Local roads identified as priority for repair

Craig Browne (2)

Cheshire East Council has published details of its highways repair programme for the financial year 2021/22.

Councillor Craig Browne, Chair of the Highways and Transport Committee said "Unfortunately, this year sees a 21% reduction (£3.9m) in the level of funding the council receives from the Department for Transport to repair and maintain the road network on its behalf.

"Whilst the reduction in government funding is disappointing, Cheshire East Council has attempted to make good the shortfall this year by investing £3m from its own capital budget - essentially your Council Tax."

Cllr Browne continued "Whilst the added investment from your Council Tax has helped, the table* above clearly shows a fall in investment in the highways network this year and this inevitably means that Cheshire East Highways will be able to repair and maintain fewer roads this year than last year. Nevertheless, I have been working hard to ensure that some of our local roads do make it onto this year's list."

Macclesfield Road and Knutsford Road (from the Brook Lane Roundabout to the Ward Boundary) in Alderley Edge have both scored highly being ranked 23rd and 25th on the list respectively.

Whilst in Wilmslow, Cumber Lane and Holly Road North have also scored highly being ranked 27th and 33rd on the list.

Cllr Browne said "There is a realistic expectation that repairs will be carried out on both routes and this should be confirmed in about 6 weeks time. London Road (between Heyes Lane and Macclesfield Road) is the next highest, ranked in 55th place."

Roads are assessed across the borough in line with the Dept for Transport's required criteria, which are: engineer/local councillor priority; road condition; number of defects per scheme; number of customer service requests (complaints) per scheme; claims per scheme; and scheme location.

Click here to view this year's list of assessed roads on page 3 (ranked in terms of score).

*                                                   2020-21          2021-22

Central Government Funding    19,002,000     15,051,000

Council Investment Top Up        1,700,000       3,000,000

Budget                                        20,702,000     18,051,000

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

David Hoyle
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 3:34 pm
Will they be repaired properly or just patched up like a lot of roads in the area.
Anthony Round
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 4:08 pm
Yet again no action for Cedarway, Fulshaw Park!!!
The worst road in Wilmslow gets absolutely no attention. It is now worse than ever and dangerous.
Thank you to Mr D Jeffery our ROW councillor for making so many promises but achieving absolutely nothing to help to get the appalling road surface repaired.
Very very disappointed.
Tony & Joan Round
Clive Cooksey
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 4:31 pm
Cheshires highway are an utter disgrace. The road between Wilmslow & Knutsford resembles a first world war battlefield in parts. Shame on you. And dont forget the lousy pavements. I have already taken a nasty fall on the uneven surface of Hawthorn Lane, Wilmslow. I asked my MP to intervene, but that came to no avail. If all the roads and pavements were renovated to the correct standard after years of neglect it would take the entire Cheshire budget and more. Hang your heads Councillors in shame, no matter what party you represent
Raymond James Wallace
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 5:06 pm
I’d like to put the flooding on Macclesfield Road Wilmslow forward, it’s been an ongoing problem for 10 years, when it has a heavy downpour it completely covered the whole road and when the traffic ploughs through the flood the water enters our garages leaving slutch and debris all over the path and on numerous occasions inches from entering the house. Cheshire East are well aware but nothing has been done. So with the reduction in funds I won’t hold my breath. Obviously it’s not a pothole problem, but it’s a big problem to me and my neighbours.
Raymond Walker
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 5:22 pm
This is potential good news but as David Hoyle asks will they be properly repaired or might it be more sticking plaster? Roads need good drainage yet about 80% of Wilmslow’s grids are silted up and blocked due to no maintenance. Unless regular gulley cleaning takes place in- house, and not contracted out, all the effort of Victorian engineers showing us how to maintain our roads is wasted. Councillors need to take off their jackets, get to work and not think that they do good by writing documents, and instead apply both logic and common sense.
Raymond Walker
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 5:22 pm
This is potential good news but as David Hoyle asks will they be properly repaired or might it be more sticking plaster? Roads need good drainage yet about 80% of Wilmslow’s grids are silted up and blocked due to no maintenance. Unless regular gulley cleaning takes place in- house, and not contracted out, all the effort of Victorian engineers showing us how to maintain our roads is wasted. Councillors need to take off their jackets, get to work and not think that they do good by writing documents, and instead apply both logic and common sense.
Audrey Youngman
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 6:21 pm
What about Hall Road in Handforth which is heavily used with school traffic to St. Benedicts.
Vince Chadwick
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 6:39 pm
If you open the PDF in the piece it shows that there will be some resurfacing elsewhere in Cheshire, even one reconstruction. But in Wilmslow, it's just 'patching' I'm afraid.

