Highways investment pays off in Rotherham as pothole problem shrinks by a third

Smooth operators: Rotherham Council have invested in better roads
Smooth operators: Rotherham Council have invested in better roads

Numbers of pot holes needing repairs on Rotherham roads were down by more than a third last year compared to figures from four years previously – and today the authority is among the best in the country at defending itself from legal claims resulting from damaged highways.

Rotherham Council is in the third year of an investment programme which has given its highways officials cash on top of that needed for day-to-day maintenance to conduct longer-term improvements to the town’s road network.

This year’s budget of £9.5m allows £7m for routine work, with the rest available to pay for improvements to the road network, a move which is credited with helping to reduce numbers of holes needing repairs.

In the 2014 financial year, numbers were still rising annually and reached 34,000, but last year figures were down to to 22,000.

Part of that may be attributed to preventative maintenance, using ‘one fill’ technology which is used in areas were the road surface has deteriorated but would not qualify for standard pot-hole repair.

That has helped to leave the authority in a strong position for fending off claims from motorists and councillors were told by highways official Colin Knight the authority followed a robust procedure on considering claims.

“We have seen a downward trend in numbers of claims received,” he said, “We have been able to maintain a high level of repudiation. Insurers have said our repudiation rates are among the best performing in the country, which is reassuring to hear.”

The department also receives almost twice as many messages of praise from the public as it does complaints.

Most of the road repair work is done by an in-house team of around 50 staff, supported by some outside workers for specialist jobs.