Recent data reveals only 68.6% of reported potholes in Surrey were repaired – compared to 98% in 2011
The percentage of potholes on Surrey’s roads being repaired has fallen significantly in the last three years, new figures reveal – writes Georgina Townshend.
Data released under the Freedom of Information Act shows that in 2011, out of 24,471 potholes reported, 98%, or 24,310, were fixed.
Three years later, although a smaller number of 22,153 potholes were reported, only 68.6%, or 15,078 of these were repaired.
Fiona White, Surrey county councillor for Guildford West, said: “Potholes are dangerous and we should take them seriously. They cause damage to vehicles, which is expensive to repair, and they cause cyclists to swerve into the path of other road users to avoid them.
“If we really think Surrey is key in the UK’s economy, we should have a much better standard of roads. Going backwards in maintenance, rather than improving, is absolutely appalling.
“Surrey never seems to quite get to grips with maintenance or monitoring those delivering the contracts.
“If there has been a fall back in the number being repaired, then Surrey County Council ought to have been on top of that and saying that this is not acceptable.”
The county is looking to tackle road maintenance head-on with its much-vaunted £100 million investment programme, Operation Horizon.
The scheme, to be delivered over a five-year period from 2013 to 2018, has five key objectives of replacing a minimum of 500km, 10%, of the council’s road network, reducing the number of potholes and safety defects, improving the council’s national score for road condition, improving the appearance and ride quality of the network and supporting local economy through reduced road disruption and closures.
Tony Webber, who was seriously injured when he fell off his bicycle after hitting a pothole on Stoughton Road in April this year, said he was surprised the road had still not been properly repaired.
He said: “When you see that they have stripped and repaired Stoke Road and the A3 slip road, and not the road I had my accident on, I think they need to sort out their priorities.
“They are not busy roads. They are not being consistent with repairs.”
Chris Peck, from CTC, the national cycling charity, said it was vital for Surrey County Council to keep on top of the pothole problem, especially to keep cyclists safe.
He said: “Earlier data from Surrey shows that it has a high ratio of one person crashes, and this could be down to potholes.
“There is a widespread feeling that Surrey’s roads are in a bad state and it has a bad reputation in comparison with other parts of the country.
“However, spending more resources on resurfacing roads rather than filling in potholes can be a better use of money.
“Roads should be resurfaced instead, if possible.
“It is clearly worrying if they are not fixing dangerous hazards.
“They are trying to do things in a better way, but now they are a long way behind it could be very difficult to catch up.”
Potholes are a major factor in causing car axle and suspension failures, which counts for one third of mechanical issues on UK roads and costs British motorists an estimated £2.8bn every year.
Road maintenance in England and Wales is still being underfunded by around 55%, or £1bn each year.
Local authorities currently pay out more than £30m in compensation claims due to poor roads.