Parting pot-shot: Outgoing county councillor slams state of Bucks roads

A pot hole on Buckingham Road in Aylesbury (near to the old Aylesbury United entrance)
A pot hole on Buckingham Road in Aylesbury (near to the old Aylesbury United entrance)

John Cartwright says one reason he is stepping down from his county post after 16 years is because he cannot look voters in the eye and defend the ‘torment’ of driving on Bucks roads.

John Cartwright says one reason he is stepping down from his county post after 16 years is because he cannot look voters in the eye and defend the state of the roads.

Mr Cartwright, who is also the Conservative leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council, said: “When you knock on people’s doors you need to be able to defend your record and the roads are one thing I cannot defend.

“The roads have got worse and worse. There is no doubt the county underspent in the past on highways and now the bird’s coming home to roost.

“They don’t have a plan for the future because the monster has become too big.

“You’ve only got to get in your car and it rattles and shakes before you get to the end of the road. It’s torment.

“It’s not just the big holes in the A41, it’s all the little country roads.

“The roads are in a terrible state and I’m absolutely certain that my colleagues and others who will knock on doors are going to be told that.”

The ‘We’re Working On It’ programme has seen 178 roads across Bucks repaired during 2012/13 as part of a £30 million investment by the county council over the past two years. Despite this, many remain in a poor state and a further £25 million has been pledged towards repairs in 2013/14, with the council highlighting improving roads as one of its top priorities.

But Mr Cartwright, who will cease representing Grendon Underwood after the May 2 elections, cast doubt on how much of a difference the £25 million investment will make.

He said: “£250 million would only dent the surface in my view.

“Financially it’s probably the best that they can do.

“On paper £25 million sounds like a lot of money, but how many miles of road can you resurface for that kind of money?

“Probably not a lot when you’ve got to go round the whole of Buckinghamshire.

“The real question is at the end of the year will the overall state of the roads be better?”

Mr Cartwright said the problem will not be solved without Government help, something which is unlikely to be forthcoming given the financial climate.

He added that there has often been pressure to take money away from the highways budget, which is set by the county council.

Mr Cartwright said: “The temptation has been there in the past to take money away from highways because there was a better claim for it from elsewhere.

“It’s undeniable they’ve taken a lot of money and you can’t just leave roads un-repaired for a year or two in order to save money. Now the holes are there and it’s too late.”

Councillor Peter Hardy, the council’s transport chief, was unable to comment because of the upcoming county elections.