National Pothole Day captured the public’s imagination after another year of deterioration in our roads.
A series of exceptionally rainy or cold winters has played havoc with the state of Britain’s roads: potholes are usually the result either of water erosion or of frost damage to the road surface.
£12 billion+ deficit
Last year , it was estimated by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) that the amount of money needed to restore local roads in England to a “reasonable condition” had risen to a record high of just over £12 billion.
Streetrepairs.co.uk is responsible for organising National Pothole Day.
It wants UK drivers to use this opportunity to give their views on the state of roads in their area as well as to report any particularly serious potholes.
The site has been set up to make it easy for motorists to alert their local councils about road problems.
As well as potholes, residents can report the likes of fly tipping or defective lighting – this can be done directly on the site or by using StreetRepairs’ dedicated smartphone app.
Reports are passed on to local authorities, which then keep the site and its users informed about what action they’re taking.
The poor condition of local roads – as opposed to motorways and major A roads – is one of drivers’ biggest bugbears at present.
In its Report on Motoring 2015, the RAC found that potholes were a bigger issue even than fuel prices or road safety.
It appears clear that spending on maintenance both by local councils and central government has failed to keep pace with the rate of deterioration suffered by UK roads.
Does new fund go far enough?
In the recent Autumn Statement, the Chancellor George Osborne said that he would set up a new “pothole fund”, which will set aside £250 million to be spent on road maintenance and repair between now and the end of the decade.
But how effective this fund will be in tackling the lack of recent investment remains to be seen.
AA president Edmund King said: “The pothole fund of £250 million over five years is a sticking-plaster approach to a massive maintenance backlog.
Making a reference to the Beatles song A Day In The Life, King added: “The fund may fill 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire, but it won’t cover the national maintenance backlog by a country mile.”
"Drop in the ocean"
David Bizley at the RAC echoed King’s view that the £250 million was only a fraction of the funding needed.
“The extra £250m being allocated to the pothole fund over the next five years is good news but is, of course, no more than a drop in the ocean in terms of the scale of the problem across Britain’s 245,000 miles of road,” Bizley said.
“The government’s own estimated backlog for repairing local roads is up to £8.6 billion, which shows the scale of the funding shortage.
“We urge local authorities to use this money wisely by carrying out preventative maintenance rather than just short-term remedial repairs.”
The RAC said it wanted to see councils given the freedom to allocate funds to bring their roads up to standard.
“According to RAC research, this is exactly what their council tax payers want.”