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Devon County Council is exploring the idea of using volunteers to repair potholes, clean signs and trim lawns and verges in a bid to reduce costs.
Devon has 8,000 miles of roads with an estimated 11,500 dents and divots. Crediton was recently found to boast the UK's largest pothole, measuring 6 feet wide. Potholes cause damage to cars and are particular hazards for cyclists and motorcyclists.
The Devon idea is to go to public consultation but has already been criticised in some quarters: Hugh Bladon, South West for the Alliance of British Drivers, was quoted in the Western Morning News: "You've got to be joking - I'm sorry but what are we paying our taxes for? That's plainly absurd. We're paying nearly £60bn in motoring taxes and if that's not enough for them to do their job then maybe we shouldn't pay them at all."
Devon has an alleged backlog of £766m worth of road repairs. It has a limited budget and is expected to make further cuts. How is it to solve the problem of deteriorating roads in this financial climate? Volunteers may be the answer, but unless those volunteers have adequate training in repair work and also in the adequate recording of defects and action taken, there is a risk that they may increase liability for the Council rather than reduce it.