Pulling my finger out about the potholes around Cowick

I’ve been contacted by a a resident about a number of issues, including the number of potholes around the ward.

The roads around here, notably Somerset Avenue, Sussex Close & Dorset Avenue are an absolute disgrace. 

They a patchwork quilt of potholes, some of which have been bodged up but a lot of them have been left untouched.

This is what we have been doing about the potholes

As ever, this is a Devon County Council issues, in their remit as Highways Authority.

Throughout the county, Devon are budgeting for £35m a year for road resurfacing – unfortunately it costs £65m to keep them in the current – appalling – state.

Nothing I can say or do can change that decision.

But I am working with my colleagues to draw attention to state of the roads in Cowick.

I’m not sure if you saw any of the articles in the Express & Echo but we recently ran a petition about the condition of Dorset Avenue – I counted over 200 potholes along the entire length.

That petition was presented to Full Council in December, and we are now waiting for a response from DCC. I will admit I am not hopeful of a good outcome. But I have other measures up my sleeve to take this further.

It’s not as favouritism that we were focussing on Dorset Avenue, but because of the vast number of potholes. Be assured that  we are aware that all roads throughout the ward are, similiarly, in a terrible state of repair.

So although many roads are in desperate need of a resurface, as it stands at present DCC will only tackle what are described as ‘safety defects’ – 40mm deep (that’s the size of a golf ball) and at least 30cm long in one direction, leading to the patchwork you describe.

I will continue to walk around Cowick with my trusty golf ball and  point out to DCC when I believe a pothole is big enough to be a ‘safety defect’.

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.”

Screen shot 2014-11-23 at 14.13.34

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 

Open Letter to Cllr Stuart Hughes (DCC Cabinet Member for Highway Management and Flood Prevention)

Serious Concerns over PNSL in Cowick

Dear Stuart

I am getting extremely concerned over the delivery of PNSL in Cowick.

How can we have confidence in a system that seems to be failing in its basic operational requirements?

This week these failures seem to happening on an almost daily basis.

Street light reflected in car windscreen on Bowhay Lane
Street light reflected in car windscreen on Bowhay Lane

Putting aside the fact that in certain areas of Cowick, PNSL has been ending at 6am rather than the scheduled 5:30am, I learned earlier today (Friday 14/11/14) that Bowhay Lane was in pitch darkness again this morning as a shift worker left for work – this despite an assurance from DCC Street Light Team that for the duration of the utilities works there, PNSL would be suspended and Bowhay Lane would revert to ALL night street lighting.

This is doubly frustrating because at 13:30 yesterday afternoon (Thursday 13/11/14), although it was gloomy in Cowick Lane it by no means pitch black, yet the lights in Bowhay Lane (and Charnley Avenue, Isleworth Road, Nadder Park Road, Barley Farm Road – and many others that I may not be aware of) where on.

I’m guessing that this was a re-occurance of the problem we discovered a couple of months ago – that the central control management system lost communication with the area controllers. So DCC still haven’t resolved that problem

ALL day street lighting in Kerswill Road
ALL day street lighting in Kerswill Road

Kerswill Road was also lit by street lights at this time – this is the self-same road that Cllr Heather Morris was accused of being “unfair” when she was pressing for an answer as to why they hadn’t been reverted to ALL night street street lighting after 4 days.

Is this an “unfair” request? I don’t think so.

During the numerous briefings, conversations, “consultations”, and e-mails, I and many others wanted reassurances that PNSL would be safe.

If you remember, DCC’s response was along the lines of “of course it is, we’ve introduced PNSL across many areas of the county without any problems”

But what they hadn’t done was use a new £1.7m control management system – controlled by a computer running new software.

We were constantly being told that in the case of emergencies and other safety concerns , street lights could be turned on “at the flick of a switch”.

Comments from DCC Street Lighting Team suggest that, although this programme has been written, no-one has thought it necessary (7 months after PNSL was introduced into Cowick) to see if this software actually works.

This scares and frightens me.

I was – and still am an advocate of PNSL – but only with the same proviso I had at the June 2013 “if I can be assured that the safety of Cowick’s residents would not be compromised”

Since the lights of Bowhay Lane and Kerswill Road apparently couldn’t be converted to ALL night street lighting “at the flick of a switch”, I feel that the safety of Cowick’s residents is now being compromised.

I’m not sure what you told Full Council in response to Cllr Richard Westlake’s question on 02/10/14 (The minutes only record “Councillor Hughes commented, as requested by Councillor Westlake, on the reduction of street lighting hours in Exeter”) but I feel that more questions need to be answered urgently.

We were promised a meeting with DCC street lighting team for a 6 month review of PNSL in Cowick (and elsewhere West of the Exe). With PNSL starting on 01/04/14, this meeting was due in early October.

As we are now approaching mid-November, the cynic in me is thinking that the DCC street lighting team are aware of our serious concerns and do not have the answers to satisfy us.

We need that meeting ASAP to discuss our valid apprehensions – it is essential for the residents of Cowick, and vital as PNSL is rolled-out across the rest of the city.

I await your response with interest


#Cowick #LabourDoorstep in the rain

As someone who talks to voters on the doorstep all year round and in all weathers (the #Cowick team were out yesterday in the drizzly rain), I’m intrigued to hear about all these press and media reports that voters are dismissive of the Labour leadership.

That’s NOT what people are talking about on the doorstep…it’s normally about local issues

Yesterday I heard about the route of the P bus (some wanting it to go via the St Thomas Health Centre, others wanting it to keep to the current route), rubbish being piled up against wooden fences, who’s digging up the pavement next door to her house.

Only one resident mentioned national issues – in that he felt that labour weren’t as radical as he wanted

He called for

  • re-nationalisation of the railways (and his thinking about the bus services
  • scrapping Trident
  • bringing FREE dental treatment into the heart of the NHS

No calls from him for Ed Miliband to go, though