North East pothole repairs backlog will cost £820m, says new survey

Our reporter Kris Jepson has been in Darlington, speaking to people in the town who have had to repair their cars due to pot holes.

A new survey has suggested it will cost £821.1 million to tackle the backlog of carriageway road repairs in the North East and bring the network up to standard, to enable it to be maintained efficiently and in a cost effective way going forward.

The ALARM (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance) survey, published 19 March 2024, said on 33 per cent of local roads in the region are in a "good structural condition", while the remaining 6,640 miles of road (67 per cent) will most likely need rebuilding in the next 15 years if they continue to deteriorate without appropriate maintenance measures.

David Giles from The Asphalt Industry Alliance, the group who conducted the survey, told ITV News Tyne Tees: "The life that’s left it two thirds of the roads is 15 years and yes, you’d either have to reconstruct the roads or, at the very least, take off a layer and resurface the roads.

"Local authorities haven’t been given the money they need to keep the roads in the condition that we all need as a society."

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, visited Darlington in March 2023 and declared new spending to help repair potholes in the country.

Rishi Sunak visits pothole in Darlington, March 2023 Credit: ITV News

The survey suggested £15.2 million has been spent filling in 211,008 potholes over the last 12 months in the North East, as a result, but that carriageway maintenance budgets are 14 per cent lower in the region, compared to the average for England (excluding London) at £16.0 million per authority (England: £18.7 million).

Drivers in Darlington were united in their frustrations with potholes in the area when approached by ITV News.

One driver said: "Well, if we’re going to be paying for something, they should be fixed properly at least.

"I don’t know whether it’s the quality of what they’re fixing it with, if it’s a cheap solution or something, but something needs to be done about it, you know. I cant afford to keep fixing my car. I’ve literally just had to get two new tyres. Popped wheel."

Another said: "Potholes everywhere. All up that road up there. Everywhere I go. It’s a joke."

One woman visiting the area, said: "You just go over them and some of them are really, really deep and, oh it’s just awful. Absolutely horrendous. They seem to be fixed and no sooner have they been fixed, then they appear again, it’s just extremely annoying, yes."

The government said they will use funding from scrapped HS2 leg to improve road conditions. Credit: ITV News

Another Darlington based woman added: "Very expensive to fix I guess, when you don’t spot them and, well, I should know. I’ve had to get my breaks and stuff fixed before, so yeh, very annoying."

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "We’re taking decisive action to resurface roads and fix potholes by investing an extra £8.3 billion of reallocated HS2 funding, the biggest ever funding increase for local road improvements and enough to resurface over 5,000 miles of roads across the country.

"In addition, we have made £150 million available for local authorities right now meaning funding for most authorities has increased by almost a third compared to last year, with a further £150 million to follow in the coming financial year."

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