“Marginal” improvement in Surrey roads via @GetSurrey

This is an article in today’s Surrey Advertiser, written by Jennifer Maxfield, “Marginal” improvements for Surrey’s road

THE transformation project for Surrey’s roads has resulted in only ‘marginal’ improvements, according to county council officials.

Environment and transport councillors, meeting last Thursday, criticised their own officers as they were updated on a review of the state of the roads following Surrey’s low ranking on the issue last year.

They discussed the progress of Surrey Highways Transformation Project, which is seeking to re-organise how Surrey County Council manages the highway network leading to a tangible improvement in carriageway condition and quality. It comes after a full survey last year confirmed that 17% of the county’s highway network was in a poor condition. This placed Surrey in the bottom quarter of all councils in England and Wales responsible for the condition of road surfaces. Councillors said a “road repair hit list” including in the project offered false hope to residents.

Last month, the authority started holding roadshows where people could suggest places to help create a list of streets most in need of repair.

Committee chairman Steve Renshaw said councillors should have been consulted before officials asked residents for their opinions on which roads need to be improved.

Pat Frost, Farnham central county councillor, warned: “We have got to be careful about managing the public’s expectations.”

Since its inception, the project has reduced road costs by £8 million a year, by re-tendering highway contracts and organisational restructuring.

However, the update report said: “Although the initiatives have been very successful in reducing costs and improving scheme quality, it is recognised that the steps to date have only had marginal impact in improving overall carriageway condition and resident satisfaction.”

Jason Russell, assistant director of highways heading the update, said there had been steady progress.

But Cranleigh and Ewhurst councillor Alan Young said: “It’s a pity that we do not have any clear targets for improving residents’ satisfaction when levels are so low. It’s fine to state they are fine, but we have no proof. We are a service provider to our residents and there’s an element of having to meet expectations.”

Earlier this year, an in-depth strategic review was launched to determine measures which would have a direct impact on the quality of the network carriageway condition.

The recommendations of the review will be formally submitted to cabinet in February.