Last year, Labour promised to get to grips with Pot Holes in the Borough, as part of their manifesto. The Barnet Tories have picked on the fact that there seems to be more pot holes than ever after a year of Labour. They recently posted this tweet
Labour promised faster and better road repairs, but the reality is delayed pothole repairs and never-ending roadworks 🚧 pic.twitter.com/udvbBU0VwM— Barnet Conservatives (@BarnetTories) May 22, 2023
But is this fair? Is this a new phenominum, or is it just "business as usual" in Barnet? Well back in April 2018, I posted the following tweets. I counted every pot hole on the 1/4 mile walk between my house on Millway and the polling station in Hartley Avenue. I called it Pothole bingo. How many do you reckon I counted?
1 - Let's play @BarnetCouncil pothole bingo! How many potholes, bad road surface and traffic hazards can I photo walking from the polling station to my house - here's the polling station pic.twitter.com/nUyDWxXJQB— Roger Tichborne/Rog T (@Barneteye) April 7, 2018
Between 2002 and 2022, the Conservatives ran the council. I have lived in the Borough all of my life and before this time, pot holes were a rare occurrance. Roads were properly maintained and issues were dealt with. When the Tories got in, one of their flagship policies was to remove the road humps that Labour had installed between 1994 and 2002. A huge swathe of the roads maintenance budget was gobbled up removing road humps. It seems Ironic that their plan to increase road speeds has ended with even lower speeds as drivers weave through the dangers. My road, Millway, was resurfaced in 2011 when they took the humps out.
According to the Precision Civils website, an asphalt surface should last 13 years. The Surface in Millway lasted around six years before it started to fall apart. As far as I can see, this means that the work was not done properly. You can see this from the 7th tweet in the series of tweets above. It has got far worse.
Once a road surface starts to deteriorate like this, the only proper solution is to resurface the road. The hump removal programme wrecked many of the Borough's roads and is the reason we are where we are. Potholes are caused by water and ice. The water freezes and damages and cracks the surface and substrate. This allows more water to get in. Once the substrate is damaged, then the only real fix is to start again. The Barnet Tories left a skint council with wrecked roads. The problems are 100% down to them.
However, Labour did come in with a pledge to fix the roads. I sympathise with their situation, but they now need a plan to deal with it. The simple answer is to borrow the money to do the job properly. As ongoing maintenance bills will be far lower, ultimately the council will save money. The only caveat is that Labour must not make the mistake the Conservatives made, which was to let dodgy contractors do sub standard work. Without doubt, the Conservatives will then scream that Labour are "piling up debt for future generations". This will be inaccurate as there will be a massive benefit and the long term maintenance costs will be far lower. As someone who runs a business, I am all for investment backed by debt when there is a clear financial return.
There are many other smaller measures that could be done. Last May, when I stood for the Lib Dems in Mill Hill, we outlined a few. Sadly, we didn't get in and the new Labour council have adopted none of these ideas.