Extra £19m 'to help tackle the borough’s crumbling' road network

CEC highways repairs (1)

Cheshire East Council has voted to increase its spending on roads maintenance by £19m over the next three years as part of its 'invest to save' strategy, which will be funded by borrowing,

The aim is to help tackle the borough's crumbling 2,700km network and reduce the number of potholes that need repair.

In addition to local funding, each local highways' authority receives annual roads maintenance and repair funding from central government which comes from national taxation, including fuel duty.

However, government funding for Cheshire East highways was cut by 21 per cent last year and is now being frozen at £13m a year for the next three years.

The council has voted to invest an additional £19m in highways repairs, funded by borrowing, over the next three years – spending £7m in 2022/3, £6m in 2023/4 and £6m in 2024/5.

This means a total highways maintenance spending of £20m next year. However, assessment by the council's strategic highways team shows that £27m is needed to be invested each year just to keep the roads in their current state.

The council predicts the additional £19m spent on highways maintenance will reduce the number of potholes that need fixing by almost 8,000 – saving the council around £575,000 from its reactive repairs bill over the next four years.

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council and chair of its highways and transport committee, said: "Underinvestment in the public highways, due to funding cuts by central government coupled with the impact of climate change, is resulting in a significant increase in defects that require reactive repairs to keep our highways safe.

"By targeting additional highways investment of £19m, we will save money on the need for reactive repair of potholes further down the line. This 'invest to save' approach will reduce our repairs bill by more than half a million pounds over the next three years."

In January, Cheshire East Council joined local authorities across the country in calling on the government to 'fix our funding so we can fix our roads'.

The campaign, which is apolitical, was launched by the leader of Conservative-controlled Lincolnshire County Council in recognition that many local authorities across the country have seen their funding for highways maintenance and repairs slashed.

The leader and deputy leader of Cheshire East Council joined forces with other local authorities to lobby government and demand reverses to cuts to highways funding – so the borough and nation's decaying roads network can be restored.

Cllr Browne said: "Rural boroughs are significantly disadvantaged by the government's existing funding formula. We need fairer highways funding for the residents and road users of Cheshire East – they demand and deserve this and we cannot continue to be overlooked.

"Without adequate funding, people will see our roads only get worse and the local economy suffer."

The council's highways service is responsible for repairs and management of the borough's 2,700km of roads and 2,103km of footways, in addition to the maintenance of bridges, street lighting, signage and 600km of cycleways. It is the biggest council asset – valued at about £6bn.

On average, the council receives nearly 2,950 highways fault reports a month. In the year to January 2022, the council received a total of 35,352 reports and filled 21,306 potholes across the borough, with a forecast of a further 6,900 pothole repairs likely by the end of March 2022. The average cost of repairing a pothole is £72.



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

David Hoyle
Wednesday 16th March 2022 at 2:41 pm
If they did a proper job of fixing the potholes the first time then they would not have to keep coming back to fill them in.
Simon Rodrigues
Wednesday 16th March 2022 at 6:42 pm
To pay cowboys to do a bad job and the same problem appears again in winter. I have vide evidence of them laying cold asphalt into a water flooded pothole and walking away thinking thats a good job. Get from behind your desks and open your eyes to the waste of tax payers money. No need for tax rise, more of a need for managers to start managing.
Jon Williams
Wednesday 16th March 2022 at 7:36 pm
But don't worry "Repairing Cheshire East's roads will take 400 years" reveals council "

Don't think we will have cars then !
Peter Davenport
Wednesday 16th March 2022 at 8:32 pm
I totally with your readers David Hall and Simon Rodriques, with a rider, which we, as tax payers ought to know. I would like to know, and so would all tax payers, is the work of the sub contractors ever inspected, as know of 2 , during 4 months were redone 4 times on Adlington Road, and judging by other "work" done, is also poorly done, and obviously never inspected. This also applies to other sub contractors, e.g. grid and gully emptying and gully emptying as well. I know of one grid has never been emptied for over 2 years.
If one enquires how these contractors charge for work done, ist by units done or length of road, but as we have been told, these are never shown to us, the tax payers, and in my opinion, having judged what was done before lunch, and seeing working time finishing to return to base, where and to whom has the money gone to ?
Peter Davenport
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 16th March 2022 at 8:52 pm
In 2018, the previous Conservative administration signed Cheshire East to a 15 year deal with Ringway Jacobs to manage all our highway repairs and maintenance. Under this contract, Ringway Jacobs inspects and approves their own work, which as people have pointed out, can be open to abuse.

