Sidmouth residents encouraged to fix potholes

Cllr Stuart Hughes flattens the material into the pothole. Ref shs 16-16SH 1179. Picture: Simon Horn

Cllr Stuart Hughes flattens the material into the pothole. Ref shs 16-16SH 1179. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Residents are being encouraged to patch minor potholes in Sidmouth as part of a new scheme.

Cllr Stuart Hughes flattens the material into the pothole. Ref shs 16-16SH 1179. Picture: Simon Horn

Cllr Stuart Hughes flattens the material into the pothole. Ref shs 16-16SH 1179. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

The drive was launched by Devon County Council (DCC), which has been struggling to cover the cost of fixing such defects itself.

Sidmouth’s first ‘road warden’, Councillor Stuart Hughes, has been singing the praises of the scheme, which has, so far, not received the support of people in the town.

The scheme allows residents to be trained, for free, as road wardens so they can confidently identify and fix potholes, making the town a safer place.

Cllr Hughes, DCC’s highways chief, is one of six volunteers in the county who have been specially trained to use Instarmac - a simple-to-use material to fill potholes. He is now calling on others to do their bit by either volunteering to help out, or by putting themselves forward to be trained as a road warden and lead their own team of pothole hunters.

Cllr Stuart Hughes flattens the material into the pothole. Ref shs 16-16SH 1179. Picture: Simon Horn

Cllr Stuart Hughes flattens the material into the pothole. Ref shs 16-16SH 1179. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant


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However, Cllr Hughes said that, so far, he was the only Sidmouth resident to take up the opportunity to be trained.

He added that the scheme gave residents, who were usually the first to notice such issues, the power to keep roads in a better condition - and for longer.

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“If you catch them [potholes] quick enough, you can stop the whole road from becoming an issue and prevent the hole from becoming a major defect, helping to prolong the life of the road,” said Cllr Hughes.

DCC has already trained around 60 people as road wardens to save on maintenance fees.

Cllr Stuart Hughes flattens the material into the pothole. Ref shs 16-16SH 1179. Picture: Simon Horn

Cllr Stuart Hughes flattens the material into the pothole. Ref shs 16-16SH 1179. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Cllr Hughes said: “We’ve all been shown how to carry out the repairs with the material and it seems to be a quick and easy way to deal with smaller potholes on minor roads before they develop into safety defects that the county council has to repair.

“There are many good examples of local communities working with us to help themselves, as our budgets from central Government are continuing to be reduced every year.

“The road wardens are not replacing county council staff - their role is to help with more minor maintenance work that we can no longer do.”

Each road warden will act as their area’s highways ‘champion’ – providing support accessing information, as well as organising and carrying out minor work such as weed clearance, grass cutting, sign cleaning and small drainage work.

Larger potholes, which meet the safety defect criteria, will continue to be fixed by DCC.

Road wardens will be covered by a third-party public liability insurance allowing them to use tools provided by the authority.

A number of people have taken to the Herald’s Facebook to voice their views on the matter - with one person questioning what they paid their council tax for.

Others also expressed similar objections, asking why residents were being expected to pick up the slack. Another suggested residents ‘on the dole’ should ‘fill a hole’.

What do you think? Email sidmouth.letters@archant.co.uk

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