Petition: Resurfacing Doset Avenue

I have now received a response to the petition asking for Dorset Avenue to be resurfaced as a matter of urgency.


It reads:

Dear Cllr Bull

Petition: Resurfacing Dorset Avenue

Thank you for your petition, which was presented to County Council on 11 Decemeber by Councillor Roy Hill.

As requested by the Leader of Devon County Council, I have read the petition and reviewed the request, supported by those who have signed the petition, for resurfacing of Dorset Avenue.

I apologise for not having replied earlier or letting you know before now that it would take a little longer than 15 working days to look into this  and respond.

The Neighbourhood Team have identified a scheme for resurfacing of the above roads and this will be progressed when funds become available and subject  to  prioritisation of the work in relation to other demand on the Highways Capital Budget.

We acknowledge that the road surface layer is in poor condition. Where safety defect potholes develop we will continue to carry out repairs. Safety defect potholes are those that are 40mm or greater in depth, 300m or more in size and have vertical edges. When safety defect potholes have been repaired a road remains serviceable for use, albeit with car.

Government has now allocated capital funding to Devon for highway maintenance in 2015/16. The allocation is not enough to enable us to carry out all of the work that is needed on Devon’s roads. However, Government has invited bids for a second allocation of funding and we will be trying to win as much extra money for Devon as possible to enable us to carry out highways maintenance on more of the lower priority roads like Dorset Avenue.

So there we have it, a response but not really an answer.

And buried within the wording, there is an interesting phrase:
Safety defect potholes are those that are 40mm or greater in depth, 300m or more in size and have vertical edges (my emphasis)

The phrase “have vertical edges” does not appear on DCC’s Maintaining Roads page of their website, which says this on fixing potholes:
We will only carry out a repair on a pothole which is over 40mm deep and greater than 300mm in any horizontal direction. (in this instance the emphasis belongs to DCC!)

A similar definition is found in DDC’s Highways Safety Inspection Manual Version 5.0 Issued April 2013:
A pothole (sharp edged depression or void) is a safety defect when it is over 40mm deep and it is greater than 300mm in any horizontal direction.

The cynic in me is wondering if DCC has added  “vertical edges”  to the definition of a safety defect to reduce the number of pothole repairs they need to do!

FOI REQUEST IR2396896 | Resurfacing of Barley Lane

Although presented by Cllr Roy Hill to the Full Council meeting of Devon County Council on 11/12/14, no-one connected to the petition calling for the resurfacing of Dorset Avenue has even received an acknowledgement from DCC – even though the minutes of the meeting state:
The Leader indicated that the relevant Cabinet Member or Head of Service would be asked to respond direct to each of the petition organisers on the issues raised, within 15 days.”

That said, I hold out little hope that anything will be done, as Cllr Hill passed on some comments from a senior Highways Officer at DCC.

The total Highway budget for the current year is made up of a revenue grant of £29.4m and a capital grant of £34.7m.

The funding is used to maintain or improve many different highway assets such as street lighting,  highway drainage safety barrier fencing etc  so only a  limited proportion of this funding is available surfacing repairs. The element available for surfacing treatments on non-principal roads is £16m, of which over half is used for surface dressing treatment across the 12,000km countywide network.

An asset management  approach led by survey condition is used  to select and prioritise surfacing schemes. The current strategy  is to target repairs at major and minor collector roads which connect to the main road network.  As a consequence  the funding  does not extend sufficiently to housing estate roads such as Dorset Ave – which are extremely  important to the people who live there, but  serve fewer people than the adjoining collector roads .

Of course we do undertake highway safety inspections and respond to reported safety defects across the network, including Dorset Avenue and such  safety repairs are undertaken on all roads when required.

Further detail is available at

With these comments in mind ,  I was curious why a short stretch of Barley Lane has been resurfaced head of the whole length of pot(hole)-marked Dorset Avenue.

