Thursday 22 March 2018

Today is #Potholeday in Mill Hill - Tell us about your favourite - Mill Hill Pothole map
Many Mill Hill residents have been commenting on social media that local roads have become ever more riddled with potholes and other dangerous hazards. The Barnet Eye yesterday photographed some of our favourites on our daily doggy walk. We do this walk most days it is a circuit of Millway, Station Road, Woodlands Way, across Mill Hill Park, Daws Lane, Goodwyn Avenue, Millway. Yesterday, I set myself a challange to photo the best potholes on the route. Here's my pick!  I see these every day, I feel like they are almost old friends. Sometimes the council fills them in and they disappear, but like my faithful doggy, they soon come straight back. Do you have a favourite Mill Hill Pothole?

As you can see, any of these has the potential to damage a car tyre, throw a cyclist off a bike or trip a pedestrian. Often cars see the pothole and swerve. If you happen to be on your bike when this happens, you may end up in hospital as a friend of mine recently did. In short the roads of Mill Hill are falling apart. 

Whilst this has been going on, the local Conservative Councillors have been busy fighting each other. Last week, this culminated in the deselection of Councillor Sury Khatri as a Conservative candidate in the forthcoming council election. Cllr Khatri resigned the Tory whip in protestThe last eighteen months have seen a marked deterioration in the roads in Mill Hill with many becoming dangerous to pedestrians and vehicles. 

The Barnet Eye has been out and about in the Borough and was interviewed by Beril Naz Hassan from the One Show for the City News show. 

It is not just car drivers and cars that suffer from the dangers of potholes. On dark roads, they are especially dangerous for cyclists as a pothole can dismount a cyclist and write off a bike. For pedestrians they represent a trip hazard and drivers suddenly swerving to avoid potholes is an added danger. 

The Hendon Times has picked up the story. Sadly none of Mill Hill's Conservative Councillors wanted to explain why they've allowed our roads to get into this state. Instead, they wheeled out Dean Cohen from the other side of the Borough, who simply reeled off some party political guff about money not being mentioned in the Lib Dems proposed budget. The reason is quite simple. We believe that our proposals will have no impact on the overall budget, whilst delivering a better and more sustainable solution. We believe that repairs of Potholes has been mismanaged and we will ensure that all Potholes are inspected by qualified council engineers before invoices are paid. Whilst it may be cheaper in the short term to do a bodged repair and not inspect it, the continual repairs to the same potholes are expensive and counter productive. Our scheme would see potholes fixed once and fixed properly. 

We would also require refuse collection crews to report all potholes back to the council as soon as soon as they start to appear. The quicker they are repaired, the less damage to the road substrate and the cheaper the repairs. In short, you get more repairs, better repairs and less disruption to traffic and a net cash saving. As an engineer, I recognise that quality control is the key to saving money. Sadly the councillors who run Barnet Council have no such background and don't understand that the council needs people who are qualified to ensure that in an outsourced council culture, staff are employed to ensure that contractors do the job properly. Only by proper quality control of repairs, will we see any change. I am amazed that the councillors running Barnet do not get this. 

We don't have all the answers, but we believe that there are plenty of residents out there who will support us and will understand that by working together and harnessing the fantastic talents we have in our Borough, we can build a better Mill Hill. Respected local blogger and oustourcing expert John Dix posted the following comment on the Barnet Times website today.

Rog T is correct that Barnet no longer have a team of engineers inspecting road repairs. Indeed I asked the specific question how many Barnet council staff monitor road repairs. The answer....ONE person for all of the road repairs in Barnet. Contractors monitor themselves. Outsourcing costs us a fortune and delivers a rotten service.

You may say "What does he know about Highway Repairs?". The answer is very little. That is why I spoke to an engineer friend who works for one of the main companies that repairs potholes in London. He explained how a properly managed, pro active strategy of road maintenance, backed by an engineering based approach saves money and delivers better roads. His five suggestions are as follows:-

1 - Identify problems early and fix properly before the substrate is damaged.
2 - Ensure that repairs around manholes and other fixed items are done correctly. These require more than simply bunging some tarmac in as the movement generated when vehicles pass over destroys surrounding tarmac in no time.
3 - Ensure that all repairs are properly sealed against water. Freeze/Thaw activity will soon destroy bodged repairs. If water gets underneath the surface, the whole road will start to disintegrate.
4 - Ensure that all repairs are inspected and signed off by a qualified engineer before the invoice is paid
5 - Track locations and if there are recurring repairs, find out why and fix properly.

Back in 2010 I suggested that refuse collection crews be instructed to report all potholes and other road hazards back to the council, rather than waiting for residents to report the issues. The existing system means that potholes are only reported once they are actually dangerous and the road surface has sustained serious damage. By this time the road substrate layer is damaged. If they are identified early then the repairs are easier and will last. The tweet above showing the deteriorating surface in Millway is one such area that should be fixed immediately. 

There are three ways that this situation is costing us a fortune, money that could be saved if the council was run properly.

1 - Repeated repairs cost a fortune. Although a proper repair may individually cost more than a bodged one, the repeat visits mean that overall the cost is dwarfed.
2 - The council is paying a fortune in compensation for damaged cars, injured pedestrians, broken bikes and hurt cyclists.
3 - The council is quite happy to pay PR consultants to "manage the perception" of the council in the face of these issues. If they spent less on PR and more on engineers to get the job done then we'd all be happier. 

Sadly we have an administration that is too busy fighting amongst themselves to look for solutions. In Barnet Council there is a culture of "ringing a management consultant" when they perceive there is a problem. They pay a fortune for reports and have endless restructures. All the while services decline. This is why Mill Hill roads are starting to resemble the surface of the moon. We thought we'd end this little article with some fun and run a Spot the difference competition
Woodland Way NW7

Image result for craters on the moon
The surface of the moon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The complication with the ironworks pothole will surely be that the council will try to get the ironworks utility to raise it rather than bury the ironworks. As with the widespread problem of uncapped Virgin shafts in the pavement who do nothing but my councillor says the council could be sued by Virgin if it fills these holes even after giving Virgin notice, or is that not true? Jim, NW11