Hang them all

Devon County Council has road repair backlog that would cost £750m to fix
Council signed up more than 55 residents to help fill potholes in local areas
But a year on, the team has been unable to fix a single one due to red tape

That multi-person gallows is taking a long time, isn’t it?

50 thoughts on “Hang them all”

  1. >That multi-person gallows is taking a long time, isn’t it?

    That’s because it has to go through council approval, and consequently there’s all this red tape…

  2. Beat not bit.

    Mind you I was bitten by a dog a few months ago-at least I thought it was a dog. And it was full moon a few days ago.

    Ah well like the man said

    “I used to be a werewolf but I’m alright NNOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWW.”

  3. Some people within Devon CC probably do not want volunteers to fill potholes, because they want the locals to feel the pain of the cuts. Meanwhile, the CEO and the Directorate will be doing even less for their six-figure salaries and excellent pensions. Bureaucracies almost invariably cut services before staff, and the senior managers protect their own interests.

  4. “Council signed up more than 55 residents to help fill potholes in local areas”
    Sounds like insanity, to me. Not surprised it’s bogged down in “red tape”. Heaven knows where the legal liabilities would fall with something like that.
    Losses arising from a faulty repair.
    Losses arising from a resident being run over doing a repair.

    These things sound simple & sensible. Until…

  5. @CalFord,

    and that’s before elf’n’safety have done their risk assessment for said multi-person gallows.

  6. BiS has it. 55 volunteers aren’t going to be able to repair a road any more quickly, cheaply, and easily than a proper experienced road repair crew. The problem is, the CC probably doesn’t have any of them either.

  7. Easy solution to this, buy the people who work in the county councils highways office a shovel and a hi vis jacket each and get them out doing it.It amazes me that even though the council can’t afford to maintain the highways network they can afford a “head of highways” with all the associated admin/office workers to tell us all that they have no money to fix the roads…

  8. Also FFS what sort of a half wit goes and spends god only knows how much on a “report a problem” website when they apparently don’t have the money to “fix a problem” in the first place…

  9. @rossocepeco
    ‘Also FFS what sort of a half wit goes and spends god only knows how much on a “report a problem” website when they apparently don’t have the money to “fix a problem” in the first place…’

    The sort of halfwit who ‘earns’ £200k pa having realised that many British people are stupid, weak types with very low attention spans who can be persuaded to hashtag stuff on Twitter but not actually get off their arses, and who are persuaded by smoke, mirrors and PR.

  10. I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth repeating:

    Whilst I was living in France, in a small village, a hole appeared in the road outside the apartment. Farm traffic chews it up. Irritating, because of the bomp-bomp all night as vehicles passed
    Friday night I saw the mayor of the commune, in the bar,& mentioned it to her. Tuesday morning, 8:30 am, a truck stops outside. Guy shovels a couple shovels full of tarmac out onto the road, jumps down, fills hole, levels with back of shovel. Lorry backs & forwards couple times so tyre tamps repair. Guy gets in cab & truck moves off. 3 minutes total.
    But that’s France.

  11. BiS: how long did the repair last though?

    Here in Edinburgh we’ve gone through a spell of these quick bodges but they don’t stand up to high levels of traffic, especially from heavy buses (a big problem apparently as the local bus firm fleet is now far heavier than in the past)

    I read a local Edinburgh forum where there is often quite detailed technical engineering discussions about road repair. The posters seem to know what they are talking about, and all echo Tim N’s point that quick and cheap repairs just don’t last in urban traffic environments.

    Edinburgh council seems to be taking a more thorough approach recently, which means that here are some major bits of road resurfacing going on. Hopefully will make a difference longer term.

  12. That’s Britain – pay council tax but still end up having to do it yourself. I didn’t think that principle would ever apply to road repairs though.

  13. As I drive around I have noticed signs all over for roads or on/off ramps closed overnight, probably for resurfacing. Coming back from Joe Bonamassa’s gig in Brighton last Sat the signs on the M23 said M25 was shut between J19-21. You would expect a continuing low level of this but the concentrated high-level activity, especially in summer, has been going on for a year or two now. I guess the ‘years of plenty’ under Blair/Brown didn’t extend to timely road maintenance.

