A leaflet from the “Vote Leave” campaign is being posted through the letter boxes of Penarth this week is claiming that there are “1.7 million potholes in Wales” but that – instead of them being fixed – British taxpayers’ money is “being spent on bridges in Greece”.
The leaflet may – perhaps unintentionally – have struck a raw nerve with many local residents.
Motorists and cyclists who use the Penarth’s much-patched, make-and-mend, roads might well have concluded that a high proportion of those 1,700,000 Welsh potholes are probably in Penarth.
Every year the Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council is having to pay-out thousands of pounds of council-tax-payers’ money to meet claims for damage sustained by potholes.
In the latest year for which figures are available (2014) the Vale Council paid compensation of over £152,ooo for damage caused by potholes and – on top of that – shelled-out £34,605 to meet compensation claims. The Vale Council has not yet released figures on how much it’s had to pay out in claims in 2015.
Even during last Saturday’s prestige road race – the IAAF Cardiff World Half-Marathon – competitors, including Mo Farah, had to be warned by loudspeaker to watch out for an uneven road surface as they entered Penarth Marina. A stumble by a top athlete at this event could have cost the Vale a small fortune in compensation.
The Vale Council operates what it calls a “Big Fill” campaign which is meant to receive reports of potholes and their locations from the public on its website – and then add them to its list of pending repairs.
The council says “Our inspectors regularly review roads by following a predetermined schedule (including road classification and route importance). Each observed defect is recorded with an assigned repair timescale. Consideration is given to the potential hazard in accordance with our safety inspection policy”
However residents take the council’s claims with a large pinch of salt. It doesn’t take long to discover a large pothole in – for example – Church Road, Penarth, which the Vale claims it repaired in January/February, is still there – unfilled . Remnants the yellow spray-paint used to identify it can still be seen, although they’re now fading – with age.
The Vote Leave campaign claims that “Wales sends £647 million to the European Union every year” – money which it argues could be better spent fixing potholes or – presumably – saving steelworks. The campaign is seeking to persuade Penarth residents to vote to leave the EU, display a Vote Leave poster during the referendum campaign, deliver leaflets in the area , help with door-to-door surveys, make phone calls to other voters and – if they wish – make a financial donation to the campaign .