An innovative new event, Seeing is Believing, is offering local authorities a lifeline in their bid to bring Britain’s roads up to scratch following the worst winter in 30 years.
As controversy rages at the sorry state of Britain’s highways and who should foot the bill, motorists in their thousands are bombarding their local councils with complaints.
A survey for the Asphalt Industry Alliance last month revealed a 40 per cent rise in the number of potholes in local authority-maintained roads, leaving them facing a £400 million hole in maintenance budgets. Councils claim utility companies who dig up roads should shoulder their share of the burden.
Now, organisers of the new event, aimed primarily at local, regional and national managers of the UK’s highway network hopes it can help get things back on track.
Seeing is Believing is a revolutionary ‘try before you buy’ event where local authorities, utility companies and others involved in highway work can see the latest solutions to a range of problems in action, in a real-life environment.
A range of practical solutions will be unveiled at the three-day event, which takes place at the MIRA Proving Grounds, near Nuneaton, Warwickshire on November 9, 10 and 11.
Organiser Neil Levett said: "The problem on the UK roads is not confined to certain councils or regions – it’s nationwide. From minor roads and country lanes to motorways, the whole country has suffered.
"The UK’s road network managers are in a difficult position with diminishing funds available to maintain the network.
"Seeing is Believing will bring together major product, consultancy and IT suppliers from industry with the Highway Managers and provide them with a chance to see the products at work, being installed and trialled in a real live situation."
Seeing is Believing is unlike any other event in that is utilises the MIRA facility for mobile, working displays – outdoor on the track – as well offering a more comfortable meeting place in the indoor exhibition arena. Visitors are able to see products at work in a range of conditions – by day, at dusk and in the dark. There will be ongoing demonstrations and displays and the chance to see products at use in their natural outdoor environment.
Grant Prior, Editor of Highways magazine, said: "Seeing is Believing is the perfect showcase for our industry to demonstrate the most effective and economic solutions to a wide range of current carriageway concerns."
Figures from the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) state the average cost of fixing a pothole is about £70 and the last two years have seen a 60% increase in potholes in roads. This winter’s cold weather exposed roads to ‘freeze-thaw-freeze’ conditions. This meant water flooding into road cracks and expanding them upon freezing, thawing – then doing it all over again.
Seeing is Believing ran on a much smaller scale in 2008 and it was so successful that an exit poll showed 98% of visitors said they would return. As such, this year’s event promises to be even bigger and better, with space for 65 exhibitors and more than 2,000 visitors.
Neil Levett said: "Seeing is Believing is the only opportunity in the UK for visitors to see real, working, highway-related products in their real, working environments. It’s a great way to promote products as well as being an interesting and informal opportunity to network with like-minded people and to find out more about new products and initiatives in the highways industry."
Seeing is Believing is endorsed by the Institute of Highways Engineers, the Institute of Highways and Transportation, the Institute of Asphalt Technology and the Road Safety Marking Association.