‘Road cash won’t fix half of Sunderland potholes’

Velocity managing director Dominic Gardner and the team.
Velocity managing director Dominic Gardner and the team.
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GOVERNMENT cash to tackle the state of Britain’s roads is not enough says the Sunderland businessman leading the war on potholes.

Velocity managing director Dominic Gardner, pictured right, welcomed a £6billion national pothole fund announced this month but warned it fell far short of what was needed.

The Department of Transport has allocated the cash for councils to repair an estimated 18million potholes across England and Wales over the next six years.

Last week, the Echo reported that Sunderland City Council is to get more than £9million to deal with Wearside’s pothole problems.

The local authority will receive £3.3million in the financial year 2015/16, £3.03million in 2016/17 and £2.93million in 2017/18.

Velocity says it has repaired more than 400,000 potholes in 2014 and Mr Gardner said the money was less than half of what was needed to bring the nation’s roads back to acceptable levels.

And he firm expressed disappointment at a “raw deal” for North East councils.

“This funding isn’t going to save Britain’s roads,” said Mr Gardner.

“The Asphalt Industry Alliance has estimated that £12billion is needed now to get Britain’s roads back into reasonable condition. So £6billion over six years is only half of what is needed – and the nation’s roads will deteriorate further in that time. The level of funding allocated is nowhere near enough to solve the nation’s pothole epidemic but it is clear that, in difficult economic circumstances, the government has tried to take a long-term view.

“Although it is disappointing the funds have not been ring-fenced to ensure they are spent purely on road preservation, it is positive that councils are being incentivised to spend these funds on roads and to look for innovative long-term solutions.”

North East councils have been allocated up to £268million over the next six years, considerably less than other areas of England and Wales.

“We’re disappointed the North East appears to have lost out compared to wealthier areas of the country,” said Mr Gardner.

In the past year, Velocity has worked in Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton, but the bulk of the its work was carried out in Herefordshire, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Cheshire East, Gloucester, Suffolk, Derbyshire and Bedfordshire.

“We’re a proud North East company that spends of most of its time fixing the roads in other parts of the country,” said Mr Gardner. However, we are targeting the North East for growth in 2015. We are confident we can help our local authorities make the best of this shortage of funding.”

Velocity say its hi-tech machines can permanently repair a pothole in about two minutes – a fraction of the time it takes a conventional repair gang to manually lay a short-term fix - and that each of its crews can repair more than 200 potholes per day.