The maintenance of Hertfordshire’s roads has been described as "disgraceful" just 18 months after the county council signed a new £40 million a year highways contract.

Liberal Democrat councillors put forward a motion at Monday’s full county council meeting arguing that taxpayers were getting a poor service from Ringway, which took on the work in April last year.

At the meeting, councillors from the Liberal Democrat and Labour benches listed a catalogue of errors reported to them by residents, including delays to repairs and jobs being listed as complete when either some or none of the work had been carried out.

The motion also drew attention to the fact the call centre was not fully functioning and called for more financial penalties for the contractor to ensure the service met residents’ expectations.

Stephen Giles-Medhurst, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: "Works are constantly being postponed, the fault reporting systems don't work properly, and taxpayers are not getting value for money.

"In the first few months there were appalling problems with the contractors. We gave them time to bed in and to get it right but more problems have come to light. It is not good enough.

"This contract needs to be delivered properly or financial penalties put in place so taxpayers start getting value for money from their council tax, and decent roadways and lighting".

The original motion was rewritten in conjunction with the Conservatives before the meeting.

Two paragraphs were added drawing attention to the recent improvements in urgent work and street-lighting maintenance, and the savings that were being made.

Labour councillors were disappointed the original Liberal Democrat motion had been amended and requested the two paragraphs be deleted, but this was voted down.

Labour’s Leon Reefe said: "This amended motion is not robust enough. The original motion was substantive and we would have supported it. This goes nowhere near to touching what needs to be done."

Mark Mills-Bishop said: "The executive member for highways is doing the right thing. Rome was not built in a day.

"I am disappointed in the labour amendment. Yes there are problems but there is no complacency."

Liberal Democrat Sara Bedford replied: "Rome wasn’t built in a day? I can’t get a pothole filled in a month.

"This is the worst public service I have come across and it pains me to say that. The vast majority of my case work is either lights, potholes, or flooding.

"It’s mostly people who have tried to handle it themselves but they have been told the work is complete when it isn’t.

"People see what’s going on in their own streets and they won’t think it’s good enough either."

Earlier in the meeting it was announced that Hertfordshire had been named "Transport County of the Year" at a national competition.

Liberal Democrat Chris White suggested the "ridiculous award" should be sent back, and Labour’s Sharon Taylor said a spelling mistake had been made in the winning county, and that it should have been given to Herefordshire.

Conservative Terry Doulis, the councillor in charge of highways, defended the contractor’s performance by suggesting the maintenance of Hertfordshire’s roads and footways was "a daunting task".

He said he was willing to hold people to account but also to defend them from undue criticism.

Councillor Doulis added: "It is very interesting listing to the comments, especially the negative comments. There are things we must do better, we did not get to a good start and there are problems.

"We get 10,000 issues a month. The fact members can stand up and say there are issues here and there shows that there are very few issues and that we are doing an awful lot of it well and to budget."

Nigel Bell said he had been waiting 14 months for a proposed one way system to be installed in St James Road in Watford.

He said: "It is embarrassing having to go back to residents to explain that this has still not been done."

Liberal democrat Chris White said: "Ringway treats us with contempt. This council is a disgrace."

Deputy leader of the council, conservative Chris Hayward, added: "I want to make it clear that I am not accepting that there is anything wrong with the vast majority of our service provision, indeed quite the contrary.

"Neither though will I defend the indefensible and I do accept that we do need to improve our communication with both members and with the public themselves.

"I often find that much of constituent’s anger is born simply out of not knowing what is going on or when it is going to be done. We can and must do better in this area and we will.

"There has been a fundamental improvement in Ringway’s performance in particular since they first took over their contract back in October last year.

"Our motion as amended seeks to accept and recognise those areas where further improvement is still needed."

The Liberal Democrat and Conservative motion was passed.