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car passing a pothole

A number of county councils across England are making pothole repairs and road maintenance a top priority, according to research carried out by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the IAM has found councils are following government-stated best practice and increasingly investing more money into capital projects (i.e. road rebuilding) rather than spending funds on short-term temporary repairs.

In early 2015 the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) confirmed a backlog of repairs topped £12 billion, while an IAM survey found that 64% of participants cited general road maintenance as one of their biggest concerns.

The FOI request asked county councils how much they spent on fixing road surface defects such as potholes and how much they spent on capital projects to resurface roads between 2013 and 2015.

While the IAM’s findings reveal many councils are spending less on filling potholes, 17 out of 23 of them are in fact spending more overall on resurfacing worn-out roads.

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “We are pleased that our calls for greater investment in local roads appear to be having some effect.

“We hope this trend continues. With council tax increases this April, we very much hope councils will use some of the extra money in continued investment in their own vital local roads, the condition of which has a direct impact on road safety.

“The IAM welcomed the government’s pothole fund as a solution for short-term problems, but our figures show that the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme is really starting to deliver long-term benefits by encouraging a shift to capital spend and sharing of knowledge and resources.

The top five county councils to invest the most money into road repairs and resurfacing between 2014/15 include:

  1. Surrey – £44 million
  2. North Yorkshire – £43.9 million
  3. Cumbria – £33.5 million
  4. Devon – £32 million
  5. Lincolnshire – £30.2 million

In percentage terms, the following councils have increased their capital spending on resurfacing roads the most:

  1. Oxfordshire – 139% (from £4.6 million to £11 million)
  2. Cambridgeshire – 85%(from £10.5 million to £19.4 million)
  3. Norfolk – 45% (from £19 million to £27.6 million)
  4. Leicestershire – 43% (from £7.5 million to £10.7 million)
  5. West Sussex 38% (from £19.5 million to £27 million)

County councils that have invested the most money into temporary pothole repairs between 2014/15 include:

  1. Kent – £7.7 million
  2. Devon – £5.98 million
  3. Gloucestershire – £5.93 million
  4. Cumbria – £5.4 million
  5. Surrey – £4.88 million

The top five councils increasing spending for temporary pothole repairs in percentage terms compared to the previous year are:

  1. West Sussex – 57% (from £1.4 million to £2.2 million)
  2. Nottinghamshire – 28% (from £1.5 million to £1.92 million)
  3. Norfolk – 23% (from £2.6 million to £3.2 million)
  4. Devon – 21% (from £4.9 million to £5.9 million)
  5. Dorset – 15% (from £2.6 million to £3.2 million)

In tandem with the increase in spending on resurfacing roads, the IAM has discovered eight out of 21 councils are spending less on filling potholes.