Lib Dem Councillor Tony Dawson has written to the Council, calling for them to take whatever steps they can to stop United Utilities neglecting their responsibilities and allowing contractors to do shoddy repairs which do not touch the underlying problems.
Councillor Dawson says:
“When a small but obviously significant localised sinking happens in the middle of a road, it is obvious that something is going on underneath which wasn’t going on much beforehand. The most obvious event is a broken drain or a burst water main, both of which erode away the sand much of our town is built on, the latter rather faster than the former.
“So, simply filling and/or patching the surface doesn’t help at all. In fact, it can make the matter worse because it sometimes provides a temporary stiffening of the surface ‘skin’ while the hole underneath gets bigger and bigger and then fails catastrophically.
“This ‘patch and re-patch issue has occurred recently in Hawkshead Street, Forest Road, Hulme Street, Westcliffe Road, Guildford Road, Union Street and Lulworth Road, to my knowledge – and now Liverpool Road and probably many other places within Southport. I managed to stop a sink hole developing in the middle of Lulworth Road a little while ago when I saw mains water spurting out of the road surface. Sefton Security were quickly onto the job. But the underlying problem may have been there for weeks.
“I am aware that these problems are not the responsibility of Sefton MBC but of United Utilities in terms of finding the fault and fixing it. UU tends to use contractors, but if they do so then UU must still retain responsibility for the contractors’ actions and inactions.. The bottom line is that these contractors do not always appear to be too bothered to find and fix the source of the trouble but are happy to fill and patch.
I should have asked Sefton Council senior officers to ‘put a rocket’ under United Utilities about this issue. I’ve asked them to tell UU that patching and leaving an underlying problem other than just for a day or so on occasion while proper investigations are progressing, is simply not an acceptable course of action. These roads belong to the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton and UU are allowed to run their mains and drains underneath them on the understanding that they will do so responsibly which means taking appropriate steps to investigate and fix problems when the road suddenly dips. Cars, buses and trucks falling into such holes are relatively rare but could cause serious consequences, as would a motorcyclist’s front wheel going into one of these holes.”