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The truth about potholes

Published: 05 December 2014

Updated: 05 December 2014

Most of us have an inkling of the scale of the pothole problem, just from the number we see every day. But the picture is even more dramatic when you look at the research.

The latest study by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), for example, shows that last year alone, the one-off cost of repairing all the roads went up from £10.5 billion to £12 billion. In other words, Britain’s roads got £1.5 billion worse in just one year - and that’s despite the Government shelling out for various pothole-fixing initiatives.

Local Government Association transport chief Peter Box summed up the situation like this: ‘Councils are trapped in an endless cycle of patching up our deteriorating network. Reinvesting a small proportion of fuel duty would allow councils to bring our roads up to scratch over the next decade.”

Key highlights of the study are:

  • 40% of councils still don’t have a Highways Asset Management Plan, meaning they have no long term plan of how they will maintain the roads they control.
  • 35% of London councils’ budgets are spent on reactive maintenance (ie rushing round filling in potholes). This is 20 times more expensive than planned maintenance. Non-London counties averages 24%.
  • The average frequency of resurfacing outside London is 68 years, when most road surfaces have a natural life of 20-25 years. London’s busier network gets resurfaced on average every 32 years.
  • The average amount each council spent just processing compensation claims last year was £88,000. The total paid out came to £11.1m, 50% up on the year before.
  • 18% of roads are classed by councils as in ‘poor structural condition,’ meaning the roads have less than five years left before they break up completely.

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Pothole infographic

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