Following the announcement of another £2.2m cut from the roads budget Labour councillors have been told that the Conservatives administration on Suffolk County Council is looking in to the possibility of asking volunteers to fill pot holes for free. Really, you could not make it up.
Following questions by Labour Transport spokesperson Cllr Sandra Gage at the County Council meeting of the 23rd October as to whether Suffolk would follow Devon County Council example in asking volunteers to fill pot holes for free Graham Newman confirmed that “yes, we are looking into it”.
The impact of this move can already be seen with planned resurfacing work cancelled across Ipswich. Labour Ipswich Borough Councillors have discovered that Powling Road is the first cancelation. It was due to be fully resurfaced last month, but instead it has had its problem holes temporarily patched, putting the resurfacing off until next year when undoubtedly the problems on Powling Road will be much worse and it will cost even more to put right. More roads are expected to be treated the same, with the Woodbridge Road /Argyle Street junction being one Cllr Gage has repeatedly asked for early treatment, before the winter sets in, with no response from the County Council.
Set against the backdrop of another £2.2m being cut from the Highways budget this backing up of costs looks short sighted at best. The Conservatives have again buried their heads in the ever increasing number of pot holes across Ipswich and are ignoring the problem hoping it will go away. Labour Councillors know this is not the answer. Further investigation by the Labour group suggests a number of Conservative councils are thinking of introducing ‘road warden’ volunteer schemes to tackle a variety of roadwork’s, including potholes the council insist they can no longer afford, almost as a modern day version of mediaeval state labour then required of the locals by their feudal lord.
Cllr Sandra Gage said; “I was completely taken aback when Cllr Newman suggested that the council really were looking at volunteers to fill pot holes. I had jokingly said ‘are road wardens coming anytime soon to Suffolk?’, but it appears the Conservatives really do think it is appropriate that residents undertake road repairs. These are highly skilled jobs and the training is expensive. Does the County Council expect the public to have these skills? This is a cut too far, what happens when a volunteer ‘road warden’ is injured whilst undertaking the work?”