Mole Valley could get powers to repair its own potholes

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser

ONE OF Mole Valley residents’ biggest gripes may soon be dealt with on a more grassroots level

BLIGHT: Potholes, such as this one in Dorking, could soon be fixed by Mole Valley District Council

Potholes – the bane of so many people’s lives – are currently tackled by contractors overseen by Surrey County Council, which is based over at Kingston-upon-Thames.

But a new initiative is under way which could see roads maintenance work carried out on a more localised level. Four councils – Mole Valley, Epsom and Ewell, Reigate and Banstead and Tandridge – are collaborating with a view to taking over the massive programme of maintenance work from the county council.

Councillor James Friend, leader of Mole Valley District Council said: “We are working with Epsom and Ewell Borough Council, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council and Tandridge District Council on how to increase efficiency by considering services that could be delivered locally.

“Last spring, we successfully took on responsibility from Surrey for our own highways horticulture contract.

“By running the contract directly from Mole Valley we have built a close working partnership with our contractors and can actively monitor and liaise with them directly, reducing communication lines and responding swiftly to residents.”

He added: “We would only look to take on devolved responsibility for services from Surrey County Council in the future where it directly helps meet the priorities that our residents have given us.”

Tandridge council leader Gordon Keymer said the proposal was still in its infancy, but he was enthused about its potential.

One advantage of taking on the project, he said, was the opportunity to move quicker on road repairs, rather than having to wade through two stratas of local government.

Highways maintenance is big business. The county’s £100m Operation Horizon scheme, launched in 2013, has led to comprehensive repairs being carried out to many hundreds of battered roads across Surrey,

And although the overall picture has improved, there are still many outstanding grievances.

In the last financial year almost £147,000 had to be paid out by the county council in compensation to drivers whose vehicles suffered damage on the county’s potholed roads.

Yet this figure was well down on the £550,000 that had to be paid out back in 2012-13. And only last week it emerged that the county council’s contractors were bussing in staff from Hampshire and Kent because they could not find enough skilled workmen locally.

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