The root problem, the reason the roads have got into the state they have and why there is not the money to do a real repair job is government policy. Year on year the road maintenance budget has been cut under government 'austerity'. So you know who to blame.
David Smith
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 7:50 pm
Please can someone put me right and explain all about this 'council' stuff when referring to issues such as road repairs?
It used to be, a long time ago, that we paid our council tax [rates, community charge or whatever] to our local council and 'they' - or I suppose 'we' - got some money from the government as well. It could therefore be argued that as this was mostly out of our taxes [income, vat etc] too so really we ended up funding it all one way or another. Our Council then used it to do all sorts of things in the places where we live by an army of people employed by the Council and referred to as council employees.
Now in the case of local roads/highways I don’t think it works like this nowadays. I mean, much work seems to be done by Ringway Jacobs - so just who are these guys and why does our Council’ give them so much of our Council Tax? Have a look at this link to their website: https://www.ringway-jacobs.co.uk/our-story#whoweare

Then scroll down and see that along with Essex CC they provide Cheshire East with all our highways work too.
So as I see it when we hear ‘THE COUNCIL’ we should think RINGWAY JACOBS. Again looking through their website in the ABOUT US bit, they appear to have two names under OUR SHAREHOLDERS - Eurovia Vinci & Jacobs. Eurovia Vinci doesn’t sound very ‘home grown’ and delving into the JACOBS [based in Reston, Virginia, USA] website further I can’t help be impressed by the sum of their capabilities and level of expertise in all manner of things. It does make me wonder, however, if Cheshire East Council is handing over money [our taxes] for something that perhaps we could and should be doing ourselves? I mean, we aren’t asking them to build a suspension bridge, or put a satellite into space or build a railway. We just want some rather mundane stuff done in the town where we live that in years gone by seemed to get done pretty well as far as I remember. What seems to have happened - if I can use an analogy - is this. Suppose you used to get a local taxicab to go to the supermarket a couple of times a week for shopping. Then someone managed to convince you that you would be better off with an internationally based company offering a chauffeur-driven service using Rolls Royce and Bentley cars instead. I mean you would travel in style, be treated better and as the cars have a bigger boot you can do more shopping even though you don’t have the money. In addition to the chauffeur there would be someone to open the door for you, put a blanket round your knees if a bit chilly and then push your trolley round the supermarket and place it all in the back of the Rolls. If required they would come into your home and put all the shopping away after making a cup of tea or pouring a G&T. All of which sounds really nice but really OTT, unnecessary and poor value for money.
So what is Ringway Jacobs doing for ‘we’ Council Tax Payers that the good old Cheshire Council of old wasn’t able to do? I have to laugh at the mention in the link below” …

