Fears over potential loss of investment in pothole repairs
- Credit: Adrian Judd
Drivers and cyclists could be hit with extra costs and risk getting injured if funding is reduced on pothole repairs across the city, a motoring giant has warned.
It comes after a top county councillor said the authority was facing financial pressures from rising inflation which has soared from 5.5pc at the start of the year to 9pc in the spring.
Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance at County Hall, said £18.9m to take account of inflation had been factored in to the budget the Conservative-controlled authority agreed in February.
He said it was a "key risk" and could mean, in the longer term, the council would have to look at scaling back some services including fixing potholes on roads across the city.
Luke Bosdet, an AA spokesman, said: “Cutting back on roads expenditure, although tempting for cash-strapped councils, carries risks in terms of transport efficiency, road safety and road user anger.
“If the cutbacks lead to a worsening of the road conditioning, whether that is potholes, skid resistance at junctions and roundabouts or winter protection, there is a risk of people getting killed and injured.
“Not only are Norwich people being encouraged to get on their bikes to reduce CO2 but the high cost of road fuel is persuading many people to cycle short journeys.
"As well as the risk of road casualties from people hitting potholes, leading to a tab that the NHS has to pick up for trips to A&E, wouldn’t it also be tragic if travellers being converted to two wheels were put off by having to run the gauntlet of avoidable road hazards?”
Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said: “Organisations which carry out this work have had their funding slashed over the course of a decade by the government.
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“Delays to works on potholes has knock-on implications for congestion and road safety.
“Of course potholes don’t just impact drivers. Road users of highways like cyclists are at the most danger from potholes.
“How can we get people to cycle more to save the environment if they keep falling in potholes, and indeed how an we convince parents to get kids into cycling if this is an issue?”
The call to protect pothole repair funding comes as motorists across the city continue to navigate around roadworks across the city.
John Walker, owner of owner of Drayton-based Enterprise Taxis, said: "There are potholes everywhere getting bigger and bigger and they won't get filled. It is bonkers.
"Potholes cause damage to our cars' suspension and cause punctures and tyre blowouts.
"You never see potholes being fixed and if you leave them it will be winter and you will end up with the road getting closed.
"It is important to get them fixed as soon as possible."
Chas Lockwood, 59, from Hellesdon, who is a refugee support worker, said: "Potholes need to be repaired but I'm conscious of the fact the county council has only got the money it is given by central government.
"They have a heavy responsibility to repair roads but limited resources to do it."
Eeshan Gangwani, 21, who is studying medicine at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said: "I pay the road tax and would expect the potholes to be fixed."
The student who lives in Merton Road, off Dereham Road, added he thought the standard of roads in the city was alright but highlighted Aylsham Road as a problem area.
A 33-year-old woman, who also lives in Merton Road and cycles around the city, said: "Often the potholes are on the side of the road.
"You have to pull out onto the middle of the road which is daunting but you don't want to cycle through a pot-hole. My friend bent his wheel in one.
"Certain roads are bad for potholes including Bowthorpe Road."
A council spokesman said: "Norfolk County Council, like many organisations, are expecting increased budget pressures as a result of the current exceptional levels of inflation, but the precise impacts during 2022-23 are not yet fully quantifiable."