Column: Our commitment to improving the county's roads for you remains as strong as ever

If you cast your mind back to the recent elections, we’re sure it won’t surprise you to know that the biggest issue on the doorstep was roads maintenance and potholes, says Coun Neil Clarke, from Nottinghamshire County Council.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 12:00 am
Coun Neil Clarke MBE, chairman of transport and evironment committee at Nottinghamshire County Council. (Photo credit: Tracey Whitefoot)

We’ve listened to this, and in the weeks following the election, we set up a cross-party highways review panel to look at how we currently do things and make a plan for improvement.

This panel is made up of members from all political parties, and we got stuck straight in with discussing how we can make improvements to how we repair and maintain roads across Nottinghamshire.

I’m pleased to say that we now have a series of recommendations which were unanimously approved by the panel.

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Most recently, these recommendations were approved by our transport and environment committee, meaning that we can now look at how we’re going to make them a reality.

But before I explain some of the recommendations, I think it’s important to tell you a bit about how we got to where we are now.

The panel met with the Local Government Association as well as an industry expert and councils of similar sizes to hear how they do things.

This was a really important part of the process because it helped us to understand our current position and learn about how we might do things differently.

'Please rest assured that our commitment is as strong as ever to improving the county’s roads for you', says guest columnist Coun Neil Clarke from Nottinghamshire County Council.

These discussions confirmed that we are in a very similar situation to many other local authorities and that the way we work with our service delivery partner - Via East Midlands, which is wholly owned by the county council - has been verified as being good – although there is always room for improvement and change.

So how are we going to make things better for you?

That’s the question that we have had in mind throughout and one that will continue to be at the heart of how we move forward.

One of the recommendations we are looking to take forward is moving from a one-year programme of investment to a three-year scheme.

For you, this will mean that you will be able to see more clearly what our future plans are for your area and when repairs are scheduled.

We know that prevention is better than cure, and so we’re keen to adopt a way of working which means we focus more on longer term permanent repairs rather than a quick-fix repair.

We will of course still have to make emergency repairs to keep the roads safe for you, but on the whole, we hope to make repairs last longer, reducing the need for repeat visits.

Have you ever seen our highways teams in your area and wondered what they are doing? Well, we want to improve how we communicate with you about what we’re doing and when so that you are better informed about our work.

You may have heard of the MyNotts App which is a great way of reporting highways issues to us, and if you’ve not downloaded it already, I would encourage you to as this will be at the centre of how you can report defects to us going forward.

The app can be downloaded from either the Google Play store or the App Store.

We are also wanting to increase our focus on local unclassified roads and footways. We’re keen to encourage active travel, and so the focus on footways will be extremely important moving forwards.

As part of the review, we looked at our current and future use of technology for road repair and maintenance and our climate change commitments featured heavily within this.

One of the recommendations of the review is to further our drive to ensuring we’re using the latest proven innovations and technology, which includes the use of recycled materials.

Our review wasn’t restricted to just the road and footway surface. We also looked at other issues such as drainage, gulley cleaning and verge maintenance.

But what next? Well, now that the recommendations have approval from our transport and environment committee here at Nottinghamshire County Council, we will be looking at how we can bring these into reality.

It’s important to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight, but please rest assured that our commitment is as strong as ever to improving the county’s roads for you.

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