Recently I had the privilege of visiting a team of engineers at Gloucestershire Highways’ Cannop Depot working to implement the County Council’s £100 million resurfacing programme, which has recently received a boost as a result of Central Government funding announced at this year's budget. This has allowed an expansion of annual resurfacing plans and fast-track repairs to be carried out across Gloucestershire, particularly in the Forest of Dean.
More than 170 roads are set to be resurfaced in Gloucestershire this year supported by new methods of repair. The spray injection patching machine, which I saw in action, is just one of several innovative methods being trialled this summer. The appliance revolutionises fixing rural roads and since the 12th June has repaired 3000 square metres across rural areas. It has made more than 1,000 pothole repairs during just 28 shifts, which is more than double the average speed of a conventional pothole repair team.
One of the most consistent issues that constituents raise with me is the quality of roads across the Forest and the work we’re doing to tackle potholes. We know this is an issue, and that is why the County Council has put in the funding to address it.
This work builds on that already completed by Central Government to address the damage that is sometimes caused to our road network by the work of utility companies. From the 1st April 2023, new regulations came into force for a performance-based inspection regime to ensure utility companies resurface roads to the best possible standard after street works, potentially preventing thousands of potholes from developing. Under the new street works regime, utility companies will be assessed on the quality of their road repairs after carrying out street works, with the best companies inspected less and the worse-performing companies inspected more, based on their performance.
As a result, companies that leave our roads in a poor condition could see 100 per cent of their street works inspected. With local authorities such as Gloucestershire Highways now charging £50 per defect inspection and a further £120 for follow-up inspections, poor performing utility companies will now be incentivised to perform better to avoid incurring high financial charges.
I hope that as we begin to move into the winter months my constituents will see an improvement in their local areas. If any of my constituents come across a pothole or any other road defect, I would encourage them to report this to Gloucestershire Highways as soon as possible.
This column was first published in The Forester newspaper.