Speech To Lincolnshire County Council On St Bernards Avenue
January 5th 2018
St Bernard's Avenue is one of Louth's main arteries. It connects the town with major residential estates, with the Meridian Leisure Centre, and it's close to both the Lacey Gardens primary school and the combined police, fire and ambulance stations on Eastfield Road. The road is in Trinity ward, where 258 houses are either currently being built or have planning permission for building. In Louth as a whole now, 1187 homes are either being built or have existing planning permissions, and hundreds of other homes are proposed. So St Bernard's Avenue will only get busier.
The road is built over concrete bays which are disintegrating. Although about a third of the road was restored recently, and is smooth, the remaining two thirds is pitted with holes which need frequent repairs. These short-term fixes typically last only a couple of months before they need to be done again.
There are many negative effects of this neglect. Some residents of St Bernard's Avenue have told me that their whole houses shake when large vehicles drive past over potholes. Some people have medical conditions which mean driving across an uneven road is agony. If some are prevented from travelling as a result, that is discriminatory.
The pitted road presents a bad image of Louth, and this negative perception is detrimental to local tourism.
And then there's the cost of vehicle repair. I've spoken to many locals who have spent hundreds, or even low thousands of pounds on repairing their vehicles as a result of driving over potholes.
To quote one petition signatory, Steve D: "I'm signing this because as a cyclist this road has already cost me a wheel. The only place to ride a bike to avoid the potholes is down the middle of the road."
Sometimes drivers will be able to claim from the council, but more often not. So don't say there's no money. Whether it's the council paying or individual drivers and cyclists, somebody always foots the bill for these repairs.
However, some things can't be fixed with money. Cyclists risk ploughing into oncoming traffic when they swerve to avoid the holes, or coming off their bikes and injuring themselves if they don't. In 2015, at least 46 cyclists were killed or seriously injured as a result of unsafe road surfaces in the UK.
The persistent potholes on St Bernard's Avenue make this busy route far more dangerous than it should be. As county councillors many of your decisions are life or death, and the highways portfolio is no exception.
860 people signed this petition asking you to resurface this road properly. So I'll finish with a plea: don't leave it another two years or longer. Don't let the next tragic statistic happen on your watch.
You can watch the speech on YouTube - this petition starts at 4 minutes 45 seconds.
I am awaiting an official response to this petition from the portfolio holder for Highways and IT.
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