Councils are not spending money on pothole protection for roads, despite the cost to fix them soaring, reveals new data.
The lifespan of roads can be increased by around 15 years if covered with a surface dressing of bitumen and aggregate, but councils are providing less funds now than they were 10 years ago, despite potholes being a continual source of misery for motorists in the UK.
New sales information shared with The Telegraph has shown that in 2022, enough materials were bought to cover just 13.9sq miles of roads, as opposed to 24.7sq miles in 2012.
The figures from the Road Emulsion Association (REA) and the Road and Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) are a good indication of why so many potholes are appearing on roads throughout the land.
Kevin Amos, chairman of the REA, told The Telegraph: “The decline in surface dressing over the past decade has coincided with the number and cost of potholes rising significantly.”
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Councils have had to fork out more than £1 billion over the past 10 years filling potholes, a figure that could have been drastically reduced if they had spent money on protecting the roads in the first place.
Amos added: “If the industry can reverse this decline in surface treatments such as surface dressing, then we can stop potholes forming in the first place and keep roads in better condition for longer.”
Hertfordshire County Council have just secured £4million of funding to repair up to an additional 20,000 potholes on their roads, although some of that cash will also be spent on protection.
Also, Hampshire County Council have been told by Lymington residents to stop “penny pinching” and fix the town’s pothole-riddled streets, although the council have said they will be looking to finance the repair of 80,000 holes in the county over the summer.
The REA and RSTA have now started a campaign to persuade more councils to opt for surface dressing to prevent costly repairs of potholes.
REA chairman Paul Goosey said the reduction in surface dressing was thanks to huge cuts to core funding for councils. He said: “This means some councils are only able to treat potholes and not do the vital proactive work needed to stop them forming in the first place.”
The increase in potholes across the country also appears to be having a big impact on drivers and their cars.
The AA reported that it responded to 52,000 pothole-related call-outs in April – up by a third compared with the same period last year.