The AA’s Streetwatch initiative, where volunteers hit the roads in Britain to monitor potholes, has found that the problem is getting worse, and is only going to go downhill as we approach the winter snap.
One thousand of the AA’s streetwatchers were dispatched to see if the roads have improved since the repairs were made this year. But the survey has actually shown that the roads are getting worse, and local councils are clearly struggling to keep on top of the problem.
In last year’s survey, each streetwatcher found on average 12.9 potholes on their watch, while this year the average reached 14.9. The North East of England and Scotland seem to be the hardest hit, with approximately 20 potholes found in each neighbourhood.
The AA’s president, Edmund King comments on the survey, “The AA Streetwatch volunteers have once again shown that the UK has a pothole plague which has not gone away despite extra repairs this year. Highways authorities need to get to grips with the pothole problem, as compensation claims will soar when cold weather strikes and roads start breaking up again placing greater burdens on already strained budgets”.
King goes on to say that drivers in the UK shouldn’t have to spend the winter months avoiding potholes, or forking out to pay for repairs to their cars as a result of poorly maintained roads. He also warns of the severity of potholes on bikers, when potholes can prove to be fatal.
Edmund King from the AA concludes, “Although we are sympathetic with the plight that councils find themselves in austere times, the fact remains that we are seeing the legacy of a ‘Cinderella’ approach to road maintenance funding over many years”.
The AA findings follow the study released by the RAC showing that four out of five councils had cut their spending on road maintenance. Also reports have suggested that Stockport councils issued a directive for motorists to measure potholes and report them so they can be fixed.
Junior transport minister, Norman Baker has spoken out in defence of the Government, “Local roads are managed by local highway authorities and they are best placed to use their local knowledge and experience to decide how to prioritise expenditure across all their services including their local roads. Despite the current severe fiscal restraints we are providing £3 billion to councils for road maintenance over the next four years and an additional £6 million for longer term strategies”.
Baker goes on to say, “This Government is still providing more funding in cash terms on road maintenance than in the previous four years. It follows that any cuts that have been made lie fairly and squarely with the local authorities concerned. On top of this we have exceptionally provided an extra windfall of £200 million to repair potholes on the local road network following the severe winter weather at the end of last year”.
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