https://www.jacobs.com/

…past the bit where they say - We tackle the world's toughest challenges - to the claim in the WATER section - “As global supply and demand for water intensifies, solving the world’s most complex water challenges demands different thinking – and that’s where we come in.”
How come therefore that the roads around here flood so often when it rains a bit much and many of the drains and gulleys are still blocked after many years - AND how it took so long to fix the flooding on Alderley Road near the bypass roundabout? If it HAS been finally fixed that is!
Wasn’t our Council of old able to send a couple of men out with a few basic tools to sort these things out in little time [including several tea breaks] at a fraction of the cost?
I mean what has happened? Why suddenly do we need the worldwide depth of hi-tech expertise from an International company based overseas to come to little old Cheshire East and fix a few jobs for us?
Another thing too. These guys probably have a complex financial structure that sees quite a lot of shareholders and ‘needy’ persons getting a rather good salary. All of which might provide some employment for a band of employees but whose paying for all that and is it necessary?
I mean if our road repair budget for next year as Councillor Browne says is £18m and the new cycle path that he has just opened on Alderley Road cost £1m I can’t see many road repairs being sorted, can you? Although to be fair, the cycle route does have a wildflower verge, a refurbished bench and a new bus shelter after the old was donated to Wilmslow Rugby Club.
So why do you think our Cheshire East Council appears to be a bit short of funds at the moment.
One solution would be for us all to pay more in local taxes so that Craig Browne can hand it over to the likes of Ringway Jacobs.
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 7:59 pm
Much will depend on CEC definition of a pothole. It varies from one council to another, eg size and depth.
From memory, CEC definition isn’t very generous.
David Jefferay
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 8:00 pm
@Tony Round, I understand your frustration as I share it (not only about your road but about the declining state of all the roads in Wilmslow).

However, I don't recall ever having promised anything other than to try my best, which I believe I have done.

Apologies if we didn't discuss it but I thought we'd had a discussion where I explained that I had studied the criteria and found that most of the factors determining which roads are selected for works are out of my control and the only factor which I could influence was adverse press and reporting of potholes. In an attempt to influence that factor I had articles published in the Wilmslow Guardian, on social media sites, and on this site...

https://www.wilmslow.co.uk/news/article/19897/it-is-clearly-in-state-of-disrepair-but-i-cannot-see-how-it-will-ever-be-prioritised

I made CEC highways aware of these press articles so they were noted and I lobbied the highways officers and the then Highways Portfolio holder and his successor (my latest attempt at raising it being just a month or so ago).

I also submitted numerous pothole reports for Cedarway (I had a recurring reminder in my diary for each evening for months to remind me to submit them). I expect you did likewise.

I'm sorry that you're disappointed in my efforts but I can assure you that, given the many competing priorities I have for my limited time available for council duties, I have spent a disproportionate amount of time on Cedarway.
Chris Neill
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 8:12 pm
There must be a better way of doing this. The roads are a dangerous , life threatening shambles and a bit of money is thrown in as a patch up until next winter. Existing holes and defects are just made worse by huge trucks roughshodding over them. They don’t care, it doesn’t matter to them. It does to us though, the paying public,using them daily, cyclists , older cars , new cars , all made to travel on roads the Romans would be ashamed of. I don’t believe the people responsible for this disaster in our towns and country realise how bad it is, even though they themselves must see the problem, some places are like bomb craters. If you try and sue , you are faced with a huge paperwork nightmare, totally suggesting that they will do anything they can to put you off trying to get a fair reaction to the burst tyre, or replacement wheel spring. What an insult the whole issue is to civilised people. It needs a massive input or a champion to change these pathetic short term fixes locally and nationally. Everybody knows that roads are fundamental to our lives but we put up with it...why ?
David Jefferay
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 8:33 pm
@ David Smith I don't know how long ago it was when the highways maintenance was undertaken in-house but Ringway Jacobs took over management of the network in 2011 from BAM Nuttall and they were awarded another contract in 2018.

https://www.wilmslow.co.uk/news/article/4281/new-company-appointed-to-look-after-our-roads

https://www.wilmslow.co.uk/news/article/17998/council-approves-new-600m-highways-contract

I suspect somewhere in the dim and distant past promises of efficiencies and removal of overheads by getting rid of in-house functions was made (probably on the advice of some consultants) and highways maintenance was outsourced.

However, re cllr Browne, even the latest contract was awarded by the previous administration and was for 15 years (I believe with a break clause at 7 years) so Cllr Browne was not responsible for it. I do believe though the contract is being looked at to see if there are any ways that some of the issues we are all aware of can be corrected.

Regarding the other point you raise about Alderley road, that Work was funded by a grant from elsewhere and could only be used for that purpose. It could not be used for general highways maintenance.

