Analysis Breaking

Liverpool independent councillors forced to buy gravel to fill potholes after Lab council inaction

Liverpool Community Independent councillors shocked Labour by romping home in Garston local elections – now party appears to be playing political games to detriment of local residents

Councillors Lucy Williams and Sam Gorst next to one of the ‘axle-breaker’ potholes they’ve been forced to fill themselves (image: Skwawkbox)

In May, Sam Gorst and Lucy Williams were two of the three Liverpool Community Independent candidates who shocked complacent Labour in May’s local elections, romping home in the ward of Garston in the south of the city, while Cllr Alan Gibbons humiliated Labour by receiving more than four times as many votes as the party’s candidate in what used to be a cast-iron Labour area.

The Garston victory came despite – or more likely was helped by – Labour’s disgraceful ‘sewer politics’ campaign in the contest.

Now, Labour appears to have resorted to ‘pothole politics’ in Garston, at the expense of local residents, by allowing the ward’s roads to deteriorate to dangerous levels and ignoring the Garston councillor’s requests for action – forcing the pair to take action themselves to protect residents and their vehicles by buying bags of gravel to at least temporarily fill the dangerously deep holes that cover the area’s roads like a pepperpot.

Gorst and Williams braved heavy rain this week to begin their DIY repair campaign on the busy Woolton Road and took time out for pictures illustrating the literal depth of the problem:

Residents told Skwawkbox that the roads have deteriorated sharply from an already poor condition, resulting in general unevenness punctuated by deep and steep-sided ‘axel-breaker’ potholes that put both motorists and pedestrians at risk:

If you hit one of these things, it feels like you could wreck a wheel or break an axle at any moment. What’s worse is that these roads are busy and get narrow with parked cars. You don’t see the potholes until the last second and the number of times I’ve seen people have to swerve hard to avoid them. If that happens when there’s a bus or car coming the other way, God forbid a kid or someone running across the road or later when a damaged tyre blows on a motorway, someone’s going to get killed.

Dangerously deep potholes pepper the area’s roads (image: Skwawkbox)

Another added that the area’s roads are much worse than those of nearby wards with Labour councillors:

You don’t have to go very far to see that the areas with Labour councillors are getting not just faster but better repairs. It looks like they’re trying to make Garston voters angry with our councillors over the state of the roads, so I’m glad they’re doing what they’re doing. It doesn’t just improve safety, but it’s exposing the petty nonsense the Labour council is getting up to. They thought they had a right to rule here and instead of doing better, they’re trying to make others look worse.

Both councillors told Skwawkbox that they had raised the issue repeatedly with council officers but to no avail and had begun filling the potholes themselves as a last resort. Cllr Gorst told Skwawkbox:

These aren’t ideal repairs but they’re a lot safer than the massive holes they’re filling. The council’s not reacting so this was all we can do to keep people safe and hopefully get the council to do a proper job.

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  1. The Liverpool Independents could consider taking Liverpool Local Authority to Court for the disrepair. They have already starting taking pictures and now all they need to do is to take statements for as many as the residents as possible as to the negative impact the potholes are having on their daily lives, recording any accident whatever minor.
    As soon as the Labour Leader of Liverpool receives a solicitor’s letter with a view of taking legal action if the potholes aren’t repair in a timely fashion, I bet the problem will be solve.

    1. My thoughts entirely, and I would add that if Labour wards are getting prompt repairs whereas Garston’s aren’t, this is a far worse example of sewer politics than even the attack leaflet published against the LCI.

      1. The last time I looked the Tory appointed Commissioners were still in charge of Liverpool Council’s purse strings

      2. The last time i looked there was a least a semblance of local decision making at Council level in prioritising where money is spent.

  2. This exposes the depths to which Labour has sunk. The gaping holes in their commitment to working people and socialist ethics is proof of their abandonment of the reason they were created. They are no longer fit for purpose. Where Garston cllrs lead – we must follow.

    1. …and the 3 seats that the LCI lost in May?

      The LCI started with the 6 seats that they had won standing as Labour candidates. In May they fielded 9 candidates and lost 6 leaving them with only 3 sitting councillors.

  3. Oh dear, #LiverpoolLabour will have to find a ‘rogue’ councillor somewhere to smear LCI councillors Lucy W and Sam G for buying gravel to fill Garston’s potholes.

    If Liverpool City Council’s ‘pothole politics’ is causing Sam’s and Lucy’s Garston roads to be more pot-marked than other roads in the city, then the City Council is acting every bit as badly as the Tory-controlled Department for Transport, which gives widely-varying ‘discretionary’ amounts to different authorities.

    Liverpool City Region received £3.7m compared with the Transport Secretary Mark Harper’s local authority, Gloucestershire Council, receiving over 12 times more, £29m, both of which are dwarfed by the lofty £46m. given to the PM’s North Yorkshire council.

    It seems LCI could be correct: #LiverpoolLabour looks more tory every day.

      1. £46 million given to North Yorkshire for road repairs. You’re having a laugh.

    1. Qwertboi, that post was very interesting. I posted a lighthearted quip but after speaking with some other people, neighbours etc this information is serious. Please, could you post some links about this. No one has heard about these handouts to repair our roads. 46 million is a lot of envelopes and handshakes. I do get reports from Scarborough Council meetings, one would imagine that they would have been informed and asked for improvement grants. Our roads are perilous and we have been clamouring for pothole repairs for years. Thank you for the information.

