It all starts with a drive up Gloucester road in Kidsgrove! Can you count how many speed bumps are falling to bits and need urgent repair? Did you get to the bottom of Gloucester road and drive your car through the excess of water gushing through the bridge walls causing the road to disintegrate beneath your automobile? If you can answer yes to any of these questions above you have survived a road that quite frankly should be dubbed the most dangerous in Staffordshire.
Some years ago Staffordshire County Council introduced speed reduction measures along Gloucester Road with very good intentions. The Highways department claimed they would spend thousands of taxpayer’s cash to make this road safer for road users and pedestrians. Many residents welcomed the proposals to put a stop to ‘boy racers’ who we all know exist but I must point out they aren’t always boys.
Once the speed bumps were installed traffic slowed down, it was safer to cross the road and less vehicle owners used Gloucester Road and Newchapel Road as a cut through. It must have been heaven for some who had lived their lives in fear of a road that had previously become a mini motorway. But how long did this heaven last?
Let’s just say the steady decline in our Heaven began on that one day, Election Day. A new Conservative administration was formed following a land slide at the County Council Elections and they promised us so much for Staffordshire. One Conservative leaflet claimed Staffordshire’s road infrastructure would be a top priority ensuring potholes and speed control would be at the top of the agenda. Their priorities quickly changed to privatising our top quality public services and offering us, the taxpayer much less for our money. So there have been cuts to Council budgets by central government but did the right wing candidates not know that when they promised us the earth in their glossy coloured leaflets? I think you can answer that question yourself!
So now we are in a situation in Kidsgrove, Ravenscliffe, Newchapel, Butt Lane and Talke where our road infrastructure is falling into a state of disrepair. Speed bumps are falling to bits, wrecking our car tyres and destroying suspensions. A lack of road maintenance is leading to irreparable damage to our highways and roads. Potholes bigger than the black hole of Calcutta are not being addressed for months causing further damage to vehicles and even hindering pedestrians crossing the road. It would be fair to say even our ancestors the Romans could lay better roads than our County Council. The only way the County Council address the problem is by distributing never ending press releases that more money will be released for road repairs and better maintenance. Why after all these promises have we seen nothing but patch ups that are useless and have no effect? Why are we constantly fighting our County Council to keep our roads up to a fair standard in Kidsgrove? I’ve asked these questions so many times but
my attempts for an answer are futile.
Insurance companies claim that up to six per cent of damage to suspension alone can be traced back to drivers attempting to negotiate ‘traffic calming’ measures such as sleeping policemen, and the average repair bill is £240. That equates to a potential bill of £413 million a year – or £1.1 million a day across Britain’s 28.2 million cars.
Road humps have often been criticised by motoring organisations for causing damage to vehicle suspension and tyres. Drivers of emergency vehicles have also claimed that the devices slow them down when they are responding to emergency calls.
Sheila who lives along Gloucester Road said: “yes, speed humps are a waste of time if for no other reason than most roads are in such a bad state of repair that having extra bangs and crashes from your suspension makes no difference anymore. I don’t slow down for them, with quite a lot of them the quicker you go over them the better, as your suspension just sees it as yet another imperfection in the road surface”.
So to summarise what should the County Council do? To be honest with you I am not against all speed bumps. What I am against is putting these speed bumps all over the place without any thought and then leaving them to rot. Will the County Council pay for the repairs to damaged cars because they failed to keep to their end of the bargain and maintain our roads? I think not!
The County council should introduce more 20MPH Speed Zones that have been a huge success in some areas of Staffordshire and have a much better impact than speed bumps especially outside of schools. Flashing 30MPH speed signs are also slowing people down across Staffordshire and the rest of the UK and are proven to have been part of successful council programmes. We don’t have to throw money at the problem. County Councillors just have to use a bit of common sense and spend our money better.
My final thought on this is that if the County Council can’t maintain speed bumps then Councillors should do the right things and vote to have the speed bumps taken out before these devices kill someone.