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POTHOLES – so much more than a bump in the road - By Richard Linden, Liberal Democrat spokesperson.

POTHOLES – so much more than a bump in the road – By Richard Linden, Liberal Democrat spokesperson.

POTHOLES – so much more than a bump in the road - By Richard Linden, Liberal Democrat spokesperson.

POTHOLES – so much more than a bump in the road – By Richard Linden, Liberal Democrat spokesperson.

Potholes in our roads have always been a problem. Historically potters dug out the compacted mud from the rutted roads to make their wares, hence the name (they must have been unpopular!).

Rayleigh has been hit by a major pothole problem lately and we can’t blame pottery workers. The bad state of our roads comes as a result of cold weather followed by heavy rains and years of neglect. In some cases these can be described as mini sink holes. They damage vehicle suspension and tyres and create a road safety hazards, when drivers lurch left or right to avoid potholes, risking confrontation with approaching vehicles or god forbid, pedestrians.

To be fair to the Essex Highways staff, when we recently reported highly dangerous potholes in Station Road to County’s emergency hotline (as did 30 other residents), the Highways Repair Team came out quickly and made a very basic temporary repair.

Essex County Councillors are able to nominate a certain number of potholes for repair in their ‘Division’. Lib Dem County Councillor James Newport has been thorough in exploiting every opportunity to get potholes repaired in his Rayleigh North Division and was the only County Councillor in Rochford District to use all his nominations rights, but there is still a lot to do.

Lib Dem District Councillor Andy Cross, in Rayleigh South where we have no Liberal Democrat County Councillor, also had some success getting potholes repaired and streetlighting replaced, but without County Council support, his success is inevitably limited.

The main problem here is funding. Yes it is all about the money. Conservative run Essex County Council are planning severe cuts to their Highways Maintenance budget – 50% cut for road maintenance by 2025 (from £42.8 million down to £21.51 million). It is just not credible given the state of our roads today. No doubt the Conservatives on Essex will blame the Tories at Westminster, but that gives no answer to the problem.

The Lib Dem County Group have vigorously opposed these dangerous budget cuts. In their alternate budget they allocated money for better Highway Maintenance – this was rejected by the Conservatives.  The Lib Dems believe that putting off these essential maintenance repairs today could lead to disasters ‘down the road’.

Finally, please spare a thought for cyclists. Every day they are taking risks trying to navigate the numerous potholes on main and side roads. At this time, when we are trying to encourage cycling as an eco friendly means of transport, we should not be making it more dangerous.

£1.6 million of resident’s money wasted – The truth is finally out, Conservative-ruled Rochford District Council has wasted a staggering £1.6 million on their pet project the ‘Asset Delivery Programme’ (some have renamed it the Asset Disaster Programme). This was the scheme the Tories dreamt up with consultants to strip the authority of nearly all its assets.

They came up with plans to destroy public facilities throughout the District, in Rayleigh they hoped to demolish our Mill Hall and Civic Suite and allow property developers to build private flats and high density housing on these sites within our Conservation Area.

Together with others, the Lib Dems saved Mill Hall and hope to save the Civic Suite. The Council have nothing to show for this huge amount of public money being wasted, the whole plan was against the wishes of local people, as given in the Council’s own public consultation and a huge Lib Dem petition.

Conservatives rejecting their own party in droves – Conservative supporters and even Tory Councillors have been turning their back on the party.

This has resulted in the Conservatives losing control of Rochford District Council ‘before’ the May elections. The Lib Dems are asking people to carefully consider whether the Conservatives deserve their continued loyalty or should they vote for a party who listen and act in their interest.

Voter ID is anti-democratic – The government has decreed that in future everyone voting in person must have some sort of specified photographic identification.

This is another Conservative disaster waiting to happen, because many people do not have the right identification or may forget to bring it to the Polling Station. It will cause delays, confusion and result in a drop in voter turnout. The old adage ‘If it isn’t broke don’t fix it’ comes to mind. According to the Electoral Commission there were only 2 cases of voter fraud in 2019, tens of millions voted that year.

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