Blog: A new year, a new initiative, same old story?

£450,000 for emergency pot holes! Cllr W Da Costa looks at what we learned from the first Infrastructure Overview and Scrutiny Panel. It’s a new year, a new initiatives but, is it the same old story?

With Cllrs Hill, Jones, C Da Costa and Davey, I called in the Conservative administrations proposal to spend £450,000 on a 24 hour pothole response plan.

Click hear to read my comments, prepared with Cllr Jones – to follow

I will get straight to the point and not dress this up too much…

Straight to the point

a 24 hour pothole response scheme can not represent value for money for residents

Government led groups, The Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) and UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRL) say that short term “reactive repairs” are “four times more costly” than strategic “preventative treatments”.

They go on to say that short-term repairs are “inefficient“ and allow for ”more defects to develop and is more costly in the longer term

So the Government is saying that a 24 hour pothole response scheme can not represent value for money for residents.

A summary from last night’s discussion

The Lead Member did nothing to assuage our fears but rather, the meeting underlined the deep concerns among the Independent and Lib Dem Councillors present but revealed new areas of concern.

Here’s what we now know:

  • A £450,000 short term programme can not provide value for money
  • £450,000 on a projection of 640 pot holes equate to £700 per pothole compared to £55 per pot hole across England
  • The £450,000 amendment will be added to the Volker Highways contract shortly – it is not a done deal
  • The £450,000 is based on assumptions from Volker themselves – we wait to see the assumptions to see who is really “in the money”
  • The £450,000 might not actually be spent on pot holes but on other things if there are not enough pot holes – what might it be spent on by Volker?
  • The need for work and the quality of work under the £450,000 extension will be managed and also inspected by, not RBWM staff, but Volker themselves.
  • Funds for the £450,000 will come from the current “budget envelope” – in other words, there is no new money so, “efficiency savings” and “transformations” will be needed in other areas and services. Put in layman’s terms, what services will be cut?


Wouldn’t it be better to put this into projects where the need is more desperate?

Now here’s a conundrum

If RBWM’s roads maintenance strategy and programme as voted on in 2017 are sound and fully funded, why do we now also need to spend £450,000 on a poor-value-for-money, 24 hour, pot hole repair service?

Wouldn’t it be better to put this into projects where the need is more desperate like housing, homelessness, adult services, social care for the elderly, social services, education funding…?


How did the panel vote?

Instead the Conservatives on the Infrastructure Overview & Scrutiny Panel, who outnumber the non-Conservatives, waived the opportunity to ask Council to publicly discuss the proposal but voted to approve this flawed plan.

So, is it a new year, a new initiative, same old story?


What would you have used the £450,000 for?

Accountably yours,



Cllr Wisdom Da Costa

Clewer & Dedworth West




  • The Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP)
  • UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRL)
  • Quote from RBWM’s “HIGHWAY ASSET MANAGEMENT STRATEGY FOR CARRIAGEWAYS AND FOOTWAYS January 2016” from HMEP and UKRL, “Many councils understand the potential benefits to them of good asset management, but often cite a lack of resource as the main reason for not adopting good practice, resulting in a short term, reactive approach being used. This is inefficient, allows more defects to develop and is more costly in the longer term. Research has shown that reactive repairs are four times more costly than preventative treatments.
  • According to the average cost of repairing a pothole in England is £55 though, this does not include the cost of commission and self inspection
  • Pot hole calculations and, data from RBWM’s paper, “24 hour pothole response” 


  • This post is part of the WWRA Councillors regular series of Blogs to inform and empower local residents; as promised in their election leaflet
  • It is also to comply with clause v of the Members Code of Conduct which states, “You must be as open as possible about your decisions and actions and the decisions and actions of your authority and should be prepared to give reasons for those decisions and actions.”
  • The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA).
  • Any errors are unintentional so, I would value you bringing them to my intention so I can correct them. You can Email me