Unfilled pothole

Eleven million potholes across UK to go unfilled due to council budget cutbacks

Holes in the logic

MORE THAN 11 million potholes are set to go unfilled following council budget cuts due to go into effect from April.

Road maintenance funding to rural councils is to be slashed by £480 million to £727 million, down from some £1.2 billion just two years ago.

Councils outside England’s larger urban areas now say they will be forced to either cancel or significantly scale back road maintenance work as a result.

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With the latest research by the Asphalt Industry Alliance finding that the average pothole costs £41.61 to fill, the funding cuts mean that approximately 11.5 million potholes will go unfilled over the next year.

Martin Hill, the devolution spokesperson at the County Councils Network (CCN), a body representing county councils, said:

“A £479 million drop in funding between 2021 and 2023 is hugely significant. With the government making such a clear announcement that it was increasing pothole funding in 2019, we are left grappling with the public’s expectation that we are able to continue to invest in our road network.

“Unless this reduction is reversed and the government provides an urgent injection of resources to match the level it distributed in 2020-21, then we will have little choice but to cancel planned works. This would represent a major scaling back of our ambitions.”

“Unless this reduction is reversed then we will have little choice but to cancel planned works”

According to analysis conducted by the CCN, 13,000 miles of rural roads in 36 affected areas required maintenance last year, equating to 9% of the national road network.

In its 2019 election manifesto pledge, the Conservative Party promised that an extra £2.5 billion would be earmarked for road maintenance over the lifetime of the government — £500 million per year. Rural councils are, however, receiving 40% less than they did two years ago.

South-west of England to be worst hit

The south-west of England will be the biggest loser in the upcoming budget cuts with funding reduced by £100.7 million, equating to the filling of 2.4 million potholes.

Counties in the south-east will lose out on £87.1 million in funding, the equivalent to two million potholes, while those in east of the country face a loss of £71.4 million, which could have filled 1.7 million potholes.

Pothole repair funding cutbacks

In contrast, England’s cities and urban areas will see an investment of £5.7 billion over the next three years in road and transport infrastructure.

Road maintenance also refers to jobs such as line-painting and hedge-cutting, not just dealing with potholes, though damage to vehicles and delays to journeys as a result of poorly-maintained road surfaces affect drivers disproportionately.

Last year, the RAC dealt with more than 10,000 pothole-related breakdown incidents ranging from burst tyres and cracked wheels to significantly damaged suspensions. This worked out at 27 callouts a day, the highest total since 2018.

In a survey by IAM Roadsmart (formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists), nine out of ten of the 2,000 drivers surveyed said that they were affected by potholes last year, with nearly a third (31%) saying they have changed their route to work to avoid pothole-ridden roads.

More than half (54%) said that they had to swerve or brake sharply to avoid an impact with a pothole.

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