Isle of Wight council is fifth worst (of 150+) in the country for A-roads in need of maintenance (updated)

Eight years of Government data, researched by the BBC, has exposed that the Isle of Wight is the fifth worst local authority in the country – out of over 150 – A-roads in need of maintenance. Although B and C roads are better, the council is still not in the top third.

isle of wight potholes

Analysis of eight years of public data from the Department for Transport (Dft) has revealed that out of 151 local authorities the Isle of Wight is the fifth worst in the country for maintaining A roads.

The data found that the Isle of Wight – with 121km of A roads – had the fifth highest percentage of A roads (12.5 per cent) in need of maintenance (average from 2009-10 to 2016-17).

This is despite the Highways PFI contractor, Island Roads, declaring to have rebuilt or resurfaced 300km of highway Islandwide since 2013.

“Significant improvements” on B and C roads
The picture is better for the Isle of Wight’s B and C roads though.

The data revealed “there were significant improvements” with the Isle of Wight 59th out of 151 local authorities.

Extended core investment period
The first years of the 25 year Highways PFI contract are what’s referred to as the ‘core investment period’.

Traditionally core investment periods are five years, but at the start of the contract, a longer period (seven years) was negotiated to “seek to minimise disruption, particularly in the tourism season”.

You can read the full detail of what was to be included in the PFI contract on this council press release from 2012.

Compensation claims
Luke Bosdet, the AA’s public affairs spokesman, said:

“Pothole location will be dictated by a number of factors, such as amount and type of traffic, amount and standard of roadworks, and nature of the road (junctions, drainage, etc). Some stretches of road may look particularly ropey, but may have reached the point where it is cost effective for the local authority to resurface them – the locals are moaning like hell, but the council has the work scheduled.

“Local factors can mean that particularly nasty pothole hotspots are often where the roads are under greatest pressure and threaten damage / injuries to larger numbers of road users.

“Cynically, compensation claims to the council for damage to vehicles will be more frequent and greater on busier A roads – while the cost of injuries on minor roads gets passed mostly on to the NHS.”

Response from the council
OnTheWight has approached the council to ask how the Isle of Wight could be positioned as fifth worst in the country, when the PFI contract was four years into the core investment period.

Update 28th March
Seven days later, a spokesperson for the IWC said,

“The data used by the BBC for their recent analysis has been compiled from publicly available information collected annually by the Department for Transport (DfT). A survey of the Island’s roads is conducted each year using a process known as SCANNER where a vehicle equipped with sophisticated laser measuring equipment travels the road network recording a number of parameters which are then used to calculate the condition of the network. This is a process that is accredited to a UK standard to ensure consistency of road assessment across all Council Authorities. This information is then reported to the DfT and made publicly available via its website. Since the commencement of the PFI project in April 2013, Island Roads has fulfilled this obligation on behalf of the Isle of Wight Council.

“The BBC’s approach has been to use 8 years of data in order to calculate an average for the period 2009/2010 through to 20016/2017. Since the commencement of the PFI contract in 2013, Island Roads have conducted the SCANNER surveys in April each year which effectively gives a snap shot of the road condition at the start of each reporting period. The effect of this is that the reported BBC data only represents 3 years of the 7 year PFI investment period and therefore 5 years of the data included in the BBC analysis represents the condition of the Island’s roads prior to the PFI commencing. Focusing on the 3 years of data that falls within the PFI contract it can be seen that the percentage of A roads needing maintenance has improved falling from a high of 18% in 2010/ 11 (pre PFI) to 5% in 2016/17.

“The most recent data included within the BBC analysis was captured by SCANNER during April 2016, making the data almost 2 years old. In the two years since then Island Roads has treated another 170km or carriageway across A, B & C, and U classification of roads which will, without doubt, create a significant improvement to the Island’s UK ranking for highway condition. Island Roads is now preparing for the 2018/19 data submission with carriageway surveys programmed to start after the Easter break.

“With another 2 years of core investment still to be delivered it will not be until the DfT publish its 2019/2020 data that we will have a clear comparison of the benefits of the PFI. It is however clear from all the indicators available at this stage that we are on track towards becoming an Authority with some of the best roads in the UK and we trust that Island residents and businesses are already recognising the improvement in our road network.”

Article edits
21.3.18 – Removed “when Island Roads are approaching the end of its fifth year under the PFI contract” from penultimate paragraph.
28.3.18 – Added comment from the IWC

Wednesday, 21st March, 2018 6:27pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, PFI, Roads, Top story

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17 Comments on "Isle of Wight council is fifth worst (of 150+) in the country for A-roads in need of maintenance (updated)"

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What about about that rather large “pothole” on the A3055 between St Lawrence and Niton? Does that appear in the statistics?

I do not believe it

We’ve just returned after a week of driving around Lanzarote. The roads were smooth, level and good. Not one pothole spotted. All paid for by the EU!


A pavement in a cul-de-sac of six houses in Bembridge was dug up and replaced.
A super job – but no one ever walks on it.


How many councillors live there?


Having just returned from a trip to Herts. & Beds. I can assure you that they have a serious problem in that area too. Most of the driving time is spent spotting and avoiding potholes, some of which would inflict damage if encountered at speed.


What about green lane in Shanklin been down 21 months a least 25 places that are breaking up have reported to island roads in June 2017 no action yet


Last year Bob Seely described our roads as 19th century, so now he is our MP why hasn’t he done anything about it?


At least they are now marking the faults on the roads they resurfaced last year but they probably won’t repair then for a few years. Our pavements were marked up last May to be done in July perhaps it will be July this year?

Quote “OnTheWight has approached the council to ask how the Isle of Wight could be positioned as fifth worst in the country, when Island Roads are approaching the end of its fifth year under the PFI contract.” Err, because the data does not include up to the end of the fifth year, the data only goes up to the beginning of the 3rd year!! (2016, not even… Read more »
Sorry, but I have to say that in my opinion (and friends and family), Our roads have never been as good. Sure there are areas that need repair, but thinking back to pre-PFI I see major improvements over all the areas I drive, but perhaps I am just lucky. I should also state that I absolutely despise everything to do with PFI arrangements but just this once… Read more »
@ davimel I couldn’t agree more. Probably depends on where you live but many of the worst roads have been done although there are still plenty needing attention. My only grouse at the workmanship would be some of the drains which appear to be opening up or sinking after only a few months. It will be interesting to see if all the major works get completed within… Read more »
Davimel and Colin. Some roads are okay if you discount the cheap slidy surface. Other roads are shocking. The point is that the first £8 million or so of our council tax plus an equivalent from government each year is paid to an offshore company to the detriment of our less fortunate and assorted public services ( Libraries, Toilets, Social care etc. ). Add to that the… Read more »
Steve Goodman

A reminder of the OTW reports of Mike Starke’s excellent work showing how much the con. council quietly cut back on road maintenance during the years they were planning the switch to PFI and all the reports warning of the long period pricey perils of PFI commitments.

Of course the position in the league table looks worse than the reality is. You’ve taken data from years 2009 -2016. Of those 7 years data, 4 years were before the pfi, one year was with only 1 year of resurfacing, the next was only 2 years in to the 7 year period, and the last was only 3 years out of 7 core investment the period!… Read more »

The road between Military road and main Brighstone rd is perfect. Shame no one see it though, except the odd dog walker.