More potholes got fixed in England and Wales in 2017/18 compared to the previous year, rising by a fifth – but a road maintenance industry body has said the repairs are temporary fixes, and the extra cash spent to remedy defects remains far short of the investment needed.
Meanwhile Cycling UK says that its inaugural Pothole Watch week earlier this month saw online reports of road defects needing repairing double.
BBC News reports today that a survey by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) found that spending on fixing potholes rose by £24.5 million during the period, a 20 per cent increase on the previous year and enabling an additional 330,000 potholes to be fixed.
But the AIA – which has said that £9.79 billion would need to be spent over the next decade to fully remedy the problem – claims that much of the work done on 1.86 million potholes in 2017/18 consisted of “patch and mend” fixes rather than permanent repairs.
The trade body highlighted big discrepancies in the amount spent by individual councils, with its chairman, Rick Green, saying: "Sustained investment over a longer time frame is needed if we want a local road network that supports enhanced mobility, connectivity and productivity."
However, Martin Tett, transport spokesman at the Local Government Association insisted that cash-strapped councils were doing as much as they could.
"Faced with severe financial pressures, councils have managed to spend more on road repairs in the past year in order to fix a pothole every 17 seconds," he said.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport spokesman said the government was committed to help councils address the issue.
He said: "Potholes are a huge problem for all road users and the government is taking action, providing local authorities with more than £6.6 billion for roads maintenance and pothole repair in the six years to 2021."
Earlier this month, Cycling UK held its inaugural Pothole Watch week, and Sam Jones, campaigns and communications officer at the national cyclists’ charity, has given us an update on how it went.
“During Cycling UK's inaugural 'Pothole Watch' week pothole reports via Fill That Hole doubled in comparison to the same period in 2017, with 544 reports – one every 15 minutes,” he said.
“The feedback we've had from the increased number of users has been informative, so one of our next steps at Cycling UK is to look into how we can improve the apps for both Apple and Android devices.
“Cycling UK recently given evidence to the Commons Transport Committee on the state of the UK's local roads network, and currently we're waiting for the inquiry's conclusions, and the Government's response.
“A lot depends on that as to what our next actions will be. In the meantime we'd encourage everyone to keep on reporting potholes, as highway authorities need all the help they receive in identifying problem patches on their roads, particularly on minor roads,” he added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.