A RESURFACING blitz of Portsmouth’s back roads has been promised by the city council, after statistics suggested they might not be up to par.
Figures released by the Department for Transport show that roughly 38 miles of Portsmouth's council-run roads suffered ‘considerable deterioration’ in 2018/19, including six per cent of A roads and motorways and eight per cent of B and C roads.
Roads that showed deterioration were categorised as ‘poor’, and may need maintenance within the next 12 months.
For comparison, three per cent of Southampton’s B and C roads and four per cent of Hampshire's were considered to be in a similarly poor state.
According to Portsmouth City Council, Colas – which operates the council’s private finance initiative (PFI) for the city’s streets – has money and a plan in place to tackle the problem.
But road users say that the condition of the city's back roads puts them in the ‘firing line' for an accident.
Ken Johnson, 53 from Stubbington, was hit by a car while cycling in Northern Parade in 2016.
He believes the poor state of Portsmouth’s roads is a long-standing issue, and that they haven’t been significantly improved.
‘You try and cycle as close to the kerb as you can, but have to move out into the traffic to avoid the potholes and dodgy drains,' he said.
‘It puts cyclists right into the line of fire and some motorists might not understand why we have to do that, but the state of Portsmouth’s roads has been a problem for many years now.’
Ryan King, 28 from North End, frequently cycles through the city and says the B and C roads are ‘terrible’.
‘They’re very uneven – the majority of them are pretty bad,’ he added.
Driving instructor Garry Banks from Brake-Thru agrees the back roads are where the issues lie.
He said: ‘Some of the back roads are very bumpy, especially where they’ve been dug up and filled back in.
‘The main roads seem to be in a decent condition though.’
The council’s cabinet member for traffic and transport, Cllr Lynne Stagg, says the damage to the roads has been caused by a mix of having too many cars in the city and the weather conditions in recent years.
She acknowledged that there is a problem with back roads in Portsmouth and says Colas will be hammering down on the problem – but added that user satisfaction with Portsmouth roads ranked very highly in the UK last year.
She said: ‘The current state of the roads is caused by a combination of having too many cars and HGVs on the roads, but also where we’ve had bad winters the past couple of years.
‘Some of our roads are concrete with a tarmac surface; in the harsh winters the concrete has frozen and then broken up, causing the road to fall apart.
‘There is about £1m of Colas’ contract for tertiary roads that wasn’t spent by the previous administration. I don’t know why it wasn’t spent but we’re already using it.
‘Copnor Road has been resurfaced and there is work on Tangier Road in the pipeline – but I agree that the back roads in the city need more attention.
‘There is a plan for which roads get done and when, but that depends on the weather conditions.’
Colas’ PFI with Portsmouth City Council, signed for £500m over 25 years in 2005, makes the firm responsible for potholes, drains and gullies in the city – with monthly and six-monthly inspections along city streets.
‘The roads are very worn out’
While the condition of Portsmouth’s roads has been called into question by the Department for Transport, the city's residents claim that the council has ignored the issues away from the main roads for quite some time.
Alison Stocker, 60 from Southsea, said: ‘Along the seafront in Southsea it’s absolutely fine, there are no problems whatsoever.
‘But when you go down some of the back roads I think you start to realise just how bad the problem is. It's a shame that these other p[laces are nowhere near as well looked after.
‘The roads are very worn out, it’s not just potholes but some parts of the road actually breaking up too.
‘I think part of that is having too many cars on the road – we need to get more people cycling.’
Steven Wong, 32 from Southsea, added: ‘It’s not necessarily something I’ve thought about because I don't drive, but when there is a problem in the road you always notice it, and in some cases that problem sticks around.
‘I guess the council is focusing on the main roads instead, but that shouldn’t come as a cost to everywhere else.’
Paul McCarthy from Paulsgrove added: ‘I agree that a lot of the roads in Portsmouth are in a poor condition.
‘It’s not just the potholes in our estate but the speed bumps down Elkstone Road – there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.’
Another road user from Stamshaw, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘The council focuses too much on certain roads.
‘My road in particular has been dug up at least five times – I just think it’s a waste of money.
‘The potholes are terrible too, it sometimes feels like we pay our council tax for nothing.’