MOTORISTS have delivered a scathing verdict on Worcestershire's congestion problems in a major public survey.

The results of a significant household poll can today be revealed, which has highlighted serious public unease over frustrating tailbacks, shoddy public transport and the state of public footpaths.

It reveals:

- 50 per cent are "very" or "fairly" dissatisfied about the condition of Worcestershire's roads

- One in every two people say road and pavement repairs is the thing that needs improving the most, followed by congestion and public transport

- Only one in five respondents are 'satisfied' with bus services, with a whopping 49 per cent either "very" or "fairly" dissatisfied

The results were compiled after a series of mass household mailshots between May and June by Worcestershire County Council, with 4,960 people contacted.

Some 2,503 residents responded to the taxpayer-funded initiative, giving decision-makers the biggest insight of its kind into the public mood.

The dismal verdict on traffic, road and paving maintenance and public transport follows a year in which Worcester was regularly gridlocked.

It also comes after a period in which bus services have come under fierce criticism after routes were slashed following a decision to slash council funding from £3 million a year to £1.1 million, with evening services badly hit.

Campaigners from the Rural Services Network have named Worcestershire among the worst affected areas of the UK for bus cuts.

People in Worcester say they are not surprised with the feedback, calling the services "terrible".

Bus user Peter Carey, 85, who lives in Holly Mount, said: "It's absolutely dire, since the funding was cut so many buses have been taken away."

Worcester driver Paul Symonds, 41, of Belmont Street, said: "If you get one accident in Worcester, or if there's roadworks somewhere the whole place grinds to a halt.

"The road system is badly outdated. It needs something radical because the way we are going it will only get worse."

On the bus services, 25 per cent said they were ‘very dissatisfied’ with it while 24 per cent went for ‘fairly dissatisfied’ – 27 per cent were neither satisfied or dissatisfied.

Just six per cent were ‘very satisfied’ and 18 per cent ‘fairly satisfied’.

Elsewhere, while 28 per cent said they were ‘fairly satisfied’ with the condition of the roads just four per cent were ‘very satisfied’ and 50 per cent were dissatisfied with it, including 21 per cent who ticked the ‘very dissatisfied’ option.

Overall, 50 per cent said cited road/pavement repairs as the thing most in need of improving in Worcestershire while 45 per cent said congestion, followed by the health service at 25 per cent.

The results are part of a big survey called Viewpoint, which is done in conjunction with district councils and other bodies like the NHS and asks people a wide range of questions.

Bosses at County Hall - which has responsibility for highways and transport - have pointed to record investments in the network.

They are currently breaking budget records by sinking an extra £12 million into the roads under a programme called Driving Home, and point to condition surveys done within national guidelines which consistently put the highways in a good overall condition.

They also stand in better comparison with many of Worcestershire’s neighbouring counties such as Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Herefordshire.

The footpaths have had more than £12 million spent on them since 2010, including £800,000 in the last financial year as part of an ongoing maintenance programme.

Councillor Marcus Hart, the cabinet member for highways, said the public feedback shows a pattern from previous years, with many of the verdicts remarkably similar.

"We're working to ensure the best access to public transport at value for money for the taxpayer, and we're investing more than ever before in highways and footways," he said.

"Through our Driving Home programme we are investing an extra £12 million over the next two years in improving roads, on top of our usual investment this will make a real positive difference to the roads where people live and work.

“Worcestershire residents tell us time and time again that roads, footways and transport are important to them, and these results from the latest Viewpoint survey show that this pattern continues.”

Nigel Eggleton, managing director for First Buses Worcester, which runs most services, said: “We work closely with Worcestershire County Council and other partners to improve the bus network in the area.

“Although funding to support services is very limited at this time, we are constantly looking at other ways to improve the bus network through local or national government initiatives and schemes.

“We are constantly challenged to run services to areas that are only used infrequently by passengers which is a very difficult task, as all services need to at least cover the running costs to be sustainable.”

He said £2.4 million has been spent on new buses in Worcester over the last year.

But Worcester City Council's leader Councillor Adrian Gregson has labelled it a wake-up call.

He said: "We know congestion is an issue and it's not just the city, it's across the county, but Worcester is suffering badly.

"In terms of the footpaths, from a city perspective some of them are appalling and dangerous and when they are relaid, it's substandard.

"The cuts to bus services means many old, infirm people struggle to get out.

"We endorse people's views on this - we need to listen to these concerns and we want to work with the county council to seriously address this.”

The polling is designed to touch all districts in the county and the results are carefully weighted in terms of people’s personal profiles such as sex, age and ethnicity.

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