  14. @GD
    At least the year I was there.
    Filling potholes quickly is, I’d imagine, cost effective. Even if it’s a temporary repair. At that point, it’s a hole can be fixed in 3 minutes. Get the harvest season’s worth of trucks & combines crashing through & enlarging it, then the winter’s frost working on it & six months later you’ve a hole halfway across the road with a missing cow at the bottom.
    This was deepest rural France but I reckon they’ve got better roads than almost anywhere in the UK. Roads round here (Sussex) look like they’re raising a potato crop on them.

  15. “Coming back … Brighton last Sat the signs on the M23 said M25 was shut between J19-21.”
    Tell me about it. Half the time I use the M23 they’ve slip roads or lanes closed. But the next time I see it, it doesn’t look any different.
    But then it’s road closure & diversions to change a lightbulb, isn’t it?

  16. It’s not necessary for volunteers to fix potholes. Have a whip round and do a deal with the contractors the council uses. They would probably be glad of the work. All paperwork in order and a proper job done.

  17. £750m? Considering a whole new two lane bridge over a floodplain is less than £50m I think the council (or the Daily Mail) is rather overstating the numbers, or the council are paying a hell of a lot for work…

  18. We’ve just gone up into our attic to provide extra bedrooms to get the kids further away from us. We need a cheap functional hard wearing carpet that you can clean when the idiots spill food and make-up and god knows what else all over it. So we went to Carpetright who sold us an actually quite nice carpet for a couple of grand that will do the job.

    I digress because I’m actually talking about fitters. Chap I play cricket with in the village is a carpet fitter so I was going to use him, but he told me to go through Carpetright (who sub him and all the other fitters in the area and do it for prices he can’t compete with. Yes, he loses money this way but he’s a mate.)

    This is because he has three prices.

    1. Carpetright’s – where he and his oppo will come out and fit the stairs and 100sq m of attic space for £195 inc VAT.

    2. His own out-of-Yellow-Pages price, which would be around £350 + VAT (two blokes, most of the day).

    3. The price the council pay him when he occasionally fits carpets in their many buildings. That price is £350 + VAT per day per man.

    Milton Friedman said it all, really.

  19. France really does have some excellent road surfaces, even on minor roads. From my experience bad surfaces are the exception, whereas in Btitain they tend to be the rule (I am talking about minor roads).

  20. From my experience bad surfaces are the exception, whereas in Btitain they tend to be the rule (I am talking about minor roads).

    Major roads too: my car suspension has yet to forgive me for thinking the M20 in England was paved like the A16 in France when I came out of the tunnel.

  21. Going back to Glen Dorran’s comment above:
    “I read a local Edinburgh forum where there is often quite detailed technical engineering discussions about road repair. ”
    It surprises me how much road patching is still low-tech.
    I’ve used a lot of catalysed resins (two part fillers for you lot) for repairs & structural work. If I wanted to do a speedy, cheap, small, surface repair I’d probably be looking at using a resin/aggregate mix. Tough as concrete & with the right accelerators it’d be usable in an hour or two. The materials themselves are pricier but the real costs* are always labour.
    If I was doing a lot of it, I’d be thinking about designing machinery would squirt this stuff in holes straight off the vehicle. Maybe preceding it with a hot air blast to dry the substrate to get good adhesion.
    Don’t know. maybe they do this now. Although I’ve never seen it. Would it be in the highway repair contractor’s interest to cut repair costs? Like I said above, fixing a hole in the road is like darning a hole in your jeans. Catch it when it’s small & it’s quick & easy. Wait until you’ve a rip right across your knee & it’s a new pair.

    *And overall costs. The costs to road users from the delays arising from that lane closure can be astronomical

  22. BiS:

    Are you referring to Spray Injection Patching? I think that’s used extensively in the UK.

    (I’m not remotely an engineer, so I’m just repeating phrases I’ve read on that other forum. A job in a council traffic department awaits me….)

  23. Come to think of it, a thermoplastic/aggregate mix (PVC) might work even better. Cheap & if forced chilled, could be hard in minutes. Maybe pre-chill the aggregate before the mixing stage.

  24. I haven’t the vaguest idea. The street repairs in London, when they’re done, seem to require cones, signs, lot of blokes standing about, tarmac & about a week.

  25. BiS and TN

    Some housing associations have volunteers to attend to minor repairs – to gates, doors, locks, fences. Insurers have no problem with volunteers doing minor housing repairs, providing they have been trained in what they can and cannot do (ie no plumbing, no electrics), have relevant expertise and have signed to say they’ve read all relevant policies (eg H & S).

