Calls over rise in backlog for urgent and emergency road repairs in Sunderland

An opposition councillor has called for more investment into Sunderland’s roads after claiming demand for repairs is at “crisis point”.
Lib Dem councillor For Pallion And Ford Estate, Martin HaswellLib Dem councillor For Pallion And Ford Estate, Martin Haswell
Lib Dem councillor For Pallion And Ford Estate, Martin Haswell

According to highways data, Sunderland City Council is facing a backlog of more than 300 20-day repair orders.

This is linked to a 976% increase in five-day urgent orders and 25% increase in 24-hour emergency orders, compared against 2017 levels.

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City leaders say they have invested millions of pounds into highways in the past, with more funding sidelined for future years.

Leader of Sunderland City Council, Coun Graeme MillerLeader of Sunderland City Council, Coun Graeme Miller
Leader of Sunderland City Council, Coun Graeme Miller

But Lib Dem councillor Martin Haswell, who uncovered the figures in a written question to council, said Labour bosses should have brought roads up to scratch earlier.

“For years opposition Lib Dem councillors on Sunderland City Council have stood shoulder to shoulder with local residents who are sick to the back teeth of crumbling roads in our communities,” he said.

“These shocking statistics show that the scale of the road repair backlog has now reached crisis point and will, I suspect, cost more to fix than if the council had prioritised maintaining our roads in the first place.

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“Instead those in charge of the council have let our roads get into such a state that there has been a whopping and shocking 976% increase in urgent road repairs.”

The most serious traffic orders – ‘24-hour emergency’ – include an imminent risk to public safety while five-day orders are linked to large scale projects which require additional resources.

A council response to the written question adds it’s not possible to give a timescale in which the 20-day order backlog will be addressed.

Sunderland City Council’s leader, Coun Graeme Miller, has defended the council’s record around improving city infrastructure.

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“As a consequence of austerity introduced by the Lib Dem-Conservative coalition Government in 2010, the council had to make some very hard decisions in its budgets,” he said.

“Nevertheless, this council recognises the importance of good roads and pavements to our residents, businesses and visitors.

“In the last four years an extra £9.75 million has been invested in our highways network.

“This extra investment has seen many more roads and paths being fully or partially resurfaced than would have been possible by government money alone.

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“More than 200 road and footpath projects are in this year’s works programme.”

Coun Miller stressed the council is committed to a further £11.5 million of investment into highway assets over the next three years.

He added: “This is as well as new infrastructure such as the award-winning Northern Spire and the dual carriageway into the city centre which are bringing forward more development and investment.

“The council does not see investment, or indeed day to day work caring for the young and vulnerable, as ‘vanity projects’.”

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The council’s highways department prioritises works on a continuous basis taking into account the level and nature of faults reported.

This includes managing a ‘highways asset maintenance revenue budget’ to make sure the most dangerous defects are prioritised.

In the last four years, 59 miles of roads and footpaths have been fully or partially resurfaced across the city.

What types of traffic orders do Sunderland City Council carry out?

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24-hour emergency orders – Imminent risk to public safety Five-day urgent orders – Emergency works that are large scale and require the organisation of additional resources, traffic management plans and highway authority permissions. 20-day orders – Works that are not a risk to public safety but are approaching an actionable level. Six-month orders -Long term planned maintenance.