Hope that helps.
Paul Millett
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 8:35 pm
If you want perfect roads and footpaths be prepared for temporary traffic lights and diversions etc. all over Wilmslow. Should give the co2 emissions a nice boost.
Also, as the country has just provided £300 billion plus in Covid support how much more income tax are you prepared to pay to have nice smooth roads on which you can speed to your hearts content?
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 9:11 pm
Every government for the past few decades has under funded road repairs. They have all underspent and pushed the problem into next year, hoping people won't notice.

However, you can only do that for so long. Now our roads are a national disgrace and people are noticing. The Conservative Party manifesto for the 2019 general election recognised this problem and promised:

- We will launch the biggest ever pothole-filling programme as part of our National Infrastructure Strategy – and our major investment in roads will ensure new potholes are much less likely to appear in the future.

While the government has recently funded new cycle lanes, this money seems to have come at the expense of general road maintenance funding, which they have cut. Therefore, we can only hope that having recognised their role in fixing the problem, the government soon delivers on their promise.

In the meantime, Cheshire East has a limited budget and is tied into an outsourced highways maintenance contract with Ringway Jacobs for at least another 4 years (it was a 15 year deal signed in 2018 but with a break clause after 7 years). However, we have asked them to investigate trials of a new JCB road repair machine. It prepares potholes ready for filling in about 10% of the time it normally takes. Therefore, we want to see if we can make repairs faster / better /cheaper, so making our limited budget go much further.

As for gully cleaning, these are now done on a routine basis. After being elected, we got Cheshire East to increase the one gully clearing lorry for the north of the borough to three lorries. This allowed us to introduce a routine maintenace programme to clear gullies every three years. Wilmslow's were done last year but some problems still remain eg Bourne St. Speaking with residents there last week, this gully used to flood, stopped when it was emptied last year but soon began to flood again. Therefore it seems likely there is a partial blockage in the drain. United Utilities own the drains, so we have to request they unblock them, which they do at their leisure. So please let your councillor know of any similar problems, so we can push our Highways department and/or United Utilities to get them fixed for you ASAP.


Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Wilmslow West & Chorley
Alan Brough
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 9:25 pm
@ Paul Millet,

I fully agree.

Look at the “temporary traffic lights” on Brook Lane. They’ve been there for over six months and not a stroke of work has been done.

Rumour has it that the Council are in a stand-off with a property owner about responsibility - meanwhile local motorists have to sit and wait and the ozone layer gets ever thinner.
Anthony Round
Wednesday 19th May 2021 at 10:17 pm
It is sad that if Councillor Jeffery has spent a “disproportionate” amount of his council time on Cedarway it is now far far worse than when he started.
Cheshire East must be one of the worst councils in the country and it and its officers hiding behind petty excuses bureaucracy is a disgrace.
Tony Round
Michael Thorley
Thursday 20th May 2021 at 6:43 am
Thankyou CEC for attempting to do your best.

In case it is helpful for many wondering why roads don't get repaired as we would like or other services are being delivered by non local providers it's worth noting that decisions made by us voters at General and Local elections have different and unintended consequences.

I applaud CEC for spelling out the situation of a 21% real terms permanent cut from the Central Governemt (CG) pot. A decision supported by the vast majority of the population in the last General Election.

The 21% cut is a CG decision based on policies of a government elected in a General Election. It has gradually been decreasing over the last few years and the main form of CG funding to local councils is/has now ended permanently.

At a local level CEC then have to fund the money from somewhere else. They are limited in how they can raise funds. In this case CEC have had to make a decision to use capital funds (their savings). That cannot have been easy. Their other options include raising business rates, council tax or finding sources of income from elsewhere.

We also all know that Councils have to evidence value for money as a major (but not only) criteria when they assess and award public contracts. Whilst there may be evidence of mistakes made (we all make them), overall Councils generally get it right.

At a local election is where we can influence how a council delivers its services and what it choosss to spend the money on. That is in addition to the many statutory obligations the council must fulfil.

