Potholes increase by 60% in a year as 1 in 5 roads in bad state
Ray Massey, Transport Editor
Last updated at 9:27 AM on 31st March 2011
Motorists have endured a 59 per cent rise in potholes to more than 2.2 million in the past year - with £10billion needed to get Britain's crumbling roads into a decent state of repair, a new report reveals.
The problem has been exacerbated by the winter cold snap which has left one in five local roads in England and up to a quarter in London in a poor state of repair, putting lives at risk for the sake of £54 to fill each pothole.
But it would take an estimated 11 years to fully clear the backlog of cracks on English roads outside of London, compared to nine years for the capital and 14 years for Wales, it adds.
Potholes increasing: The problem has been exacerbated by the winter cold snap which has left 1 in 5 local roads in England in a bad state
The total number of potholes filled in 2010/11 reached more than 2.2 million - a 59 per cent increase on 2009/10, says the report from the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) and backed by the AA.
The shortfall in the highway maintenance budget received from central Government by England and Wales councils in 2011 amounted to £895 million, 12 per cent up on last year, it said.
Highways engineers reported that one in five local roads in England were considered to be in poor condition, with the figure for London being as high as 25per cent.
In addition, 17 per cent of Welsh local roads were thought to be in a poor condition.
Local authorities in England and Wales estimated that a one-off payment of £10.65billion would be needed to get their roads back into reasonable condition.
This is an increase of £1.15 billion on the amount estimated last year.
Nine out of ten local authorities say under-funding of highway maintenance programmes is creating a threat to road-user safety.
The report said most authorities in England and Wales were unable to make good the damage caused at the beginning of 2010 before the snow fell again at the end of the year.
London fared better and two thirds of authorities in the capital did manage to complete repairs on their roads before freezing conditions set in again.
The total cost of the bad-weather damage to roads in early 2010 was estimated at £362 million.
On average, each local authority in England, excluding London, filled in an average of just under 16,000 potholes in 2010/11 at a cost of £53.81 per hole.
For all England and Wales councils, there were more than 16,000 reports or complaints about potholes from the public in 2010/11.
Over recent weeks, the Government has announced an extra £200 million for councils to deal with potholes.
This followed a £100 million that was made available by the Labour Government last year.
AIA chairman Colin Loveday said: 'Local authorities are doing what they can, but reactive maintenance - such as simply filling potholes when they appear - is at least 20 times more expensive than planned preventative maintenance.
'The annual shortfall in budget has increased this year and spending review cuts translate to a potential loss of another £440 million over the next four years.
'The recently-announced additional £200 million is welcome but if the Government wants to save the country money it should be investing in local roads now to save a massive repair bill later on.'
It would take an estimated 11 years to fully clear the backlog of cracks on English roads outside of London
AA president Edmund King said deteriorating road conditions were a 'serious problem' and a road safety blight: 'But £100 million here and there, although welcome, simply isn't going to fix a problem of this scale. It is a drop in the ocean compared to the billions needed to bring the roads up to scratch.'
More than four in five drivers think the condition of the roads has got worse over the last three years, according to an AA/Populus survey.
Some 92 per cent of drivers in Scotland believe conditions had deteriorated in the last three years.
Roads in Yorkshire/Humberside and in north west and north east England were also considered to be particularly bad in the survey of 14,984 AA members.
Mr King said: 'Harsh winter weather over three years has clearly taken its toll as Britain's roads have been under attack from frost and thaw which weakens vulnerable sections of road.
He went on: 'We have to keep up the battle against this blight which damages cars and risks road safety, especially for those on two wheels.'
A survey of nearly 350 RAC patrol teams found that there had been a 25 per ecnt increase in callouts resulting from potholes and poor road conditions over the past 12 months.
Wheel and tyre damage was the most common problem caused by potholes.
A total of 89 per cent of the patrols said rural roads were in a poor condition, while 82 per cent rated suburban road conditions as poor.
RAC motoring strategist Adrian Tink said: 'It's been a tough year for both the roads and the local councils manfully trying to repair them.
'Both have suffered from a harsh winter and budget cuts.'
Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said the coalition Government was providing £3 billion to councils for road maintenance over the next four years:'On top of this we are exceptionally providing an extra windfall of £200 million to repair potholes on the local road network following the severe winter weather at the end of last year.'
But councils had to properly plan and manage their road maintenance programmes throughout the year, he said.
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perhaps if councils stopped filling them with porridge and custard they wouldn't break up so quickly when it gets cold. Or maybe if the council repair guys did a proper job... same result - they would stay intact. Simples.
- mike1, london pot hole capital of the world, 31/3/2011 17:41
Cancel ALL foreign aid (£7.8 billion) and stop handing over £9 billion of our money to the EU-SSR every year. That's £16.8 billion right there to fix our country. Charity begins at home...
- Rod, London, 31/3/2011 17:09
Its not just the holes that are dangerous, my elderly mother had a pothole outside her home and the mess was getting in to her front garden where ultimately it would have been trodden into her home and also the stones were a slip hazard for my mother as she is not so steady on her legs. When I called her councillor about this he had a stinking attitude and did not want to know about the hole untill I got very threatening about H & S . Another thing is all the loose rubble is ending up in the gutters then blocking the roadside drains. False economy councillors!
- Sid, Cornwall, 31/3/2011 17:07
Over a mile of road near me is being repaired as I write. Every single pothole is in a shoddy repair, to the trench dug by a company, so they could lay their computer cable. The original road is fine, just the infill for the trench is failing. I bet the public purse is paying for this, not the company responsible for the shoddy work resulting in potholes, damaged car wheels, tyres and more importantly danger to individuals. I note the same is happening wherever I travel, whether it,s the gas board, electric or whatever messed with the orginal road surface..
- alan, warks, 31/3/2011 16:04
Whatever is happening in England is nothing compared to Scotland's road problems. Uncountable numbers of cracks, potholes, sunken drain covers and broken running surfaces make driving often dangerous. Yet we plan to spend a BILLION or TWO on yet another bridge over the Forth while the main arterial road serving the North is killing drivers and is reputed to be one of the most dangerous in the country. Someone has got their priorities wrong, and in May, we might just see what we motorists think of this mess. Years and years of "postponed" repairs, diverted funds and incompetance has yet to be paid for at the ballot box, methinks..
- Ian. Scotland, Ayrshire. Scotland, 31/3/2011 15:59
We have plenty of money for wars but not our roads.
- will, gillingham, 31/3/2011 15:40
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