An oil spill on a busy road will cost taxpayers nearly £200,000 to repair – and council chiefs believe it may have been deliberate.
Around 3,000 square metres of road will need to be resurfaced over three nights and one day, with the work set to start on Monday. James Brindley Way currently remains closed eastbound from the KFC roundabout to the Chatterley Whitfield pub.
Bosses at Stoke-on-Trent City Council believe the way the oil was spread across several areas of the carriageway indicates it may have been a deliberate act of vandalism, rather than just an accident.
CCTV footage is now being examined in an attempt to identify the vehicle involved in the incident, and the council is appealing for witnesses to come forward.
The affected highway needs to be completely resurfaced as the spilt diesel has now seeped into the tarmac, causing irreversible damage. Council officials say Monday is the earliest the repairs can begin.
Dan Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, infrastructure and heritage at the council, says that the repair work to James Brindley Way will ‘come at a cost’ to other projects.
He said: “As a motorist in the city, I am deeply frustrated like everybody else at the disruption this has caused and the money that now has to be spent to fix the problem, that will take funds away from other services.
“It is difficult to say at this stage with any certainty if it is an act of vandalism or an accident, but the amount of fuel and the number of locations is a cause for concern.
“With an accidental fuel leak you would expect a steady trickle in the middle of the carriageway that follows the direction of a vehicle. In this case the fuel is in multiple locations on the road, almost like it has been thrown about at random.
“There is no evidence of where it starts and stops, and no sign of an accident or any sort of collision having taken place in the area.
“On one roundabout there is oil near the centre of the road and also the kerb, so it looks like someone has driven round more than once. The police are now investigating to try and find the exact cause.
“A council staff member driving to work skidded on one of the roundabouts, and then saw the rear wheels on the car in front sliding, so they raised the alarm.
“We responded quickly and closed the roads, otherwise it could have been an even more serious situation.
“The bottom line is, through no fault of the council, we’ve had to close roads to ensure the safety of the public, particularly cyclists and motorcyclists, which has caused significant disruption to traffic.
“We will also have to use around £200,000 from the public purse to repair the damage which we had not budgeted for, and that will regrettably come at a cost to other services and projects.
“I would urge anyone with information to come forward so we can get to the bottom of this.”
The resurfacing will take place as follows:
- Monday, September 7: James Brindley Way, from 7pm. This will then be reopened from Tuesday morning in both directions;
- Tuesday, September 8: A527 Turnhurst Roundabout and off slip area, from 7pm;
- Wednesday, September 9: Chell Roundabout, from 7pm. Following this all lanes of traffic along James Brindley Way will be back in use on Thursday morning (September 10);
- Monday, September 14: Resurfacing of the A527 KFC roundabout in the daytime.
The resurfacing work will cost £165,000, with a further £10,000 to be spent on traffic management, £3,000 on gritting to add friction to the road, £3,000 on gully cleaning. The council has already spent £10,000 on emergency works.
Tom Simpson, chairman of Sandyford and Goldenhill Residents’ Association, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if this was deliberate.
“This is such as busy crossroads between the A50 and A527, with all the traffic going towards Biddulph and Congleton. If you wanted to cause some disruption, this is where you’d do it.
“If something like this had happen on the D-road it would have been fixed straightaway. Up here in the north of the city we do sometimes feel that we are ignored.”
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “Police were contacted by colleagues at highways at 6.20am on Friday, August 28, to a report of an oil spill on James Brindley Way and Biddulph Road. Officers assisted with road closures.”
Witnesses to the incident, which happened before 5am last Friday, are being urged to call the police on 101, quoting reference 87 of August 28.