Councillors in Oxfordshire from multiple political parties have spoken out about the ongoing pothole issues in the county, putting cyclists in danger and causing a large number of compensation claims from road users.
Oxfordshire County Council revealed that, in figures reported by the Oxford Mail, it had received 6,026 claims for compensation since 2017/18 until the end of July this year, paying out on 2,044 of those, amounting to a total of £778,671 paid out to road users who said they had suffered property damage by potholes or other road defects.
The council is run by a Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green Party coalition, although Oxford City Council's Labour councillor Linda Smith is one of the local politicians to have spoken out about the county council's pothole problem.
"Residents are particularly frustrated that it appears money can be found for more glitzy highways projects but the basics seem underfunded," she said, also mentioning that potholes are a "particular concern" for those riding bicycles who "faced the risk of injury when roads aren't maintained well".
She added: "I understand that resources are limited and budgets have many competing priorities but many residents in Lye Valley believe heavily used roads in the city need more investment in maintenance than they currently receive."
[📷: Pothole in Didcot, Oxfordshire, credit — Tim Masters]
Conservative county councillor Liam Walker also spoke out on the issue. Cllr Walker may be familiar to readers of this website as he is the councillor who in 2020 resigned from his role as Cabinet Member for Highways Delivery and Operations after coming under fire for replying to a tweet which suggested cyclists should "f*** off over" to the Netherlands and that cyclists are "constantly w****** off the Dutch". "Well put, in a way people would complain if I said the same," Cllr Walker replied at the time.
Speaking now, on the issue of potholes, Walker said he was impressed by how many people had made pothole-related compensation claims.
"In the current climate with household budgets being so tight I feel for those who are having to pay for costs incurred due to the pothole not being repaired," he said, calling on the council to "focus on getting the basics right" rather than spending "£8 million [changing] speed limits to 20mph" rather than fixing "145,000 potholes".
A spokesperson for the council insisted it is monitoring "trends linked to road conditions and reports of potholes on a daily basis and deploys resource accordingly".
"We are working very hard to repair roads and tackle highway defects," the spokesperson said.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.