There are potholes all over my Manchester street - when will our embarrassing roads be sorted?
and live on Freeview channel 276
The Manchester street I live in is 134 years old.
A huge fan of period properties and in particular, Victorian houses, I have often romanticised about the people who lived here before me and what it must have looked like back in 1889.
In fact I even went as far to seek out a picture of it online, complete with little children in bonnets, women in pinafores and an entirely cobbled street with Victorian lamp posts.
Then recently, I got to actually physically see those historic cobbles for myself, when they suddenly appeared in the middle of a huge pot hole right outside my house, so deep I could witness the Victorian street beneath the surface - how fascinating. And how deeply annoying.
The pothole was closely followed by not one but ten other pot holes stretching the whole length of my street and making driving down it somewhat akin to a computer game - requiring skill and patience to swerve in order to preserve my cars suspension and keep my tyres intact while not hitting any of the parked cars on either side of a road built to only accommodate a horse and cart.
It’s quite a mean feat and it doesn’t stop there, once safely out of my own street there are other roads to navigate - all with the same crater filled surfaces which at times have caused me to feel like a contestant on wacky races.
Giving myself a break from being behind the wheel, I have recently ordered an uber into the city centre a number of times, only to find myself bouncing up and down on the back seat, risking whiplash, as the driver apologises for the bumpy ride but the “state of the roads” means it’s unavoidable.
I mean, seriously, just when is it going to get better?
Well, apparently chronic underfunding on behalf of the government means it would cost £14 billion and a whopping 12 years to allow motorists an easier ride.
Councillor Alan Quinn, cabinet member for the environment, climate change and operations, said: “We have been investing huge sums of money in our roads - an extra £30 million over three years. This is money we have had to borrow, due to chronic underfunding by the Government over many years for highways works.
“Industry experts say that the cost of fixing all of England’s roads is £14 billion, and would take 12 years.
“Thanks to our investment, however, we are making progress. In the last 12 months, we have filled 10,000 potholes. And we have a long list of roads we are resurfacing or repairing.”
He told me the council are aware of repairs needed at my particular street and that they will be on the list.
How long that list is, or how long it will take to get round to where my street figures on it, was not made clear - but with a 12 year ball park figure for the whole of the UK, I’m guessing getting them filled in time for Christmas might be a tad optimistic.
And with people all over the city and up and down the country suffering, I feel a bit bad complaining too loudly about a mere eleven pot holes on a small residential street - one so big it had its own barricade around it briefly, as it was deemed dangerous.
I mean that’s where we are now. Eleven pot holes is probably considered small fry, and compared to the 20 or so on a similar street across the road, I guess it is. Let’s not forget these potholes are not just unsightly - they are dangerous - causing cars to swerve, causing car damage and filling up with water and masquerading as puddles - not fun if you’re an oblivious cyclist and the owner of a neck.
This is not a problem unique to my suburb of Manchester, nor is it unique to Manchester - it’s a nationwide problem. RAC data estimates that UK roads have between 1.2 and 1.5 million potholes, with drivers likely seeing the road faults every day.
It’s been described as ‘an international embarrassment.’ And people are angry.
We have a mystery motorist in Lostwithiel, Cornwall who did their own job with a vat of concrete, a man in Bromley who took to filling pot holes with plastic arks and trucks in a bid to turn them into some form of modern art and in Cobham, Surrey, someone brought attention to the problem by drawing huge penises around them.
It’s not been quite so dramatic in my neighbourhood but one of my neighbours has threatened to send our local council the bill if his suspension breaks. Another says her car has been scraped by swerving cars.
Another neigbour says the council are “sticking an elastoplast on a heamorraging wound” - saying she has seen the council filling in potholes that just return again and again.
“I wish they would just lift the tarmac and expose the cobbles” she said, “Just give us the original cobbled street back, it would stop anyone speeding and it would stop recurrent pot holes which seem to get filled in before any local election and a year later need doing all over again.”
I could actually get on board with that idea - if anything, it would help me to romanticise more clearly about life on my street back in a more simple time - one where you didn’t need a neck brace to get down it.