New approach to fixing potholes and getting Wigan moving

A large pothole in Wigan
A large pothole in Wigan
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Council workers will no longer automatically repair some of the borough’s potholes as part of a raft of measures being introduced.

The code of practice being proposed by the local authority will bring in a range of new working methods.

Other news: Recycling rises in Wigan after bin round shake-up

All councils are being asked by the Department of Transport to draw up their own standards for highways maintenance.

Wigan’s includes the introduction of a “specified investigatory depth” for potholes.

It is a departure from the council’s current policy and will mean any pothole of 40mm in depth will be investigated but not automatically repaired.

Instead a decision to carry out a repair and the priority of any repair will be based on a risk matrix.

Currently a pothole of 25mm on pedestrian crossings were automatically repaired, as were defects of 40mm in all other areas. Repairs deemed necessary but not urgent could take anything up to 28 days.

The policy could anger some motorists but is seen as a crucial way of focusing resources to ensure the worst potholes are fixed quickly and efficiently, and comes as council chiefs have funnelled £500,000 into a repair fund.

The borough’s highways, like all other parts of the UK, have been hit by a combination of plummeting temperatures and heavy rainfall.

“The council will no longer automatically action highway minor defects, such as potholes, for repair based purely on an intervention level,” writes highways director Paul Barton.

“Instead an investigatory level will now trigger a risk-based investigatory assessment of the identified issue.

“The council would no longer automatically repair defects that meet the specified investigatory depth.

“Instead, any defect with a defect level which corresponds to, or is in excess of, the minimum investigatory level, is to be assessed under the risk-based assessment.”

The new code of practice is being introduced across the country, with councils drawing up their own standards.

Wigan’s has been designed to meet its “corporate efficiency agenda” - drawn up to meet the harsh financial challenges it faces.

Town hall chiefs, however, warn it many “expose the council to an increased risk of public liability claims”, with motorists claiming compensation for damage caused by potholes. Other aspects of the code of practice include better staff training and the introduction of an asset condition survey scheme.

Last week, council leader Lord Smith announced that half a million pounds will be spent on road and pavement repairs.

He said: “This money will be spent on the roads and pavements repairing the winter damage.

“We don’t want to go round slashing services in this period of austerity, we want to keep as many as necessary for the people of Wigan.”