THE appalling state of our crumbling roads and pavements are spoiling the splendour of our historic city and district.

For too long, too many people have been forced to risk serious injury – or worse – while simply using the highways that we pay to maintain.

Today we fight back.

The Review has launched a campaign to Repair Our Awful Roads (ROAR).

We want to put an end to pedestrians suffering trips and falls; we no longer want to hear that another cyclist is in hospital after hitting a pothole and we do not want drivers facing huge bills for car repairs.

Since April 2003, Hertfordshire County Council has paid out £270,018 in compensation to those who have suffered at the hands of the district’s poor roads, while the authority has spent a further £25,997 dealing with the claims.

We want less taxpayers’ money spent on claims and more invested on maintaining our highways.

Across the county, claims have cost the council more than £2 million over the five-year period.

St Albans, which accounts for 14 per cent of this total, is the highest in the county.

The shocking statistics came as little surprise to the Review, which has publicised case studies of people who have suffered injury or damage.

In May we highlighted the plight of 76-year-old Sheila Harrison who got her foot stuck in a pothole in Lye Lane, Bricket Wood, and spent half-an-hour stuck in the middle of the road waiting helplessly and in fear of a car driving round the corner.

The article was swiftly followed by numerous calls to our office from outraged drivers also claiming compensation from the county council for injury and damage to vehicles arising from the dreadful state of our roads.

District council leader Robert Donald said: “Anything that keeps the pressure on the county council and on Hertfordshire Highways to deliver a better service is helpful.

“We’re working with the county council to improve the repair services for our roads and pavements, we know they’re not as they should be and anything that helps us to achieve that would be welcome.

“We know from resident surveys that the state of our roads and pavements and traffic congestion are the two greatest issues of concern.”

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Sandy Walkington added: “It’s time to highlight the raw deal St Albans gets from Hertfordshire County Council. No other issue so infuriates local residents when I meet them on the doorstep.

“They rightly complain that local roads and pavements are the worst they have been in living memory with no sign that the county council is getting a grip. Even when repairs are done, they are far too often botched and skimped.

“Neighbouring areas have roads and pavements in far better condition. It’s time for zero tolerance on road repair let-downs. Hats off to the Review for campaigning on this issue.”

But St Albans MP Anne Main said the blame did not lie with the Tory led-county council, but that a shortage of funding from central Government was at the crux of the problem.

She said: “I have been lobbying hard to get a fairer funding deal for Hertfordshire. We have some of the busiest roads in Hertfordshire and taxpayers deserve a better deal from the Government. There shouldn’t be a matter of playing politics at a local level.”

Hertfordshire County Council leader Councillor Robert Gordon added: “Some of our roads are not in the condition they ought to be in – that’s not because we don’t care.

“It’s because the financial settlement we get from Government means we can’t find the money.”

Hertfordshire County Council added £20 million to the highways budget between 2006 and 2008. A further £6 million has been set aside for next year.

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