    What’s so different about temporary repairs to roads? The hole gets filled, the risks to road users are minimised, and an essentially unskilled task is completed cheaply. Major road repairs are for the specialists, but minor ones could be dealt with by volunteers. Surely only vested interests would disagree?

  26. “. Bureaucracies almost invariably cut services before staff, ” Here in Norfolk the Council is whining in the EDP (local paper, which prints what it’s told …) about cuts to Libraries, Carers and so on. Oddly no consideration of reducing the nonentities who work and County Hall.

  27. “But then it’s road closure & diversions to change a lightbulb, isn’t it?”

    The increasing thing is complete road closures, of main roads. We recently had a section of the A47 between Guyhirn and Wisbech shut off – about 4 miles. The recommended diversion was about 40 miles round.

  28. The article says there are 11.5k pot holes which makes it about 65k quid per hole. Good work if you can get it.

  29. Two comments here.
    Going back “a few years” I got involved via a club with maintenance of some of the unsurfaced roads in the area – most commonly referred to as “green lanes”. It went fairly well, the national park authority were in favour (ish), the county council were in favour, we were in favour, and they’d worked out how to deal with the legalities since these were repairs to “public roads”.
    Unfortunately, certain groups were most certainly not in favour – and before long “technicalities” were thought of as to why us volunteers couldn’t do it, and un unwieldily complicated system was put in place that effectively killed the process. Result, the roads continues to deteriorate due to lack of maintenance – a win for those who could then point the finger and (falsely) say it was the vehicles causing all the damage.

    BUt back to the subject of temporary repairs and patches. I recall maaaany years ago, Tomorrows World (well that dates it doesn’t it) had a piece where a lorry turned up, one man grabbed an “oversized garden blower” run from the rig on the lorry and set to. In seconds he’d : blown all the crap and water out of the hole, sprayed it with a lining of hot bitumen, filled it with a mix of hot bitumen and gravel, and topped it with a layer of clean gravel impacted into the surface. Under a minute for a repair !
    Never seen or heard of it since !

  30. Paul @ 4.28pm

    Quite so. Same in Suffolk, though I’m currently in Spain where the roads are very poor.

  31. Simon @ 4.50pm

    Thanks for that.

    Though BiS thinks it “sounds like insanity”, until he remembers it can be done in France…and is low tech.

    And TN agrees, believing that volunteers couldn’t fill a pothole more quickly or cheaply than an experienced road crew.


  32. @Theo, Paul

    Standard local government procedure: cut essential services, axe libraries and services for the elderly and then say ‘ooh, them Tories’. The £200k pa cunts might even say it in their own expensive newsletter, delivered more often than they pick the bins up.

    A friend of mine recently had a very well paid temporary job as ‘hatchet woman’ for the press department of a rural county council. Her task? Cut the number of PR people from 25 to 18…

    Local government staff can generally be broken down as follows:
    25%: worthless, incompetent management
    25%: lazy skiving arseholes (generally ‘sick’ half the year)
    25%: decent hard-working people doing something entirely worthless, pointless and redundant
    25%: Overworked, stressed miserable people trying to do something useful in a fucked-up organisation.

  33. Part of the problem in London is the road design. Cramming two lanes onto a road so the inside lanes full of buses and lorries runs over the drain covers collapsing them over time.

  34. [email protected]: We’ve just been to Spain for a week’s holiday, staying about midway between Murcia & Almeria. Landed at San Javier, picked up a hire car & then was totally blown away by the road quality & lack of traffic on the AP7 & A7. OK, this was late evening but on the trip back during the day it wasn’t much busier. Motoring around in the area the minor roads were good too.

  35. Do you guys realise that the council will send a bloke out with a buck of tarmac and fill in a hole if you report it? All councils have a ‘pothole line’:


    Once they are told about it then they are liable for damage caused if they don’t repair it asap. Hence why the roads look like the surface of the moon in places – bits of tarmac roughly filling in potholes all over the place. One bit of road I travel frequently would do good service on a 4×4 test track.

    As for the ‘red tape’ holding up the council in this case, I can fully comprehend why the council don’t want random volunteers filling in potholes. Not because they want the roads to be unrepaired, but because the problems such a ‘workforce’ would cause would be immense. Firstly, who would be liable for the quality of the work? Who would be liable for accidents caused by incorrect/non-existent roadworks signs? Would the volunteers be able to sue if they get run over or injure themselves ‘at work’? I bet the volunteer’s community spirit might be a bit less in evidence if they’re just had a RTA and are on life support. Then they’d be looking to sue whoever had some cash. And guess what, that’d be the council, or rather the poor old taxpayer.

