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Plans to speed up pothole repairs on Wrexham’s minor roads backed by committee

PLANS to speed up pothole repairs on Wrexham’s minor roads have received the support of backbench councillors.

It means more defects in the area could be earmarked for reactive repairs, with improved response time targets put in place.

The move has been suggested after some politicians voiced concerns that residents were being failed by the local authority’s current approach to road maintenance.

Members of the council’s homes and environment scrutiny committee were told yesterday (Wednesday, September 22) that giving greater priority to minor roads would cost an extra £250,000 per year.

Although they were advised it could detract from long-term repairs, the changes received the committee’s backing.

Explaining the alterations at a virtual meeting, Rachel Penman, head of service strategy for the council’s environment department, said: “What we’re proposing is the introduction of a category for the lower hierarchy of roads.

“That would afford those roads that currently don’t qualify as a category one (high priority) some additional prioritisation that they don’t currently have.

“Overall, what we’re proposing is a decrease in intervention levels, which will mean that more potholes are identified for reactive repair.

“The converse to that is, whilst spending resource on reactively repairing potholes, that will take attention and time away from longer term programmed work.

“We need to bear in mind that we’re always walking this balance between the two, but we think what we’re presenting today is a fair balance.”

The proposals would result in potholes on minor routes which measure more than 75mm in depth needing to be repaired within 20 days.

Under the council’s current policy, fixing such defects would attract a longer time target of 90 days.

The changes would also require any potholes deeper than 50mm on main roads to be made safe within two hours.

Potholes on key strategic routes in Wrexham are currently only prioritised if they are deeper than 75mm, with a lengthier response time of 24 hours.

Llay councillor Rob Walsh said he believed the amendments were much-needed.

He said: “We have several streets in Llay which are covered in shallow potholes, which currently do not meet the criteria and are unlikely to get any treatment for a long time.

“This change of policy could actually see long-needed treatment.

“Fixing potholes isn’t just about health and safety, even though that is the most important priority

“It’s all about public confidence because potholes are not something that you can just hide away.

“If this allows more potholes to get treated, then I’m all in favour of that.”

The council has estimated around £40m will be need to be spent over the next decade to bring Wrexham’s roads up to standard.

An additional £1 million was included in last year’s budget towards highways maintenance work by councillors.

Cllr David A Bithell, lead member for environment and transport, said not all of it was spent due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

If the changes are approved by executive board members, some of the remaining money will be carried over to cover the cost of extra staff, vehicles and repair materials.

Brymbo representative Paul Rogers also welcomed the changes.

He said: “This is a good news story for the council that we are going to be investing more in addressing these issues.

“Potholes are a big issue for most of our residents in our wards, so I think we need to be championing these changes that we’re hopefully going to bring in.”

The committee unanimously supported the proposals at the end of the debate and also called for communication regarding pothole repairs to be improved.

The recommendations will now require approval from the authority’s executive board at their next meeting in October before going ahead.

A report to councillors shows there would need to be a six-month lead-in period before the changes are fully introduced.

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