Road surface pressure on council

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Cheshire East Council came under sustained pressure at last night's Audlem Parish Council meeting over the state of the area's roads.

Councillor Menlove, Cheshire East's Environment Portfolio Holder, had been invited to attend but could not be there. John Dodd, the highways maintenance team leader, was there and faced many searching questions about local roads and priorities for repairs.

In the Public Forum, local resident Peter Oxley described the frustrating experience of reporting faults, the continuous excuses and the haphazard and seemingly inefficient way in which vital repairs were carried out.

He said: "I have personally witnessed cyclists having to zig-zag to avoid potholes. Given the popularity of cycling in and around Audlem, this is a big issue, especially at weekends.

"Swerving to avoid these defects in the road can put a cyclist in harm's way when there is oncoming traffic, which may also be swerving to avoid the potholes!"

John Dodd responded by saying there were finite budgets and that the necessity for road works was based on a points system related to risk and how heavily used a road was. The priority recently had been A and then B roads.

This produced challenges from two councillors and Peter Oxley about a road that fits neither classification, Cobbs Lane at Hough, which has been resurfaced, seen top quality repairs and has just been top dressed.

Mr Dodd was asked if this was because a prominent Cheshire East councillor happened to live on that minor road. He answered that he was not aware of this as those works were 'capital', that is structural projects rather than the 'revenue', or more day to day repairs, he was responsible for.

It was claimed that all Cheshire East roads are inspected by highways officers every four months, a claim greeted with some sceptism with one councillor describing how surprised a highways officer had been by the state of roads in the Coxbank area that had probably not been inspected for years.

The aim, John Dodd, said was to inspect reported faults within five working days and serious and potentially dangerous ones within a day.

Parish councillors questioned whether work carried out was being properly supervised as many jobs were not done properly.

Planned work by highways in the coming two weeks were described in detail with work starting on the A529 from Dig Lane and then extensive patching on that road towards Audlem village itself. Some of that work has already been completed.

Velocity patching of fourteen minor roads had already been carried out and several councillors thanked Mr Dodd for that work.

The lengthy discusion was wound up with John Dodd saying that Audlem's roads had been receiving extensive attention and more money was being spent here at present than anywhere else.

Peter Oxley added a final plea on behalf of cyclists saying that deep potholes towards the side of the road were particularly dangerous and could cause very serious accidents as cyclists either hit the pothole or were forced to swerve as a vehicle was passing them.

More on the Parish Council meeting over coming days.