It is no secret that the UK has a severe pothole problem. Longer and wetter seasons over recent years have significantly weakened the country’s road network. This, together with an increase in road traffic and prolonged under-investment, has resulted in a sharp rise in potholes. However, with shrinking budgets and increasing pressure from road users, many councils are struggling to solve the problem.
The Cost Issue
According to the Local Government Association, it would cost £12 billion, and take until 2030, for local councils to fix the four million potholes across the UK and clear the current repair backlog. However, because the average highway maintenance budget has fallen per local authority by roughly 16% in the past year, councils are currently £730m short of what is needed to keep the road network in a reasonable order.
In a bid to address this, the government introduced a £250 million Pothole Action Fund in the Autumn Budget last year. Local councils will receive £50 million each year for the next five years to spend on road repairs. However, it is estimated that this funding will only go towards repairing one million out of the four million potholes across the UK.
The Driver Issue
Councils are also continuing to face an increasing pressure from drivers to fix the road network. According to the AA, 6.3 million drivers suffered damage to their cars from potholes last year, resulting in them paying £684 million in repairs. Whilst many try to claim compensation from the relevant council, most have their claims rejected under the guise that the council has plans in place to repair the potholes within a reasonable time period.
Even though they are fighting a seemingly losing battle, councils are working hard to fix the problem. Cllr Peter Box, Transport spokesman at the Local Government Association said: “Councils fixed a pothole every 15 seconds again last year, despite significant budget reductions leaving them with less to spend on fixing crumbling roads.”
Thinking outside the box
In light of the current landscape, we are now seeing more and more community groups taking action into their own hands in a bid to keep their local roads free from potholes. A fantastic example of this comes from Instarmac, who produce Ultracrete, a highly innovative cold lay asphalt.
They have helped to establish a Community Road Warden Scheme in Devon that allows members of the public to carry out highway repairs on minor roads. Sixty volunteers have undergone free training from Instarmac’s Technical Field Support Manager, Nick Holmes, to teach the correct preparation and application methods to guarantee a safe and lasting repair using Ultracrete, until a full resurfacing can take place.
The cold lay asphalt is a permanent patching product for high performance planned and reactive repairs. It is HAPAS approved and ensures a quality, durable repair, eliminating return visits, traffic management and lane rental charges. We have been supplying this innovative product to both contractors and individual workmen for XXX years, and in light of road users’ plight we continue to run a prolonged promotion, in order to encourage more repairs to our road network.
Whilst local authorities continue to struggle to provide enough funding, it is incredibly important for suppliers like Keyline to make the most innovative products as accessible and cost effective as possible. Only this will ensure we can embark on the road to success.