Pavements and payouts

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Spot the difference - one pavement is due for repair, the one opposite is left to decay further

In February, Rye News reported that frustration in Winchelsea over crumbling roads, damaged pavements and destroyed verges had prompted local conservation group Winchelsea Heritage to conduct a survey of the Ancient Town. Volunteers catalogued and photographed the worst problems, then reported them to East Sussex County Council on its FixMyStreet website.

At the time of the previous report, Winchelsea Heritage had logged 36 defects. The total has since increased to 70. And a spokesman for the group claims that these are just the very worst examples. “It would be easy to double this number, particularly if we included all damage to pavements and verges. As it is, our list of 70 is largely confined to roads.”

To date, East Sussex have agreed to repair just six of the defects reported by Winchelsea Heritage, but have rejected another 15 and have not responded about the remaining 49. One of the six repairs agreed by East Sussex is a pavement on the corner of Hiham Green and the High Street, opposite the New Inn. What is perplexing residents is that the pavement on the corner on the other side of the road, which is outside the Court Hall, has been deemed by East Sussex to be in a satisfactory condition.

Winchelsea Heritage argue that this pavement is at an exactly comparable location and is in worse condition. Has East Sussex has picked the easier of the two repairs, asks the Winchelsea group, so as to be seen to be doing something, but without having to spend too much? “Wouldn’t it be more economic,” says Winchelsea Heritage, “to do the two adjacent corners at the same time, rather than come back in a few months to do the second corner?”

The deteriorating state of the roads maintained (or not) by East Sussex is an increasingly hot topic across the county. Notwithstanding an outpouring of good news from the Council about road repairs, including a Twitter campaign telling us how many potholes they have filled, few believe the situation is any better.

Evidence of the growing nature of the problem seemed to have been unearthed earlier this month, when Freedom of Information requests by the BBC revealed that East Sussex paid compensation £169,494 in 2013-14 for damage to vehicles caused by potholes. This compares with neighbouring authorities Kent and West Sussex, who paid out £48,256 and £53,206, respectively. East Sussex’s figures are increased by the inclusion of legal costs (which the other county councils do not include) but removing these still leaves East Sussex as the big spender in the region. Moreover, pay-outs by East Sussex increased by three and a half times over the previous year (from £48,264), compared with rises of just 6.3% by Kent and 9.6% by West Sussex.

Photos: Richard Comotto