    At the end of the day its not 1950 any more, you can’t have random OAPs and do-gooders trying to fix roads. Its just not on. There are standards and liablities to consider, and by the time you’ve sorted all that out you might as well have spent it on proper contractors.

  36. Jim

    I’m not talking about “random volunteers”. I am talking about trained volunteers with relevant skills – to do the largely unskilled task of filling minor potholes with tarmacadam, promptly. And the H & S, legal and insurance issues you mention are all surmountable.

    I recently reported a pothole to the council. Someone visited within 48 hours. Then two johnnies turned up to fix it a week later, but decided it was too big a job for them. A fortnight later, it was fixed. So over three weeks…

    And, while we’re on the subject, volunteers could help run museums, libraries, parks….Then my local council could perhaps afford to empty my bin weekly instead of fortnightly.

  37. Philip Scott Thomas

    ..like darning a hole in your jeans. Catch it when it’s small & it’s quick & easy. Wait until you’ve a rip right across your knee & it’s a new pair.

    Heh. Jeans ripped out at the knee is my natural state. 🙂

  38. @Theophrastus
    It sounded like insanity to me because it is public roads. And that why the “technicalities” knocked it on the head. I used to carry millions of pounds worth of liability insurance. And have to abide by strict health & safety rules. Means all the employees have to have H&S training. Whose insurance is covering if anyone gets hurt or killed? Who are “volunteers” responsible to?This isn’t fixing garden gate hinges. Motorbike front wheel hits a poorly filled hole & you’ve got some guy paralysed in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

    I’m a great believer in appropriate tech.& for a secondary road in a French village, minimum tech’s the best solution. Cheap & quick. But the people who use the roads do f****g pay for them. Through the nose. The same low tech isn’t the answer for major conduits. But that’s our wonderful public sector for you. Save a few bob so the management get better pot plants. Meanwhile the consequential costs to road users of traffic holdups are running at thousands of pounds a minute per hole.

    Mr Tractor.
    You’re talking about my road! Built specially for me. (But why can’t they get the Almunecar to Adra stretch sorted? Hundred’s of kilometers of beautiful highway with a length of two lane blacktop in the middle of it. Bloody D..os! Have to go all the way up past Granada) But it is a beaut, isn’t it? !000km’s a day road. I’ll soon be able to go Alicante for lunch.

  39. What’s so different about temporary repairs to roads?

    A road is supposed to be built, and repaired, to a specification. Locks, fences, doors etc. don’t.

    But the main reason is one of efficiency: holes in roads are usually remote – and well spaced – and these sorts of repairs are most efficiently dealt with by a roving team with the correct kit and materials, rather than groups of individuals.

  40. I am talking about trained volunteers with relevant skills – to do the largely unskilled task of filling minor potholes with tarmacadam, promptly.

    You have seen road repair crews, right? The bitumen is poured in hot, and needs to be handled carefully. It also needs specialist equipment to heat it. Where do the volunteers get this equipment from? Where do they get the bitumen from? Who supplies the protective gear? Who trains the guy who does the heating, or doesn’t he need any?

    By the time you’ve answered these, a proper crew is looking a lot more efficient.

  41. This isn’t about efficiency. Any country where the state takes >30% of GDP they need to keep the roads in good condition without resorting to volunteers.

  42. My favourite “working for the council” story was told to me by a mate, a welder, works on the rigs.
    He needed to be ashore a while & went got a job on the council. First day he’s given some gates to make. So he goes draws his steel stock, marks his gates out on the floor, cuts the steel & welds it up. Go sees the foreman to ask what he should do, after lunch. He said the bloke went mental, Told him to go cut it up, lose the pieces. That was a week’s work been booked.

  43. works on the rigs

    The story must be old. If he’s worked on the modern rigs, the gates would have been ready in 2-3 years time and would have cost $1m+, most of which could be attributed to dozens of people having meetings in offices back on shore.

  44. @TimN
    I get the impression The Biggun’s employed below the “cut” where being able to hack the job’s what gets the job & keeps the job. Least, last I heard, he was working with Aitch, who’s a contractor. So it’s his money going in the buff envelopes..
    Which side of the cut are you?

  45. Which side of the cut are you?

    Sat in an office watching billions go down the drain out of pure stupidity. I’ll be on the other side for most of the rest of my career, I expect.

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