William Eichler 16 July 2018

Pothole-related breakdowns hit ‘three-year high’

Local authority leaders have called for more funding for local road maintenance as second quarter pothole-related breakdowns hit a three-year high.

The second three months of this year has seen more breakdowns related to potholes than in any other second quarter since 2015, according to the RAC.

Between April and June, the car breakdown service received a total of 4,091 call-outs for damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs or distorted wheels — faults associated with poor quality road surfaces.

While this represents a reduction on the first three months of the year (5,540 breakdowns), this fall was not as great as it was between the same periods in 2017.

‘Councils have been working hard to fix potholes and general road surface degradation, but despite further emergency funding from central government, their budgets are even more stretched than in previous years,’ said RAC chief engineer David Bizley.

‘Our figures demonstrate they are not winning the battle and as a result the safety of too many drivers, cyclists and motorcyclists is being put at risk.

‘The overall quality of our roads should be getting better, not worse. Any pothole could at best cause expensive damage to a vehicle, motorbike or bicycle and at worst lead to a fatal accident, with motorcyclists and cyclists at particular risk.

‘Every pothole capable of causing an accident or damage needs to be fixed quickly so it no longer represents a danger to road users.’

Responding to the RAC’s figures, Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) transport spokesman, said that councils were ‘fixing a pothole every 21 seconds.’

However, he said they needed more central Government investment to ensure local roads are well maintained.

‘Only long-term, consistent and fairer Government investment in local road maintenance can allow councils to embark on the widespread improvement of our roads that is desperately needed,’ he said.

‘The Government is spending 52 times more on maintaining our national roads than our local roads when very few journeys begin and end on a motorway or trunk road.

‘This will only serve to speed vehicles up between increased delays and congestion on local roads.’

Cllr Tett called on Whitehall to reinvest 2 pence per litre of existing fuel duty into local road maintenance.

This, he said, would ‘generate £1bn a year for councils to spend on improving roads and filling potholes and begin addressing the £9bn roads repair backlog.’

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