Published: 00:01, 02 September 2016
A News Extra survey has found hundreds of defects on the town’s main roads, prompting a
warning some may be forced to close unless urgent repairs are carried out.
Six roads were tested: A2/London Road, Castle Road/Eurolink Way, Grovehurst Road, Homewood Avenue, Rock Road, and Park Avenue, with a total of 366 defects identified.
These included potholes, bumpy sections of tarmac, repairs that were deteriorating, and issues with drain covers – all potential safety hazards, according to the RAC.
One of the worst was Homewood Avenue with 102 defects – despite only being half a mile long – closely followed by Castle Road/Eurolink Way with 81 faults in the space of 1.25 miles.
Another 76 were found on the A2/London Road, which measures 1.45 miles, and 35 on Grovehurst Road in less than a mile.
Other busy side streets had similar issues.
Some 31 defects were identified on Rock Road within 0.2 miles and another 41 on Park Avenue over a similar distance.
Residents have also raised concerns about Dover Street, which we counted seven defects within 0.7 miles, and Milton Road – from the roundabout outside the train station to Colwin Motorcycles – with nine defects in just 161 metres.
Many have also been reported on Wellwinch Road, Victoria Road, and Cromer Road, while a large pothole was discovered in Court Road, Milton Regis.
Homewood Avenue resident Mike Apps has lived in the street since the early 1980s and says it’s an ongoing problem.
“I have got used to it over the years,” the 65-year-old said. “I report potholes whenever I come across them and just hope something is done about it.
“Most of them are temporary repairs so they just open up when water gets in.
"Homewood gets a lot of use now, especially with the school there.”
As a biker, Mr Apps, a facilities manager for a national food distribution company, is particularly concerned about the potential danger of potholes.
“If I was not 100% alert and went over one it could take me off in front of a car. They are of great concern,” he added.
Cllr Mike Baldock (Ukip), who is on Swale’s Joint Transport Board, has called for a serious reassessment of the importance given to the road network.
He said: “Kent County Council is under-investing in our road structures and even if it
maintains its existing budget we are possibly 20 years away from having to close roads because they are unusable.
“Many councils match what the government gives them to spend on roads, but KCC doesn’t.”
He said KCC does a lot of short-term patching work rather than full repairs.
He added: “As more and more development goes up there are more roads that have got to be looked after.
“It is fine to have new hospitals and schools, but we have to be able to get to them safely.”
Cllr Baldock, who is a borough and county councillor, said his party earlier put forward an emergency proposal for KCC to release £15 million in reserve funds to go towards road repairs across Kent.
But Cllr Andrew Bowles (Con), also a borough and county councillor, said it would be “suicidal” for KCC to use reserve funds to pay for road repairs given how little money there was in the pot.
He said: “It is one thing when you are in opposition to criticise the lack of spending.
“The vast majority of council money goes on social services, whether the opposition suggest funding that by cutting those services or by a huge leap in council tax remains to be seen.”
Cllr Bowles said he constantly receives complaints about the state of Sittingbourne’s roads from people at parish council meetings and regularly chases up KCC to take action.
“It is not specific to Swale, it is a problem throughout the county,” he said.
“I would, however, say that Kent’s roads are noticeably worse than roads in other
“The tonnage travelling on them is far worse than any other county in England and we ought to be the highest funded county but we are not.”
Borough councillor Roger Truelove (Lab) said he was not surprised by the News Extra’s findings.
He said: “I receive constant complaints from residents including an increasing number of people suffering car damage.”
“There is a major budget problem. KCC has had to cut £236 million from its budget in the last three years due to government austerity funding.
“Road surfacing maintenance and pothole repairs have suffered in consequence, and the Highways department is understaffed.”