Pothole reports in Northern Ireland increase by 28% in the space of a year

The mum of an 11-year-old who suffered cuts and bruises to her face and arms after her bicycle hit a pothole has called for road maintenance issues to be dealt with "properly" and "in a timely manner".

Ella Smith was on her way back from school, when she fell over her handlebars just yards from her home on Tuesday.

Her mum, Jude, was shocked when she saw her daughter at the front door "covered in blood".

It comes as the total number of reported potholes in Northern Ireland reached 16,874 in the last year - an increase of 28% from 2021.

According to the Department for Infrastructure's annual report, in 2021-22 the road maintenance budget has increased from £75m to £89m.

Jude Smith explained how Ella came to suffer to injuries.

"She had hit the pothole on her way home, come over her handlebars and landed on the right-hand-side of her face on the kerb. Her lips were all bloody and swollen.

"My first instinct was that she had smashed her teeth which, thankfully she hadn't.

"They're not big jobs to fix," she told UTV, "but if they're not fixed at a timely fashion or property then they lead to more problems further down the line".

Hitting a pothole can also caused financial damage for road users.

Mechanic Neil Purdy couldn't be more aware of the issue as there are currently four potholes outside the front of his garage.

"You see a lot of people having to slow down, and a lot of suspension problems coming in from potholes in general.

"I reported one of these before Christmas, a guy come out and marked it, nothing's been done and since then there has been three others appear."

For others working in the industry, call outs for repairs are on the rise.

Neil Owens, a mechanic at CTS, said he's worked on at least 16 cars that have needed pothole repairs within the last week.

"This is happening all the time, this is everyday we're getting cars in which have cracked wheels, bubbles in their tyres, their alignments knocked out and suspension damage," he said.

"The lack of maintenance to the roads, the weather's not going to help it. The water gets in underneath the tar and starts lifting it especially when it freezes, so the water gets in underneath it, freezes, expands and starts bringing the road up so it does."

Ahead of his MOT appointment on Saturday, Neville Patterson suffered two cracked alloys after he too hit a pothole.

"It's going to cost about £75 for each alloy, and about two days to fix" he told UTV. "Some parts of the roads are good, but other parts are really, really, really bad.

"It needs to be sorted pronto as it's getting out of hand.

"There's that many potholes, are you hitting this one to avoid that one, are you avoiding that one to hit this one, it's like a minefield so it is."

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