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Torridge residents "not leaving home" due to state of roads

Pothole. Image: Radio Exe

Lack of maintenance frustrates councillors

The state of the roads and footpaths in Torridge are causing residents so much worry to that many are not leaving their homes to travel, it has been claimed.

Torridge councillor Lyndon Piper (Lib Dem, Holsworthy) said the level of maintenance especially on A roads and footpaths is very poor and it goes way beyond potholes.

In a motion at Torridge District Council this week he asked for concerns to be raised with Devon County Council (DCC) highways officers and ask them to attend a future meeting.

He said he wanted to work with them to “find solutions” as there are problems with surface water drainage, road markings, cats eyes and general pathway maintenance, as well as potholes.

“Blocked gullies create huge floods across A roads, followed by freezing conditions,” he said. “ In my ward, we have accidents caused by flooding followed a week later by accidents caused by ice.

“People are becoming isolated because they are not confident to be able to travel on our A roads.”

He said despite being encouraged by Devon County Council to walk rather than use cars, people had to be able bodied with study footwear to use any of the footpaths in Torridge towns.

“Our footpaths are becoming impassable by people with pushchairs, or in wheelchairs or using mobility scooters, or those who are even slightly infirm or have their work shoes on.

“Seventy-two per cent of our council tax goes to DCC, and I’m concerned that we are not getting what we need and pay for when it comes to highways and footpaths. We need to shout about it."

“We have all seen the state of the roads and we are absolutely sick to the back teeth of it,” said council chairman Doug Bushby (Ind, Bideford North).

Local resident John Richards told councillors he welcomed DCC’s £1.5 million of extra funding for pothole maintenance and road drainage, but he said employing local people to do the job would be more effective in rural areas.

“Blocked drains, ditches and culverts cause the excess water and DCC use a vast machine accompanied by an extra vehicle and several personnel to escort it and arrange traffic control," he said.

“I cannot believe that this can be as cost effective as someone with local knowledge looking after a number of parishes and able to sort the blocked drains, ditches etc on the minor roads.”

He said it took him 15 minutes to unblock a ditch and culvert at Petrockstowe which was causing flooding across the road and within 20 minutes the flood had gone.

“That’s how simple it can be,” he said.

He added that much of the debris causing blockages was bank and hedge trimming by the council in the autumn and winter, and autumn leaves falling.

Cllr Peter Hames (Green, Appledore) said he fully supported holding DCC to account over this but there is money available for parish and town councils to maintain footpaths and deal with potholes, as Northam Town Council had received some.

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