Britain’s ‘pothole plague’ requires £10 billion to fix and repairs could take a decade, MPs warn
The Transport Select Committee says that £10 billion is needed for the repairs, but even then it would still take a decade to complete the work.
MPs are calling on the Treasury to provide a “front-loaded”, five-year funding settlement so that local authorities can address the “road maintenance backlog and plan confidently for the future”.
It says that with local government revenue funding falling by 25% since 2010, authorities have diverted the money to plug other gaps such as social care.
This lack of funding certainty has led to many councils taking short-term decisions on road maintenance.
Committee chair Lilian Greenwood says: “Local authorities are in the invidious position of having to rob Peter to pay Paul.
“Cash-strapped councils are raiding their highways and transport budgets to fund core services.”
The transport committee says that the deteriorating local road network “undermines local economic performance and results in direct costs to taxpayers.”
It criticised the “mend and make do approach” of repairing potholes on the cheap, which results in them often quickly opening up again.
The report warned that potholes damage cars and cause injuries to passengers, particularly those with existing medical conditions.
It also pointed out that the number of cyclists killed on because of poor quality roads had tripled since 2005 to 15 a year.
It adds that pedestrians, the elderly and the vulnerable are being left feeling “anxious and isolated, afraid to leave their own homes”.
Ms Greenwood adds: “Local roads are the arteries of our villages, towns and cities, but most people won’t have to go further than the local shops to spot a pothole that poses a risk of injury or damage.
“Almost every journey begins and ends on local roads. The Department for Transport must work with the public and local authorities to make them safe.”
Potholes are caused when moisture gets into the cracks in the road which expands when it freezes.
According to the RAC, more than half a million potholes were reported to local authorities by the public in 2017.
Analysis by the RAC Foundation shows that local highway authorities across the country are increasingly adopting a ‘risk-based approach’ to fixing road defects.
Response times to the most serious defects are influenced by how many miles of road a council has to manage and the geographical size of the council area.
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the 2018 Budget that local authorities would receive an extra £420 million to help tackle potholes on British roads.
Potholes can not only make a journey highly uncomfortable but can also damage vehicles.
The RAC reports that between April and June 2018, it was called out 4,091 times for damage to shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels.
If your car has been damaged by a pothole you can claim compensation from your local council.
Motorists can also report potholes and other damage to road surfaces to the RAC.
How to report a pothole
The RAC has encouraged people to report potholes to local authorities in order to ensure councils and local government identify and tackle problem roads.
Where you report a pothole depends on where you found it. If the pothole is on an A road or motorway in England, you’ll have to contact them at email@example.com or 0300 123 5000 (24 hours).
If you found the pothole on a local road, you’ll need to contact the council responsible for maintaining the road. To find the contact details of the council you’ll need to speak to, use the government tool: https://www.gov.uk/report-pothole.
Enter your postcode in the tool to find the relevant authority’s contact information or website.