The point of writing this note (which may well have some inaccuracies in it) is to acknowledge BOTH the attempts of local politicians representing their people AND the reality of funding.

Importantly it is to state, what I hope is now very apparent, the impact of voting at local AND national elections. The state of the roads we see (in this case) is a direct reflection of how we each voted. And in our system each and every vote can make ALL the difference. Not voting for whatever reason usually delivers what you don't want rather than what you do.
Terry Roeves
Thursday 20th May 2021 at 8:01 am
So please don’t be surprised that Ringway Jacobs have an agreed definition of what constitutes to pothole for repair and that it doesn’t meet your criteria.
Have CEC criteria changed? Do they need to?
Stuart Redgard
Thursday 20th May 2021 at 11:27 am
Thank you Michael Thorley for a breath of fresh air. I couldn’t have put it better. However, I think that there might be one small inaccuracy relating to business rates.

The following three paragraphs relating to council tax and business rates are all taken from the website of the Local Government Association.

Council tax and business rates together make up local authorities’ largest source of income. Central government has a significant degree of control over both council tax and business rates in England and sets the policy framework in which both operate.

A council tax is set by each individual authority and authorities are able to retain all of the funding raised from council tax in their area to support their budget.

Business rates are set by central government. Currently local government, collectively retains half of the income from business rates, the other half is paid by councils to central government, which uses the income to fund grants to local authorities.


See: https://tinyurl.com/db86sxt8
Terry Roeves
Thursday 20th May 2021 at 3:53 pm
https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/pdf/highways/policies-and-standards-documents/cec-highway-safety-inspection-cop-2013-v2.1.pdf#page=17

Useful pics in Annex p17 onward. Depth limits given as >100mm, then 50-100mm. Inspections and agreements needed internally and then with Ringway Jacobs. These are clearly a nightmare just to get a job started, let alone completed.
And that’s before CEC has to find the money. A vote winner if a Cllr can come up with a solution.
Mark Goldsmith
Thursday 20th May 2021 at 3:56 pm
Hi Alan

Yes, we are pushing the owners to get the wall fixed on Brook Lane. The wall is unstable, so could topple onto someone. Therefore, the path has been moved onto the road to ensure pedestrians safety. This reduces the road width, hence the traffic lights, even though no workmen are there.

We are pushing for this to get rectified but with the law courts bogged down following the lockdown, this is taking far longer than usual.

Hi Anthony
I agree that Cedarway is in a very bad state but I also feel this is only half the story. The only access to this cul-de-sac is through the private road section of Fulshaw Park South. Frankly this part looks like it has been bombed. Therefore, fixing Cedarway would still leave its residents with the far greater issue of driving round the deep and dangerous craters on the privately owned section.

Cheshire East's limited road repair budget is spent based on set criteria. Councillors recommending the road adds 40 points out of the 300 needed to qualify for resurfacing. So yes we have some influence, but not too much. This keeps the system fair rather than allow councillors to prioritise their favoured streets. Under this system, busy roads will always get more points than cul-de-sacs though, as more people benefit from the expenditure.

Therefore, I fear that no-through-roads like Cedarway and Kings Close on my ward, while in desperate need of resurfacing, will regularly lose out to far busier roads. Only when the government injects its much needed funding will we be able to extend the work program to cover these very deserving but much quieter roads.
James MacDonald
Thursday 20th May 2021 at 8:42 pm
If you want to ensure pedestrians safety then you need bollards on every pavement to stop drivers illegally driving on the pavement to park, sometimes forcing pedestrians into the road and making it nigh on impossible for anyone in a wheelchair. Secondly you need to ban pedestrians from walking whilst staring at their phones, protecting them from their own stupidity.
Jon Williams
Friday 21st May 2021 at 9:10 am
James: Re: "ban pedestrians from walking whilst staring at their phones, protecting them from their own stupidity."

