A highway authority has set out how it will improve its approach to repairing potholes after a coroner warned that its planned move to a ‘risk-based’ approach could put lives at risk.
As reported by Highways last month, coroner Peter Sigee raised his concerns with Bury Council in a Regulation 28 Report to Prevent Future Deaths following the death of cyclist Roger Hamer in 2016. The inquest jury found that Mr Hamer’s death had probably been caused by a fall after hitting a pothole.
The incident happened under a highway management procedure based on the old national code of practice. A spokesman for Bury Council said the inquest concluded that Bury Council had exceeded the requirements of this code however Mr Sigee identified procedural failings including an inspector’s failure to record the condition of the carriageway.
The coroner also noted that the council was in the process of adopting a new policy, based on the new code, Well-Managed Highway Infrastructure.
He observed that under the new approach previous intervention level, 40mm, would be redefined as the ‘investigation level’, so that defects of 40mm or above may not be repaired and smaller defects may not be investigated. He said he considered that the new policy ‘will increase the risk of future deaths, in particular to cyclists’.
The council spokesman said it is producing a new highway inspection and repair policy, which will comply with a new Greater Manchester framework document that is itself based on the new code of practice. He said: ‘It is hoped that this will be implemented in April 2018.’
He added: ‘We are looking to develop our IT systems to enable a web map reporting service, which will allow customers to report and track enquiries online. The council is investing in the purchase of a spray injection patching machine, which will enable a greater number of potholes to be repaired, faster. We are also reviewing our procedures following notification of serious incidents/fatalities on the highway.’