Motorists are ‘biting back’ today as part of the UK’s first National Pothole Day, shaming roads ‘blighted’ by damage and ‘savaged’ local maintenance budgets.
It is thought a third of local roads are currently in urgent need of repair, with recent reports suggesting some councils are facing a local repairs backlog worth up to a £100m.
Today’s National Pothole Day aims to ‘harness the frustrations’ of motorists, with drivers from across the UK called on to submit photos of damage caused by road craters and highways in need of repair via social media.
Organised by streetrepairs.co.uk and backed by tyregiant.com, the campaign will raise publicity for the Street Repairs App – which aims to provide a single point of contact through which residents can submit pothole problems to their council.
The Government has announced where its record £6bn fund for potholes and local road maintenance would be spent over the next six years. While the Department for Transport estimated the investment would help fill around 18 million potholes across the country, the Local Government Association (LGA) warned the cash was ‘short of what was needed’.
Supporting National Pothole Day, Labour’s shadow roads minister, Richard Burden, said the country faced a ‘national pothole epidemic’ with millions of journeys ‘blighted’ by ‘battered roads’.
‘But Tory Ministers are more bothered about a top-down reorganisation of the Highways Agency which looks after just 2% of UK roads. They are also conning the public about what they are doing about pothole Britain. Budgets for local road maintenance have been savaged and in real terms will be lower in 2020 that they were five years ago. It is time the Government sorted their priorities out.
‘On National Pothole Day people are taking the problem into our own hands,’ he added. ‘It is time the Government listened and fixed pothole Britain.’
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin claims the Government has ‘committed £10bn between 2010 and 2021’ to road maintenance, helping create a ‘transport network fit for the 21st century’.
A Department for Transport spokesman added: 'Potholes are a menace to all road users and that is why this Government is taking action. We recently announced a record £6bn for councils in England to tackle potholes and improve local road conditions over the next six years.
'This funding is on top of the £4.7bn we have provided since 2010 - which is over £1bn more than in the previous Parliament - and includes £168m awarded last year as part of a dedicated pothole fund.'
Councils have also been warned today against reactive maintenance of road damage, with companies claiming it costs at least 20 times more per square metre to fill a pothole than it does to resurface a road.
Will Baron, product director at Keysoft Solutions, said: ‘Local authorities need to get out of this vicious cycle of reactive road repairs because as soon as you repair one, another one will spring up somewhere else. It is more important and cost effective to look at whole stretches of roads, which will probably include existing potholes anyway and will prevent more from appearing.’
Tyregiant.com managing director, Philip Hankinson, added: ‘With roads up and down the country seemingly getting worse by the year and neglect of these roads increasing at a similar rate, it was only a matter of time before the motorists of the UK bit back.’
National campaigner on road maintenance, Mr Pothole, who tweets under @mrpotholeuk, told Transport Network: 'It is time to get government to invest in things the public need now, proper funded long-term investment plan in our assets. Stop the rot!'
Surveyor Transport Network is the media partner of the Traffex exhibition - taking place at the NEC in Birmingham on the 21-23 April - which showcases the wide and varied selection of pothole solutions available.
Show director Bill Butler said: 'There is no doubt that potholes left unfilled are dangerous for both motorists and cyclists, but it is pleasing to hear that the government has set aside a record £6bn to spend on tackling potholes and improving local roads between 2015 and 2021.
'This year's Traffex at the NEC, Birmingham will provide councils and their contractors with the perfect opportunity to see the very latest pothole and re-instatement solutions in action from virtually every major supplier in the UK.'