‘Greater commitment’ needed to improve road network

30th August 2013

The UK's road network is ageing and showing significant signs of wear and tear all over the country, with local authorities spending vast sums of money to repair areas that have been severely affected by the recent run of harsh winters.

Despite their hard work, motorists are still finding it necessary to file claims with councils for damage to their vehicles caused by the poor road conditions.

East Sussex is a particular hotspot for pothole damage, with the hazards set to cost the taxpayer more than £1 million as the bill for unresolved compensation claims against the council continues to increase.

The council currently has 909 open cases regarding incidents allegedly caused by poorly maintained roads.

Road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has called on councils to do more to repair the UK's road and commit to a long-term funding plan to make progress with the long-standing pothole crisis that has been ongoing for some time.

In a bid to understand the road situation in the UK, the charity recently surveyed local highway authorities to chart the progress made on implementing the recommendations of the Pothole Review, a year on from its publication.

The results indicate there have been significant changes in the way local authorities deal with road repairs, with transparency and openness a key difference a year on from the review.

Almost half (47 per cent) of councils surveyed said they had published a report providing details of repair policies and 85 per cent have created guidelines to define what constitutes a pothole requiring immediate repair.

Over three-quarters (77 per cent) now publish clear information on response times for repairs and 57 per cent have adopted innovative communication channels to get their messages across the the public and allow potholes to be reported quickly.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "It’s probably too early to say that the Pothole Review has been a total success, but the early indications are mostly positive. Communication with drivers and riders has improved and permanent repairs are now being used in place of constant patching.

"The building blocks are in place but the fact that complaints still seem to be rising means they have a real challenge on their hands. At least in future that challenge and their response will be quantified and public and we will be watching for signs of real progress on the street."

Despite the positivity, the IAM has said there is a lack of long-term budget planning when it comes to resolving issues with the UK's roads. Mr Best noted that people are now aware of what constitutes a pothole, but without constant funds available to repair them, the problem will continue and worsen.