Samsung are onto that, with the new 6G you will be able to just look at your phone all the time when going from A to B, the phone tells you when it's safe to cross, when you are getting close to someone else on a footpath it will send a invisible barrier shield around the user so other people can not bump into them and when driving it tells you when to indicate as well.
David Smith
Friday 21st May 2021 at 7:19 pm
MARK GOLDSMITH:
Reference Alan Brough and the Brook Lane dangerous wall requiring temporary traffic lights. I have no idea what this is all about but if, as you say, a wall is in danger of falling down and topple onto someone I don't really see a solution is under way. How can moving a pathway INTO a road be a SAFER solution for pedestrians for more than a very short time whilst repairs are done? They are much safer ON their footpath. Plus motorists are rightly getting a bit fed up as Alan remarks.
The local councillor should visit the owners of the wall, point out the danger posed to persons passing by, immediately install temporary safety measures to prevent injury and at the same time issue a warning to the owner that unless repairs are COMPLETED within say 5 days the council will do the necessary repairs and invoice the owner along with the cost of providing the temporary safety measures - which in this case includes traffic lights [& no doubt a few cones]. Should no payment soon be received the cost will be added to the owner's council tax bill with a penalty for non-payment.
A similar situation seems to happen quite regularly when a hedge becomes overgrown and reduces the width of a pavement. The local councillor should be the first recipient of complaint from a resident - or even notices the encroachment him/herself. Notice to rectify the situation is issued to the property owner and if no rectification occurs by a declared date, the council will do what is required and invoice the owner directly. This will not be inexpensive!
There seems to be too much happening these days that shows a complete air of indifference to personal responsibility, who cares, why should I bother and a ‘try and get away with it if I can’ mentality.
Alan Brough
Saturday 22nd May 2021 at 9:28 am
@David Smith,

My thoughts exactly. As I understand it, Local Authorities have a statutory right of access to a property where the health and safety of the public are threatened.
David Smith
Saturday 22nd May 2021 at 10:14 am
Thanks Alan for your agreeing with me.
Anyone else out there?
Just for info: I don't have ANY other social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram 'et al.' - so sending me a message to @David Smith will not get to me and probably some other chap with my name.
David Smith
Saturday 22nd May 2021 at 10:23 am
JAMES MaCDONALD:
Good idea to ban people staring at their phones whilst walking.
How about appointing yourself as the Wilmslow & Alderley Phone Staring Warden [W&APSW]. I'm sure you can get a yellow high-viz jacket with W&APSW printed on the back plus a peaked cap just for added authority. Then you can walk around town all day and 'book' anyone doing what you say they shouldn't.
Let us all know how you get on and as council tax payers we will all be eternally grateful that you are providing this valuable community service absolutely FREE!
PS: I might have a peaked cap I no longer need that you can have for nothing.
James MacDonald
Saturday 22nd May 2021 at 2:33 pm
David, a very generous offer of a peaked cap. I imagine you typed that whilst walking and crashing into lampposts and parked vehicles. Don’t worry, I’m sure the NHS will help you when you need them.
Anthony Round
Saturday 22nd May 2021 at 7:09 pm
Hi Mark
I do agree with you that the short private section of Fulshaw Park South is like a bomb site. Unfortunately there are only two of the residents of FPS and me (and my pal from Biddulph) that has ever done anything towards trying to make it better.
I can’t work out if the other residents affected by this section of road don’t care or can’t be bothered!!
However, it doesn’t take away the right of Cedarway residents to have their council adopted road properly maintained by the CEC.
Tony Round
Stuart Redgard
Sunday 23rd May 2021 at 7:40 am
#Anthony Round

A suggestion. If I have correctly understood what the "CODE OF PRACTICE
FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY INSPECTIONS" says, then Cedarway should have been inspected 3 times a year since 2013/4. You could do a freedom of Information request asking when these inspections were carried out and what the findings were. That would determine if the inspections were actually carried out and what they found. This might give you some evidence to then bring litigation against CEC for not carrying out their statutory duty.

The "CODE OF PRACTICE FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY INSPECTIONS" is the document referred to in Tony Roeves comment of THURSDAY 20TH MAY 2021 AT 3:53 PM.

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