Council chief branded incompetent as Hull gridlock intensifies

A ROW over a road maintenance project in Hull that is wreaking havoc with traffic during one of the busiest periods of the year has intensified after a senior councillor was accused of “incompetence” over his handling of the affair.

Work to carry out urgent repairs to County Road North flyover began on Monday, September 24, after a survey found parts of the concrete structure were falling away.

But as the scheme on one of the city’s main arteries coincided with other works in areas including Anlaby Road, Spring Bank West, Bricknell Avenue and Park Street, the impact on Hull’s already strained transport network has been severe, with long tailbacks and increased journey times causing misery to motorists, residents and businesses.

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And with Hull Fair set to get under way on Friday – an event that usually attracts 500,000 visitors – there are fears of a major meltdown.

The issue prompted a flurry of activity yesterday, with the city council claiming the flyover works would now be completed nearly a month ahead of schedule, opposition councillors at the Labour-led authority calling for an explanation from Martin Mancey, the portfolio holder for transport and emergency planning, and Coun Mancey in turn asking the authority’s transport scrutiny commission to review the way roadworks are planned and managed.

Coun Mike Ross, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said he had been contacted by many small businesses in the area which had suffered as a result and who were now demanding answers. He said: “This situation was completely avoidable and the buck has to stop with the Labour portfolio holder. Lib Dem councillors in West Hull have been warning for some time about what would happen. They were ignored and people are suffering as a result of Councillor Mancey’s incompetence.”

He added: “Local traders and residents have been in touch with me angry about what has been allowed to happen. Councillor Mancey should explain himself to all concerned.”

Coun Mancey hit back, claiming problems with the flyover were first identified under a Liberal Democrat administration in 2006, and if action had been taken then the current problems would not have materialised.

He said: “If the Lib Dems had taken action in 2006 it would not have been necessary to carry out such extensive works now. I’m fully prepared to stand up and be counted on policy issues, but to expect a portfolio holder to scrutinise in detail traffic planning work carried out by officers is a bit rich.”

He added: “To say it was avoidable – they did not raise it at the last council meeting; they have not raised it with me once until after the event. They are trying to exploit the situation for political purposes and this should not be a political or policy issue.”