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Pothole numbers in England and Wales reach eight-year high

By Jack Evans | March 19, 2024

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The number of potholes being repaired in England and Wales has reached an eight-year high, according to a new report.

Pothole numbers in England and Wales reach eight-year high

The annual Asphalt Industry Alliance (ALA) survey found that local authorities fixed two million potholes last year, up more than 40 per cent on the 1.4 million potholes repaired the year prior. As it stands, local authorities are repairing one pothole every sixteen seconds.

It’s the highest annual total of pothole repairs since 2015/2016, too, during which 2.2 million potholes were filled in.

The AIA report said: “This indicates that local authorities, who have a statutory responsibility to keep local roads safe, don’t have the funds to do so in a cost-effective, proactive way, which would allow them to carry out the appropriate maintenance interventions at the right time.”

The AIA said that the structural condition of roads ‘continue to decline’ with less than half of local routes in England and Wales now classed as being in ‘good’ structural condition, down from 51 per cent last year.

It means that the remaining 53 per cent of roads - equivalent to more than 107,000 miles - now have less than 15 years’ structural life remaining. These roads will need to be replaced entirely, rather than repaired with surface maintenance.

The survey also found that average highway maintenance budgets increased by 2.3 per cent in the 2023/24 financial year compared with the previous 12 months. However, as a result of rising costs, these increases mean that local authorities had ‘effectively experienced a real-terms cut’.

In order to repair the backlog of road issues, a record £16.3 billion would be required. It represents a 16 per cent increase on the £14 billion required to fix all of the road network’s problems.

Rick Green, chair for the Asphalt Industry Alliance, said: “Local authorities, who have a statutory responsibility to keep local roads safe, just don’t have the funds to allow them to carry out the appropriate maintenance interventions, at the right time.

“In the meantime, the frequency of extreme weather events is increasing, accelerating the rate at which the network is travelling towards breaking point.”

Simon Williams, head of policy for the RAC, said: “The findings from this report send the clearest signal yet to the Government of the critical state of so many of the roads used by millions every day.

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