Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 18 April 2013


In many ways the state of our roads is a metaphor for the state of our public finances. They have both been hit by exceptional weather (both real and financial) and will take a long time to bring them back to an acceptable level of condition.

I cannot ever remember our roads being this bad, at any stage of my life. I guess it is the perfect storm: very cold weather in 2011/12 followed by very wet weather throughout 2012. Tarmac gets frozen, contracts and cracks then come the warmer wet weather expands and breaks down leaving the heavy rain able to wash it away. This has left potholes everywhere and now Jan and I actually plan our routes to avoid the worst of them.

Hillcrest Drive in Plympton is the worst major thoroughfare I have yet come across and despite recent attempts to deal with the worst holes; it actually feels dangerous to drive. It reminds me of some of the foreign trips I have been on to developing countries where road conditions were always a factor in planning journey times. I am sure you will have your own favourites of places to avoid.

Strangely, Devon roads seem a lot better than Plymouth ones, which must say something about the wise way that Devon Council has run its affairs in recent years.

The estimates of what it will cost to put our roads back into proper shape are frightening and there is just not there kind of money around right now. So what is to be done?

I have urged ministers to use any scraps of unspent budgets at this year-end to make it available to local authorities to carry out urgent repair works. We have had some recent announcements which will go some way to helping, but it will still be a long slog. The search for more government crumbs must continue.

Second, I am urging highway authorities to stop wasting money on pretty pink tarmac strips etc and concentrate on spending every available penny on the core job: roads you can drive along.  Right now tackling the proliferation of major potholes which we all swerve to avoid is a more urgent priority than coloured tarmac at junctions.

In the end politics is about making choices and priorities. Government, whether national or local, is ultimately responsible for making sure our infrastructure is in place. If that means cutting out some of the frills, so be it.

posted by Gary @ 16:29