Islington Council’s ‘rich versus poor’ road resurfacing policy slammed

Councillor Tracy Ismail

Councillor Tracy Ismail - Credit: Archant

A row has erupted over a town hall policy to fix roads in poor neighbourhoods before rich ones.

Rubber ducks take the plunge in a Highbury hole

Rubber ducks take the plunge in a Highbury hole - Credit: Archant

An Islington Council document called ‘Environment and regeneration: refocusing to deliver a fairer Islington’ states that if two streets have equally bad surfaces, officers can take into account the level of deprivation of the area when deciding which one to fix.

The council says the policy has never been used and doesn’t apply to potholes which are always fixed as quickly as possible, but the opposition Lib Dem group say the scheme is needlessly divisive.

Cllr Tracy Ismail, Lib Dem transport spokeman, said: “Potholes affect everyone in Islington. Very few parts of the borough, be they rich or poor, don’t have streets pocked with potholes with the situation getting worse all the time.

“Don’t we all use the same streets? Will roads in so-called posh areas like Highbury and Barnsbury have to wait even longer now to get their potholes fixed?

“This new ‘them and us’ policy is just playing residents in different streets off against each other. Labour councillors seem to think that if two streets have a big or dangerous pothole only the one in the poorer area should get fixed. What’s fair about that?”

They say the policy, which kicks in if a road is in the top 10 per cent of most deprived ares in the country, was first put forward back in 2010 but was scotched by officers who say it wouldn’t be fair or achievable.

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Cllr Rakhia Ismail, Islington Council’s executive member for sustainability, said: “All potholes in Islington are repaired as quickly as possible, wherever they are, and it’s nonsense to suggest otherwise.

“Islington’s performance at repairing potholes is currently the best in the UK, according to the Fill That Hole website.”

At the time of writing, Islington is rated 7th best on the Fill That Hole website, which ranks authorities according to how quickly they fix a reported pothole.

A council spokesman added there has not been a situation in Islington where scheduled highway work of equal priority has been determined by the deprivation index of the neighbourhood.