Potholes: council defends slower-than-average repair policy

A typical pothole found on the roads of Lincolnshire.
A typical pothole found on the roads of Lincolnshire.

Cash-strapped Lincolnshire County Council has defended its policy after statistics showed it took longer to repair dangerous potholes than other local authorities across the country.

The figures, obtained by the RAC Foundation, revealed that the council aimed to complete a repair within one day of being alerted.

This compared to the most common response time of two hours, with the fastest councils in the UK acting within minutes.

However, Coun Richard Davies, executive member for highways, insisted Lincolnshire was doing the best it could under difficult ciorcumstances.

He said: “Ideally, we’d repair every pothole as soon as we are aware of it. However, with 5,500 miles of road to maintain and very limited funding, that’s simply not realistic.

“So, we prioritise potholes based on the potential risk they pose. Although we allow ourselves 24 hours for the most serious defects, last year more than 90 per cent of them were dealt with inside two hours.

“We realise people would like us to do more. But there are other vital services we also need to pay for, such as supporting more than 33,000 adults with care and support needs, and that does mean making difficult decisions.

“Of course, what’s really needed is fairer funding for Lincolnshire, which is something we continue to push for.

“If councils here received the national average, we’d benefit from extra £116 million every year, some of which could be invested in our roads, making potholes less likely to form in the first place. That would make a massive difference.”

It is estimated by the Local Government Association that councils in the UK are fixing a pothole every 21 seconds.

Hitting a pothole, or even swerving to avoid one, can ruin a car’s suspension, steering or tyres, according to the AA. In extreme cases, they can cause serious accidents.

In 2018, the AA estimated that potholes cost drivers and insurance companies an eye-watering £12 million. It said: “The pothole epidemic has become nothing short of a national disgrace.”

Lincolnshire County Council only investigates potholes that are at least four centimetres deep. It uses a risk-based approach to repair, taking into account its size and the potential impact on road users and volume of traffic.