United Kingdom

Councils across the UK ‘refusing to fix potholes’ that are ‘too small’

A third of local authorities in Britain state that there is a minimum size a pothole must be before repairs are considered, according to an investigation by the RAC and Channel 4 programme Dispatches.

The most common depth size is around 4cm (1.6in) in 54 council areas, but in the case of six councils – Warwickshire, Torbay, Thurrock, Nottingham, Torfaen and South Lanarkshire – potholes need to be at least 5cm (2in) deep to be considered for repair.

Thirteen local authorities, including Buckinghamshire, Stockport and Devon, state only those at least 30cm (11.8in) wide and 4cm (1.6in) deep will be fixed.

The Northern Echo: A third of council areas are said to have a minimum criteria for fixing potholesA third of council areas are said to have a minimum criteria for fixing potholes (Image: Getty)

UK councils ‘refusing to fix potholes’ that are ‘too small’

37% of local authorities also state that they take a “risk-based approach” when it comes to deciding what potholes will be repaired while 29% say they have no criteria at all.

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “For a long time, we’ve advised the public to report each and every pothole they come across to their local authority, not least as a council can refuse to compensate for damage caused from hitting one if they can prove they didn’t know it existed.

“But unfortunately, as this analysis shows, just reporting a road defect doesn’t guarantee it will get fixed.

“In some cases, councils state a pothole needs to be sufficiently deep or wide to be considered for repair.

“This can be enormously frustrating for anyone who comes across one, reports it but then witnesses it get even bigger and more dangerous as it didn’t quite reach a council’s threshold for repair.”

This comes after the UK Government announced plans to give councils in England and Wales £8.3 billion to tackle the state of the roads over the next 11 years.

The cost of bringing pothole-plagued roads in England and Wales up to scratch has been estimated at £16.3 billion.

The Northern Echo: This comes after the Government announced funding to repair roads in England and WalesThis comes after the Government announced funding to repair roads in England and Wales (Image: Getty)


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Darren Rodwell, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Councils are on the side of all road users and want to focus on properly resurfacing our roads, including tackling the £16.3 billion backlog of road repairs.

“Many factors affect repair rates, such as the road profile, traffic levels and available budgets.

“Councils would much prefer to focus on preventative repairs but only greater, year-on-year long-term funding certainty for maintaining all parts of our highways will help them achieve this.

“The Government should award council highways departments five-yearly funding allocations, on a par with National Highways, to give them more certainty to develop resurfacing programmes and other improvements to help prevent potholes in the first place.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Local authorities are responsible for maintaining their local roads, including setting criteria for repairs, but we’re supporting them with an additional £8.3 billion of reallocated HS2 funding – the biggest ever funding increase for local road improvements.

“We have also introduced new reporting requirements which mean local authorities will need to report on their road maintenance progress on a quarterly basis, ensuring taxpayers can hold them to account for how they spend the record funding increase.”

The War On Britain’s Motorists: Dispatches will broadcast tonight (Thursday, May 23) from 8pm on Channel 4.



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