Therefore, some of this extra money will recruit new council staff to inspect their work and give us an independent assessment of its quality. It means that any shoddy repairs will now be spotted and will not be paid for.

Additionally, this extra money also means we can do less patch filling repairs. These are cheap to do but as they soon disintegrate, need doing regularly. Instead we now have the funds to do more resurfacing repairs that are initially far more expensive but as they last longer are cheaper in the long run.

Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Wilmslow West & Chorley
Christine McClory
Wednesday 16th March 2022 at 11:21 pm
Operative words "to HELP tackle". Not to sort completely..... Also... Be aware that Cheshire East usually means Sandbach and Macclesfield. Doesn't usually mean Wulmslow.
Bob Bracegirdle
Thursday 17th March 2022 at 2:07 am
By far better to have direct labour to do it rather than contracting out.
Jon Williams
Thursday 17th March 2022 at 7:57 am
From Ringway Jacobs website:

"Our aim is to deliver the highest possible standard of service throughout Cheshire East whilst improving the network condition and deliver value for money for our residents and businesses. We take pride in our work and service putting Customer Satisfaction at the heart of what we do.

We were the first Highways Service Provider to achieve ISO 55001 for our effective and efficient approach to asset management. We are also certified to ISO 44001 for Collaborative Business Relationships and our successes have been recognised by the industry through us winning both national and regional awards for innovation."

And it's not even the 1st April !
Alan Brough
Thursday 17th March 2022 at 11:07 am
Hi Mark,

Please reassure us that the awarding of the 15 year contract was underpinned with some measurable KPI's and that any clear and consistent failures could result in the early termination of the contract.
Graham Shaw
Thursday 17th March 2022 at 2:11 pm
Maybe they can spend some of the money on a JCB Pothole Pro, which Stoke Trent Council have been using and Coventry are now using. One machine has done in four months what would have taken 3 years

Also, they could do with repairing the road between Alderley Edge and the Old Astra Zeneca site, which is rapidly becoming some sort of glorified farm track.
Pete Taylor
Thursday 17th March 2022 at 4:35 pm
The previous administration Conservative Councillor who signed the fifteen year contract with the lowest bidder boasted in several photo-opportunities that he was saving us a million pounds a year.
Mike Hennessy
Friday 18th March 2022 at 7:32 am
good move re inspecting as long as the standard to which the work must be done is clearly specified ( materials, timescales, costs, look etc ) in advance. who is doing the specifying ? and i'd advise getting a decent project manager or two who know how manage contractors and hold them accountable for any deviation from plan. they will pay for themselves
Peter Davenport
Monday 21st March 2022 at 7:39 pm
further to Mark Goldsmith's comments. It seems that Ringway Jacob s are repairing bad patches of road, such as the Wilmslow to Mobberley road, and not single pot holes themselves. The only firm I have seen doing this is DODGSON from Manchester, and I am certain these are never inspected by Cheshire East. Without commenting, all I can say it surprises me that some of the work's quality does not stand up to the wear.
Peter Davenporrt
Nick Jones
Monday 21st March 2022 at 8:42 pm
Alderley Rd Junction Macclesfield Rd, [toward train station] .. deep ruts, broken surface .. Congleton Rd Alderley Edge is a real surface shocker... There are many many more ... but these are reported , and have been for some time, yet nothing changes. The Ringway Jacobs contract must have been 'manna from heaven ' for them..
The above I specifically mention as they are dangerous to Cyclists, Motorcycles in particular beside traffic in general.
Failure to maintain the road surface does appear to slow the traffic, so maybe this is part of a cunning plan by CEC as a traffic calming measure..
Christine McClory
Tuesday 19th April 2022 at 6:39 pm
Operative words "to HELP tackle". Not to sort completely..... Also... Be aware that Cheshire East usually means Sandbach and Macclesfield. Doesn't usually mean Wulmslow.