Recently, I watched the webcast of the West Sussex County Council meeting of 14th February. The ruling Conservative group were approving a budget of £30 million in the next two years to fix potholes in what are called ‘unclassified roads’.
An amendment (which was defeated by the Conservatives) was tabled by opposition parties for a small proportion of that figure to be put into improving the state of the footpaths. Conservative county councillor Richard Burrett opposed this because he said that the only issue his Pound Hill voters approach him about is potholes.
I am well aware that potholes issue is a real one, that the bad weather recently has exacerbated it and that resources must be allocated to alleviate it.
However, I have to say that, as a Northgate borough councillor, since Christmas, the issue that residents have approached me about mainly is the state of the footpaths.
Four very specific areas have been brought to my attention although I am sure the problem is more widespread and not only in Northgate. Issues include their unevenness, their susceptibility to flooding and subsequent muddiness and when I ask for something to be done by WSCC the response is that the problem is (as with many potholes) ‘below intervention level’.
The chances of the four Northgate examples being attended to seem pretty slim in the foreseeable future.
People who bother to complain about the footpaths tend to be older or those with vision impairment.
A recently daily newspaper included the research-based headline ‘Walks can delay brain decline’ and it is well known that walking has other health benefits.
It also reduces our dependence on burning fossil fuels in cars and buses and paying for the privilege - and polluting our atmosphere with the carbon dioxide etc which , it now seems to be largely accepted, is affecting our climate and daily weather.
I urge WSCC to put a bit more thought into improving the state of our footpaths. Motorists are pedestrians too and could be persuaded to walk more and drive less.
Cllr Geraint Thomas, Crawley Borough Council (Lab, Northgate)