Call for council to use its emergency powers to fix potholes over safety concerns

A potholed speedbump outside Lodge Park in Shetland Way, Corby. Image: National WorldA potholed speedbump outside Lodge Park in Shetland Way, Corby. Image: National World
A potholed speedbump outside Lodge Park in Shetland Way, Corby. Image: National World
‘What is needed now is emergency action’

Opposition councillors have called on the Tory administration at North Northamptonshire Council to invoke emergency powers to fast-track essential road repairs.

Labour members say the roads are in such a terrible state in Corby that the authority must ‘take action to return them to ‘at the very least a basic, reasonable state’.

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During the winter months the roads have greatly deteriorated leading to serious complaints being made across social media from hundreds of members of the public.

North Northamptonshire Council is ultimately responsible for the state of the roads, although it subcontracts the work to Kier as part of a contract worth £30m per year.

Now councillors have issued a statement to express their concern over the safety of road users and have asked NNC to act immediately.

In nearby Buckinghamshire the emergency powers were enacted last year . They mean that councils can close roads at short notice, without giving the requisite notice to the public, in order to fix them.

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A statement from senior Corby Labour members said: “Our roads are hazardous in terms of reduced safety to drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians but also because of the increasingly frequent costs incurred by having to repair our tyres, windscreens and body work on our cars and bikes.

"Why are the roads in such a poor state? Is it the impact of the winter weather or years of Tory neglect; a lack of investment and therefore no regular road maintenance?”

They said that the council should ‘without question’ be using its emergency powers, alongside the flexibility of the new highway contracts, to fast track the essential road repairs required.

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NNC Labour Highways Spokesman Cllr Simon Rielly (Lab, Oakley) said: “Why haven’t North Northants Council got teams carrying out emergency surfacing and pothole repairs? There are numerous black spots around our town, some potholes so deep and wide you could do significant damage to your vehicles. They are akin to craters in some areas.

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"As a pedestrian it’s also unnerving to see vehicles suddenly swerving towards you in order to avoid plunging into a pothole. Some stretches of road across Corby are just plain dangerous. It’s not acceptable to anyone.

"The Government unveiled a new funding plan for highways and of course there needs to be a plan of long term investment but what is needed now is emergency action.”“I have listened back to Tory NNC Leader Jason Smithers’ interview on BBC Radio Northampton. He repeated messages about all this funding we are getting from the Government which is going to make such a massive difference. Well when? He talks about the future being ‘better than ever’. So far, other than some extra funding re-assigned from HS2, what is going to change about how our highways are tackled?

"There is such a backlog of defects because of years of neglect. How much of this backlog will this extra funding resolve and how does he plan to ensure that highways don't get into the same state again? As a hugely frustrated road user, I for one would like to know.”

Corby Town Council Leader Cllr Mark Pengelly said: "The state of the roads in North Northants and in Corby where I am a councillor are a disgrace and it has been put to me it is like living in a third world country.

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"Residents are really concerned about the state of roads in Corby, and it is a major topic in workplaces, cafes, pubs, social media etc. It is costing my residents thousands of pounds in car repairs as result of damage from the condition of our roads.

"These are not new potholes, many were reported six months ago. We have seen a continued long-term failure of the contractor, the contract is not working, and we are all witnesses that it is failing. Who is going to take responsibility for these failures and take steps to remedy these failures?”

Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Corby Lee Barron said: “I've knocked doors all over the constituency from Kingswood to Kings Cliffe and it is the main issue people are talking about.

"Keeping the roads of Corby and North Northants moving is an absolute priority for our local economy. I am worried that someone will be severely injured or even killed, the roads are dangerous, and we need action now.

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“We urge people to continue to report any highways defects through the app and we will continue to lobby for work to be done. You, the residents, deserve better.”

NNC Leader Cllr Jason Smithers (Con, Oundle) said: “As a council, investing in local highways is a priority and we are committed to improving transport infrastructure including local roads. Further funding is due to be discussed at executive in the coming weeks. This follows the £49.1million previously allocated in our Capital programme for 2024 - 2028, which includes £16 million for potholes repairs.”