I know that the funds to repair Barley Lane came from additional funding from central Government paid to DCC to deal with the exceptional damage to the highway network over the winter of 2013/14.

So how did DCC decide to use the £9.1m Pothole Recovery Fund?

Well, they established the priorities for road repairs from evidence gained over the winter on the frequency of potholes and taking account of local knowledge and local priorities. Work on the major road network and key links into communities was made a high priority. This matches the winter salting network, which is designed to keep communities and businesses on the move when winter weather affects the network.

However, the say the additional funding was insufficient to repair some of the minor road network, but they will continue to respond to defects and make roads safe.

None of that explains why Barley Lane and not Dorset Avenue, so I I submitted a Freedom of Information request.

I’ve now had a response – Devon County Council’s response is provided below in bold text:

Q What criteria was used to decide that resurfacing that short stretch of Barley Avenue was of a higher priority over Dorset Avenue?

Devon County Council has used pothole defect data from the last financial year to prioritise and target carriageway maintenance programmes.

Primary and secondary winter treatment networks where 5 or more pothole defects have occurred in any 100 metre length, over the winter period(November 2013 – March 2014) were considered for treatment, followed by local validation.

Barley Lane met this criteria being on a primary salting network with 6 recorded defects over the defined period. Dorset Avenue unfortunately did not trigger the 5 threshold for this period, recording only 2 in a 100 metre length during the defined period.

I was also interested if DCC had a list of proposed re-surfacing works

Q Please can you furnish me with the current list of streets that are in need of re-surfacing, in the order of priority in which they will be tackled?

Devon County Council does not hold a list of streets that are currently in need of re-surfacing.

However, the Council does prioritise the re-surfacing of roads in accordance with the Council’s Asset Strategy, available budget, type of treatment, type of asset, etc.

The Council are currently highlighting roads to target for maintenance during the next financial year, however these are still to be assessed. Any safety defects identified will then be prioritised in accordance with the Council’s inspection policy. Non safety related maintenance work will be programmed by the Council’s maintenance contractor. The prioritisation of these works will be based on a number of factors including, minimising disruption and where efficiencies can be determined to ensure best value for money.

If you wanted to know what works are planned these can be viewed at the following website and filter to see Devon County Council work.

UPDATE | Cowick’s pothole petition

Express and Echo

Community News | 21 November 2014


Pothole Pettion

As previously disclosed in Community News, there are more that 200 potholes in Dorset Avenue.

And as a petition is about to be presented to the County Council, local councillor Paul Bull has discovered through a Freedom of Information request that, so far this year, DCC has paid out more than £5,700 in compensation to Exeter car drivers for damage caused by the state of th’s road – that is nearly as much as was paid out in total for the whole of the previous 4 years.

Cllr Bull told Comunity News: “Despite earlier reassurances, it was decided that Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee [HATOC] was not the correct body to receive our Dorset Avenue resurfacing petition, and it was agreed it should either be presented to either Devon County Council’s Cabinet or Full Council instead.

“It is hoped that Cllr Roy Hill would do this at the December meeting of one of these bodies.”

Fellow councillor Heather Morris said: “Of course, it was frustrating – not for us, but for the 100 signatories of the petition.

“And those 200 potholes are just the tip of the iceberg. There are potholes all over the ward.”

Cllr Bull added: “On Saturday, I was speaking to a resident in Oak Road, who told me that his street hasn’t been resurfaced in the 30 years he’s lived there.

“He was telling me he’s just about to get his car repaired yet again after  damage caused by the road surface.”

Cllr Bull said: “The response to my FoI request shows that, in the year to date, almost as much has been paid out in compensation as in the previous 4 years.

“If the County Council doesn’t start to address the potholes, I can see claims for compensation going even higher.”

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LATEST | The intention now is to present the Dorset Avenue Resurface NOW1 petition to DCC Full Council at County Hall at 2.15 pm on 11/12/14