May 022007

potholed roadDespite sinking billions into the public purse, British motorists are being subjected to a postcode lottery when it comes to the repair of potholes.

The monitoring of local roads and the time it takes to get them repaired depends on where you live, according to an investigation by new independent campaign website,

“There are two issues here,” explains website spokesperson Amanda Allen. “Not only could a dangerous and damaging pothole in your road go unreported for weeks or months because of random methods of inspection but, once it’s reported, the criteria used to assess whether it is dangerous enough to repair differs from council to council.”

With an estimated 1 in 5 suspension failures linked back to poor road surfaces*, questioned a selection of councils across the UK about their approach to dealing with potholes in their areas, and found a muddled and inconsistent strategy for targeting defects.

In most areas, any road defect deeper than 20mm can be safely classified as a pothole. However, Lincolnshire and Devonshire County Councils take a somewhat more relaxed approach, with defects needing to reach 50mm and 40mm deep respectively before they are given immediate attention.

Some councils, such as Gwynedd, Wales, prioritise pothole repairs based on the size of the defect while others, such as Portsmouth City Council, rely on trained inspectors to consider size, position in the road, and how much traffic uses the road before making a judgement and prioritising accordingly.

There were also wildly differing methods of monitoring the occurrence of potholes across the nation. Although councils such as Birmingham set an example, with patrols undertaking a monthly inspection of all classified roads, councils are only obliged to check roads once per year.

“It is more random than regular,” says Allen. “This means that a pothole can remain undetected for months if not reported by road users. There is a system in place to report faults, but hardly anyone actually knows that system exists, or how to use it.” is a new online resource to inform UK drivers of their rights when it comes to potholes, and provides a useful database of council contacts, with advice about how to make a claim if cars are damaged due to road defects.