News that Merseyside Council has set aside an extra £5m to improve roads in the area will come as a relief to many, particularly the motorists who regularly have to cope with crumbling roads and damaging potholes.
A report in the Liverpool Echo explains that the cash will ensure that work on more than 40 main roads and 140 minor roads in Wirral can be carried out by the end of the year.
It will come as a welcome Christmas present to car drivers who have become used to playing “dodge the pothole”, a game which is less amusing when there is a vehicle coming the other way, leaving the driver with no option but to grit his or her teeth as one wheel crunches into a hole with a nerve-wrenching bang.
The local Cabinet Member for Community Services, one Julie McManus, is quoted as saying that she is “delighted that, by securing further funding, we are able to add roads into the programme and carry out more intensive repairs, as this will continue to maintain roads across the borough for all of our residents.”
While this is all good news, Cllr McManus would do well to remember that securing the money is in itself not enough to guarantee a brave new world of beautifully surfaced roads (and about 100 footpaths too, apparently).
Many of us have seen roads resurfaced in the spring or summer only to see them fall apart again at the first sign of frost, victims not just of the bad weather but of poor workmanship.
When Councils receive a £5m windfall they need to make sure that not only do they choose the right roads for their resurfacing but that they choose the right contractor to carry out the work.
For too long, local councils have focused purely on price, with the result that roads are resurfaced or repaired by the company that can cut the most corners in order to win the contract. And that kind of short-term decision making is what leads to short-lived repairs.
So please, Merseyside Council, give the motorists more than just a six-month reprieve by selecting a quality contractor that will do a quality job and deliver value for money – which is rarely the same as being the cheapest.