The county council’s new highways chief was given a rough time on Wednesday when he was invited to look at Barrowby’s pothole-strewn roads.
Coun Richard Davies was asked to visit by fellow Conservative county councillor Jo Churchill but any thoughts of an easy ride from a fellow party member were quickly dispelled. Standing in Church Street, Coun Churchill had a novel idea for how to emphasise the depth of the problem.
“Five-foot-eight, five-foot-five. Five-foot-eight, five-foot-five,” the councillor said, stepping into and out of a crater.
Next was a series of enormous potholes outside Greenacre retirement home in Rectory Lane. Coun Churchill swiftly produced a ruler.
Coun Davies was quick to acknowledge the problem.
“It’s a mess, isn’t it?” said the councillor before describing the area as “horrendous” and an emergency case in need of immediate work.
Just then the group, which also included Barrowby Parish Council’s Brian Inglis and Ralph Poore, was disturbed.
It was the home’s deputy manager, Gwen Caddy, marching across the garden.
She said: “I’m glad you’re here. We have reported that pothole every week for months.”
Mrs Caddy said the potholes, which run across the entrance to Greenacre, have caused no end of problems.
She said: “We’ve been reporting it every week since April and we’ve got nowhere.
“Visitors complain, my husband complains every time he comes to fetch me from work.
“It’s a job getting in and out with your car but we have people with walking frames. Even if you are just driving by you have to be very careful.”
When informed that Coun Davies was the county councillor responsible for highways, Mrs Caddy’s disposition improved.
She said: “Now we’ve got the boss man involved, hopefully something will get done!”
Coun Poore told Coun Davies he had also reported the same pothole numerous times but heard nothing back.
So was Coun Davies concerned such a “horrendous” patch had been reported but not fixed?
He said: “At the moment one of my big concerns with highways is a lack of communication and responsiveness.
“Currently people are reporting and then not hearing anything back.
“That may have been acceptable 20 or 30 years ago, but it’s not now.”
Coun Davies says he wants an online system introduced where people will be able to track the status of repair-work they have reported.
He added: “But we don’t want Highways officers becoming administrative clerks. Every hour they spend writing letters they are not out there doing the job we want them to do.
“So, we want the public to be more involved and responsive but at the same time we need to give them the right information.”