Coventry City Council slowest in UK to fill potholes

New research from the RAC Foundation has found that Coventry City Council has the longest response time in Britain for filling in serious potholes.

The council, which said it had a ‘good track record on road repairs’, was found to aim to make road repairs within five working days but would visit potholes which pose a ‘danger’ within two hours. In comparison, Cumbria, Flintshire and South Lanarkshire were highlighted in the research as aiming to act ‘immediately’ to repair those potholes that pose the greatest risk to the state of the road and the safety of drivers and riders.

Harrow Council sets a target repair time of half an hour, with a further 16 councils aiming to patch things up within an hour, and five within 90 minutes. The most common response time to the most urgent problems is two hours, with 79 councils looking to patch up the road within this period.

The figures are based on Freedom of Information (FOI) data provided by about 190 of the 207 local highway authorities in Britain. The RAC states that response times are often influenced by how many miles of road a council has to manage and the size of the council area.

The motoring organisation found local highway authorities adopted a ‘risk-based approach’ to fixing road defects with the volume of traffic and mix of road users taken into account when deciding how quickly to act. Intervention times will also depend on the physical size of the local authority area and also the length and makeup of the road network, with urban authorities tending to have smaller and more geographically confined networks than their rural counterparts.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “It is good to see that the vast majority of local highway authorities are adopting the best practice ‘risk-based’ approach recommended by the UK Roads Liaison Group, which is putting the risk to road users front and centre alongside the potential for a defect to develop into a bigger structural problem.

“The total number of potholes being filled in might still be limited by a shortage of funding, but this approach at least means those that are most dangerous are fixed first. It is understandable that large rural authorities set themselves longer response times, simply as a result of having to travel further to effect repairs, but motorists might still be surprised to see such a wide variation across the country. Those particularly vulnerable to potholes – cyclists and motorcyclists – might ask whether the speed of pothole investigation should be based solely on the risk to users.”

Martin Tett, Transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Keeping roads safe for all users is one of the most important jobs councils do and is reflected in the fact that local authorities are fixing a pothole every 21 seconds, with priority given to repairing potholes that pose the greatest risk based on their size and location, as recognised in this report. The government is spending 52 times per mile more on maintaining our national roads – which make up just three per cent of all roads – than on local roads, which are controlled by councils and make up 97 per cent of England’s road network.

“While the extra one-off £420 million funding announced in the Budget will help, only long-term, consistent and fairer government investment in local road maintenance can allow councils to address the £9.3 billion roads repair backlog which would give all road users better roads that are safer and more resilient to constant use.”

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