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The pothole problem

“I heard the news today, oh boy. Four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire” sang the Beatles in 1967, and holes in the road are still a major problem, not only in Lancashire but also across the whole of the UK.
So how come some roads built by the Romans are still here, uncovered in a perfectly preserved state and yet roads built two thousand years later using the most modern technology are crumbling around us?

What causes potholes

Potholes are the result of the great British weather. Rainwater gets into the fabric of the road, then expands when it freezes, literally forcing the road surface apart. And it’s not just the cold and wet that causes problems; according to the experts, the last couple of harsh winters, followed by the long dry summer, have made the pothole problem much worse.

How big is the pothole problem?

The figures for potholes in the UK make eye-watering reading. For example:

  • If you put all the potholes together, it is estimated that they would cover almost 300 square miles.
  • There is a pothole for every mile of road in Britain.
  • Lincolnshire has no less than 1,412 potholes (at the last count).
  • Kings Lane in Leeds has over 100 potholes on its own.
  • Studies show that potholes cost the UK economy over £4bn every year.
  • The cost of potholes

    Experts reckon that one in ten motorists have experienced damage to their car as a result of potholes. In an AA survey, the figure was even worse, with as many as one in three suffering damage over the past two years.

    The average cost of a repair for pothole damage is £140. For some the cost is even higher, with regular reports of cyclists being injured, or even killed, as a result of accidents involving potholes – either hitting them or swerving to avoid them.

    All of this means that claims to insurance companies and councils for pothole damage are up by almost 80%, with local councils shelling out over £2.5million to settle over 32,000 in the last year alone. Of course, that money has to come from somewhere and it is our council tax bills and car insurance premiums that are rising as a result.

    What is being done about potholes?

    Fixing potholes is a bit like painting the Forth Bridge, because it is a never ending job. Just keeping up with the rate of potholes on our roads is appearing to be hard enough, never mind getting ahead of the game. However, the government is taking action to help. They recently injected £215m of extra funds to help councils deal with the pothole problem right now, on top of the £3.4bn pledged over the next 2 years. They have also announced a further £6bn over the next parliament, enough to fill 19 million potholes in our roads every year.

    To find potholes in your area, or to see how to make a claim through the relevant local authority if your car has been damaged, visit You can sign the ePetition online to call for greater investment.

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