Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has promised a clampdown on potholes, as campaigning for the local elections gets under way. His clampdown come as figures show raw sewage spilled into English rivers 825 times a day last year.
There is no doubt that pot holes are annoying but surely the sewage issue is more of a problem to focus on?
However, all politics is local and fixing potholes could do the party well in the upcoming local and indeed general election.
On a visit to Darlington he said new powers would help ensure firms repair roads properly after carrying out works, through more fines and inspections.
The government said it was investing more than £5.5bn between 2020 and 2025 into highways maintenance, with an extra £200m to help fix potholes announced in March’s budget.
“There’ll be more fines, more inspections, that’s also going to help. We want to make sure it’s easy for people to get around,” Sunak said.
On the sewage matter Thérèse Coffey, the environment secretary, is facing calls from the Liberal Democrats to resign over failures to stop sewage spills, as the party argues she “doesn’t care” about the issue.
While the data shows a 19% reduction in the number of sewage spills – down from 372,533 in 2021 to 301,091 spills in 2022 – government sources said this was still more than would have been expected as last year was so dry.
The Environment Agency executive director, John Leyland, said: “The decrease in spills in 2022 is largely down to dry weather, not water company action.
“We want to see quicker progress from water companies on reducing spills and acting on monitoring data.
“We expect them to be fully across the detail of their networks and to maintain and invest in them to the high standard that the public expect and the regulator demands.”
The Lib Dem leader, Ed Davey, said: “A historic drought is no excuse for this government’s inaction and failure. The environment secretary has let water companies get away with this environmental crime for far too long. It is clear she simply doesn’t care enough to get tough on these polluting firms. Thérèse Coffey must now resign or be sacked so we can have an environment secretary who actually cares about saving our rivers from destruction.”
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