Sunday, 8 March 2009

When is a 'pothole' actionable?

To take fairly large liberties with, if not to massacre, one of the famous Shakespearean quotes - "To be or not to be a pothole" - that is the question.

Well it would seem that the answer to this question depends on which Greater Manchester borough you live in.

Having had discussions with various cyclists and council officers it seems that despite having a Greater Manchester wide travel authority there is no common agreement of when a 'sharp edge trip' is a pothole and when it becomes 'actionable' e.g. meets the criteria to be repaired.

Each Council uses its own assessment criteria which also takes into account where the pothole is located (busy street or quiet backstreet) etc. But one of the main criteria is how long the 'sharp edge trip' is - or in other words, how deep is the pothole. Basically a pothole in Salford has to be twice the size of a Wigan pothole before being repaired (see details below).

Sharp edge trip Council
50mm Salford

40mm Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford

35mm Rochdale

30mm Manchester (* see update below).

25mm Wigan

It seems strange that one Council can class a pothole 25mm deep as 'actionable' (read potentially dangerous) and yet same pothole would not be repaired by any of the other nine Greater Manchester councils.

Isn't it time we had a common criteria for repairing (dangerous) potholes across all roads in Greater Manchester?

* Update: A race to the bottom ?

A report to the Manchester City Council 'Communities and Neighbourhoods Overview and Scrutiny Committee' on 16th November 2010 detailed how:

"With effect from 30th November 2009, Highway Inspectors are required to record and action footway defects deeper than 20mm and carriageway defects deeper than 30mm on busy City Centre Streets and at well usedcrossing points elsewhere in the City, but the intervention level for all other highway locations is 25mm in the footway and 40mm in the carriageway. Prior to this date the intervention level had been 20mm and 30mm for footways and carriageways respectively throughout the whole of the City. The intervention levels adopted by the Greater Manchester Districts are all slightly different however, the decision to slacken Manchester’s levels brings them more in line with the values used by the other districts. The change also means that expenditure on the repair of defects is not being incurred any sooner than is necessary to offer a defence against accident claims." (Page 31) [Emphasis added].

Definitely a move in the wrong direction.....

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