      1. Hi Wobbly, I’ve tried to post the two links you need, but WordPress or Skwawkbox isn’t letting them through – search for
        1 – “Highways maintenance and ITB funding formula allocations, 2022-2025 (3 years) ”
        2 – “Additional Budget 2023 highways maintenance and pothole repair funding, 2023 to 2024”

        then collate the £data by authority/council/city, etc for totals – and you’ll see tory areas are getting significantly bigger budgets than labour areas.

    1. Cue, no doubt, yet another in a long line of spurious but transparent ‘requests’ from the usual suspect along the lines of can anyone (actually) provide a link to the 19th November 2021 Radio Four today programme to (verify) the claim in the opening paragraph of this correspondence – with the sole purpose of deflecting attention, casting doubt on the issue, or otherwise desperately attempting to reframe the matter.

      1. Dave – Don’t be silly, you already know that particular recording is no longer available on the BBC’s website. However there are news reports available that cover this interview in detail and report precisely what was said.

      2. And an equally “graceful” encore to boot.

        Don’t tell us: you’re here all week!

  4. Are local authorities supposed to repair potholes? Where is the money? So much revenue raised via road tax by central gov’t but not ‘ring fenced’ to prevent damage to car braking systems, wheels, tyres and suspension units……a dangerous game.

    1. There was a nationally funded programme about four or five years or so back which funded road resurfacing across the Country. All our roads and pavements were covered right down to the local level.

      At the time it certainly needed doing. However, this is where we hit practical problems. Because, like it or not, the devil is in the details and what counts in the practical and longer term is not what counts with the bean counters.

      The quality of the resurfacing – along with proper maintenance and joined up usage (more on that in a moment) impacts on how fast or slow the deterioration of the new surface takes place. Today, only a few years on most of the surfaces relaid in this neck of the woods are not far off back to the original appalling condition.

      And this is down to the operating model which some people on this site insist is the only ‘viable’ alternative.

      In the first instance the gradgrind accounting model in which the cheapest option is considered the optimum in ‘value for money’ results in, for instance, certain shortcuts in quality standards. Because, as we all know and experience every day the adherents of this nonsense not only delusionally think quality and quantity are the same thing they insist its the only possible way to assess anything.

      And you end up with a bodge job. Where sub-standard materials are used along with unrealistic time frames for the work to be carried out which results in simply scraping a few inches off the already poor surface and putting down an insufficiently thick surface which, as we are now seeing, has no long term efficacy.

      For sure, in terms of a one year financial time frame an excel spreadsheet will, surprise, surprise, show project to budget and present that as “value for money” (sic). However, even in the short term of a few years this “only viable alternative” does not work. It is a false economy.

      And not only in the terms identified above. Because proper maintenance and usage are also factors which don’t count in this TINA model as both require joined up thinking which does not feature in this ‘the only viable alternative’ paradigm. A paradigm which insists that every unit and sub unit of the operational and organisational process operates as a stand alone accounting (ie profit) center regardless of the overall operational relationships required to achieve results greater, rather than less, than the sum of the parts.

      As a consequence you end up with separated, disintegrated and insufficiently resourced operations which should be working together producing sub-optimum outcomes such as:

      The local authority sub-contracts out its road maintenance operations to the lowest private sector bidder. Because, as the TINA model insists, only the private sector is good and the public – ie democratically controlled – sector is bad. As a consequence, drains, ditches, culverts, verges, gutters etc are not maintained and cleaned on a regular basis. This being considered a “waste of money” ie a drag on expected ever increasing profit levels which are considered sacrosanct.

      As a result even a modest downpour of rain leads to excessive surface water eroding an already low quality newly laid road surface. Similarly, in now urban areas built over natural springs the resurfacing of such a spring results in a long drawn out accounting based saga on who is responsible for dealing with it: the piratised Water company?; the local landowner?; the house owner/leaseholder/renter?; the local authority? the Road Transport Agency?

      Meanwhile, as responsibility for dealing with this practical problem is tossed about between different private interests who have no communication relationship between each other and therefore no incentive to deal with the issue because they would rather someone else pay for it out of their budget, the (recently laid) road surface deteriorates to dangerous and even lethal levels. Particularly on a bus route.

      Talking of which: in the days when such matters were under properly functioning organisational and democratic public control the local publicly owned and controlled bus company would as a matter of standard practice properly check out the suitability of routes. A practice which would invariably involve proper joined up liaison with other public owned and controlled agencies responsible for roads etc.

      That way you would not get, as you do today, buses being given routes which are unsuitable due to local conditions. Such as a narrow street of houses with no drives and only on street parking on both sides of the road. Or hill junctions where the camber is such that the undercarriage of the bus scrapes the road damaging both bus and road surface.

      Because sitting in an office on a computer looking at a 2-D map rather than actually going out to survey the route might look as though its saving money but in practical reality its doing nothing of the sort. It is merely, at best, transferring the cost elsewhere and more often than not increasing that cost at the same time in a myriad of ways which don’t make it onto the simplistic spreadsheet with its unrealistic modelling assumptions and therefore into The Official Narrative (TON).

      And this – road surfaces – represents merely one example of an operating model which is not only not fit for purpose but also an imposed ‘only game in town’ across every aspect, part and level of the way we now operate as a society.

      To take just one current example from the non-civilian sector, we don’t do combined operations or organisational/joined up thinking in the TINA model offered as a “viable” alternative by the present Uni-party and its ignorant and arrogant sycophants – whatever colour rosette it has nominally pinned on its lapel.

  5. I wonder if they thought to take out public liability insurance before undertaking this work.

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