South east pothole bill could be £2.6bn according to new survey

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A one-off repair job would cost the south east £2.6bn according to the Asphalt Industry Alliance, which equates to £143.8m per council

BY JAMES CHAPPLE , ROB GRANT

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It will cost £2.6bn to repair the south east’s potholed roads, a new survey has claimed.

Filling in potholes and completing all other outstanding repair work in one enormous job would cost authorities across the south-east £143.8m each.

The figures come from the latest ALARM survey by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), released on Wednesday.

Hundreds of claims have been lodged in Surrey for damage caused by potholes, amounting to some £375,000 since 2013.

Fixing carriageways in the region would cost each council about £5.3m more than they currently spend per year and take 14 years to clear the backlog, according to AIA estimates.

On average, a road in the south-east is resurfaced every 72 years. This is below the overall figure for England, excluding London, of 65 years.

Compensation claims related to the road network cost south-east councils £3.8m last year. A total of 329,230 potholes were filled in and around the region during 2015.

AIA chairman Alan Mackenzie said: “The network is ageing and the cumulative effect of decades of underfunding is continuing to take its toll.

“Add in the impacts of flooding and increased traffic and you start to appreciate the scale of the problem our local authorities are facing.

“However, our roads are deteriorating at a faster rate than they can be repaired and more significant problems for the future are building unseen below the surface.

“It is clear that there is still not enough money available to tackle the backlog of repairs needed to get our road network back into anything approaching a reasonable condition.”

Highways authority Surrey County Council (SCC) has paid out nearly £400,000 for pothole claims since the start of 2013.

The figure was revealed by Councillor John Furey, SCC’s cabinet member for highways, transport and flooding, during a meeting last month in response to a question raised by Labour councillor Robert Evans.

Said Cllr Furey: “We should spent more on our roads. Like the opposition, I want more as well, everybody wants more. We have to prioritise these things.”

He added the council’s pothole repair scheme, Operation Horizon, had already made an “extreme” difference to the state of the county’s roads.

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