11 year pothole backlog in UK

Compensation payouts equal to pothole filling costs

A very big pothole

It would take more than 11 years, at the current rate, to fill in all existing potholes in England and Wales, the BBC reports. Local authorities – who are responsible for the majority of roads other than trunk routes and motorways – say they simply don’t have enough cash to sort the situation out. The estimated number of potholes runs into hundreds of thousands.


The Cyclists Touring Club’s pothole reporting site, www.fillthathole.org.uk, launched just over a year ago, has logged almost 10,000 hazards (nearly 30 every single day) showing just how important people think the problem is.

CTC campaign spokesman, Richard George, says they have no way of confirming the actual number of holes filled, though he believes many if not most are fixed, but this is not reported back to them. The crux of the problem, say the CTC, is that local councils simply don’t get sufficient funds from central government to deal properly with the problem.

Pothole compensation claims, which run into hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, are paid out of the same pot of money as road repairs which creates another large hole – this time a financial one. An injection of cash now, say CTC, would be money well spent as it would reduce costs in the long run and, crucially, those expensive compensation claims.

Statistics provided by  the AA and the road builders’ association, Asphalt Industry Alliance, suggest local authorities are now paying out as much in pothole compensation claims as they are on filling them in. David Sparks of the Local Government Association said it estimated it would need another £200m a year to reach the target the government has set for filling in potholes by 2010.  Utility companies also often come in for particular criticism for leaving the roads in a very poor state after they have finished their work – they reinstate the roads to the required standards.

The government riposte on the subject is that money spent on repairing roads over the last ten years has trebled and that councils should be able to manage this money so that they tackle problems before they appear with an appropriate resurfacing programme.


Note: The CTC also runs a sister site, www.clearthattrail.org.uk, where off-roaders can report everything from locked gates to fallen trees in a similar fashion to the pothole site.