Labour's heartlands in the north and our local Labour MPs have no influence with government and consistently fail to lobby on behalf of the city.

Labour locally are promising in their election literature to repair a mile of road a week. This sounds impressive and I don't know how they have calculated the figure. What I do know is that in their city council budget proposals in February they proposed to spend the least of the 3 parties on repairs to the roads and last year they voted to cut the pot hole repair gangs.

Conservatives by contrast have pledged extra money. We would also spend the money more sensibly. Rather than wasting it on gold plating areas like Portswood Broadway, moronic schemes like the one in London Road and pointless pavement widening exercises we would address the roads that most need fixing.

The council needs to consider bringing in private sector expertise and experience to help us use our budgets more effectively. We also need to keep looking out for additional sources of funds from government and be quick to apply for such money.

Labour are forcing an extra £16,200 homes on Southampton over the next 20 years but they are not supplying the funding needed to support these extra homes (roads and other services).

A change of government is the best hope for Southampton, or at the very least we need MPs who will speak out for the city.


Nico said...

Dear Jeremy

I couldn;t agree more that roads in Southampton do need repair. However, What really concerns me is the quality of any repair. One example is Queen's Terrace. It has been completely resurfaced a couple of years ago. The state of the asphalt now is terrible. Yes, we do have heavy traffic but I'd expact that this should be taken into account.

But I still believe that it would be more sensible to spent more money on alternatives, like an excellent (with proper maintainance) cycle network. It certainly wouldn't need £300m.


Jeremy Moulton said...

Absolutely agree we shouldn't be doing a shoddy job. There needs to be an appropriate balance between temporary repairs and properly relaying new roads. It's important that balance is right given the limited resources avaialable.

£300m would be over the lifetime of a PFI contract - maybe 20 years. Certainly lots of extra money is needed.

We need to join up cycle networks wherever possible. I have just had an enquiry about what can be done along Shirley High Street, which I am looking into.

Anonymous said...

I think the London road scheme will be a big improvement compared to the current situation with poorly maintained footpaths and poor pedestrian crossongs. However I believe more money should be spent resurfacing roads such as shirley road/high street, paynes road, the avenue etc


Anonymous said...

why is money being wasted on the junction Northlands Road and the Avenue - huge traffic islands which will cause difficulties for cars trying to get in and out of the junction - with every potential for prangs with cars on the Avenue who will not understand how difficult it will be for cars to get into northlands road. The pavement on the south side is being widened when it is already the width of three pavements. The only problem at that junction was and is the crazy cyclists who come off the Common at speed and refuse to wait to cross the road - simply speeding across regards of cars or pedestrians. Complete waste of money.