Northumberland tops national roads survey

Coun Ian Swithenbank, policy board member for streetcare and environment, Leyton Rahman and Gary Marshall, of Northumberland County Council.
Coun Ian Swithenbank, policy board member for streetcare and environment, Leyton Rahman and Gary Marshall, of Northumberland County Council.

Northumberland County Council has been named today as the most improved council in the country for its highways and transportation services, according to a national survey.

The authority was also found to be the most improved county council for both roads maintenance and for the condition of its roads in the Highways and Transportation public satisfaction survey 2014.

The annual survey compared the performance of 78 highways authorities in England and Scotland across a range of aspects of highways and transportation.

The findings also show that compared to all councils since 2013, Northumberland is in the top 10 of improved councils for overall public satisfaction levels; is sixth most improved for highway maintenance services; is fourth most improved for the condition of its highways.

The findings have been welcomed by the county council, which, in recent years, has had to deal with the consequences of severe weather damage to its road network.

Leader Coun Grant Davey said: “This is a tremendous achievement by our highways staff, who have come up with innovative and effective solutions to maintaining and improving our extensive rural roads network.”

Two extremely cold winters, as well as severe flooding in 2012 and 2013, left the county dealing with almost 3,000metres of landslips, affecting 36 communities, and 11 road closures.

The council modernised its approach to road repairs, investing in new technology methods which helped it to clear a backlog of 35,000 potholes by June this year. Nationally the average cost of repairing each pothole is £52, but Northumberland has achieved this at a cost of £15 each.

Alongside repairing potholes to protect the road, drainage works were carried out, gullies were unblocked, over growing vegetation was removed and road channels were swept.

The council was successful in bidding for government funds to help repair the road as well as using its own resources to tackle the long-term deterioration of its roads.

Coun Ian Swithenbank, policy board member for streetcare and environment, said: “Alongside other councils, we have had to deal with a combination of severe winter weather and, in particular, unusually wet weather, and long-term underinvestment. Government funding has been very welcome and we continue to press the case for long-term investment. We will continue to spend out budget wisely and deliver improved efficiency wherever possible.”

The survey by the National Highways and Transportation Network is carried out independently by Ipsos Mori and is sent out to 3,500 households in each participating council’s area. For more information, visit nhtsurvey.econtrack.co.uk