On 18th May East Sussex County Council issued a press release declaring that East Sussex Highways (ESH), the agency responsible for upkeep of the county’s roads “have been pulling out all the stops to keep the county’s roads in tip-top condition during the coronavirus lockdown”.

And they gave a flurry of statistics: “Taking advantage of lower than normal traffic levels, ESH workers have worked flat out to fill more than 6,000 potholes since lockdown was declared on March 23rd…. Meanwhile, crews have repaired 185 pavements, repaired or replaced 113 signs and 73 items of street furniture, cleared 581 drains and repaired 1,073 street lighting faults.”

PICTURE: Dave Young

However, as any driver, motorcyclist, cyclist or pedestrian negotiating our streets can readily attest, neither Hastings nor St Leonards are benefiting noticeably from this supposed surge in activity. The number and severity of potholes increased exponentially during the wet winter. Most remain at large, with Warrior Square, Pevensey Road, Battle Road and parts of The Ridge particular blackspots.

ESH, which is a joint venture enterprise between private companies Costain and Jacobs Engineering supposedly managed by the county council’s Contracts Management Group, does not itself make any extravagant claims for progress. On the contrary, its website emphasises constraints on work from hygiene and social distancing requirements of the coronavirus pandemic. “At this point”, it states, “existing roadworks will generally remain in place. We will continue to adhere to UK Government advice and if this changes, we will review our approach. This may mean that we move to repair of immediate dangers only.”

But Cllr Claire Dowling, the council’s lead member for transport and environment, claims: “The fact there’s been less traffic on the roads than normal has given us the opportunity to complete some work we may not otherwise have been able to, while our normal roads maintenance service has been able to carry on running as normal.

“By putting in place sensible precautions, we’ve been able to ensure our crews can stay safe while working hard to keep the roads of East Sussex safe and in the best possible condition.”

Details of forthcoming roadworks can be seen on the East Sussex Highways website at www.eastsussexhighways.com This website also has a link
for reporting pot-holes.

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