roads in Yorkshire are among some of the worst examples of the country’s “pothole epidemic”, according to newly released research.
Councils have paid out a total of £2.5m in compensation to motorists in the past financial year for pothole and other road damage to cars, according to the data gathered from councils by Britannia Rescue. There is now one pothole for every mile of road in Britain.
The firm rated King Lane in Leeds and the B6273 South Moor Road/Moor Lane in Barnsley as two of the worst roads for potholes in the UK. Leeds council confirmed King Lane has been the subject of 108 claims over a 10-year period.
The authority has paid out around £65,000 in compensation to drivers in the financial year 2012-13 for problems caused by the poor state of local roads. It receives 20,000 pothole reports every year – the equivalent of around 55 per day.
The council defended its record on keeping the city’s roads safe for pedestrians and motorists alike. A spokesman said: “Leeds City Council allocates millions of pounds each year towards the repair of potholes in the city as part of its highways maintenance budget.
“A range of preventative treatments and reactive repairs are undertaken daily by the council in tackling potholes, which includes prioritising work on those roads that have been identified due to their condition as a top priority.”
A further survey by Britannia Rescue suggested complaints of car damage as a result of poor road surfaces had shot up in the past 12 months.
Britannia said roads had been particularly badly affected because a harsh winter was followed by a dry summer.
It added that UK councils had received 32,600 compensation claims in 2012/13 for everything from potholes ruining wheel rims to damaging suspension – an increase of 79 per cent from 2011/12.
The firm described road maintenance in the UK as “severely under-funded with around £16 spent per driver on maintaining road surfaces and fixing potholes – less than 10 per cent of the annual road tax bill”.
It added: “Short-term fixes are often chosen over longer-term solutions, with close to a quarter of councils admitting they usually temporarily fix potholes rather than resurface the area. The average cost of repairing a pothole is around £50, meaning the amount paid out by councils in compensation could have been used to repair more than 50,000 potholes.”
Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association’s economy and transport board, said: “Decades of underfunding, severe winters and recent widespread flooding have left large swathes of our roads in disrepair with many councils struggling with a £10bn repair backlog and only able to patch up a deteriorating network.
“Despite our best efforts, the situation will only get worse as councils contend with deep central government funding cuts and spiralling compensation costs for pothole damage.
“Councils need increased and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our roads network desperately needs if we’re to see a long-term improvement. “
Britannia Rescue issued Freedom of Information requests to 434 UK councils. Of these, 146 responded with at least one piece of data.