Thousands of reports of pot hole damage to “aren’t many” says council chief

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Pot Holes on road
Pot holes on local roads

New data shows the skyrocketing number of pothole reports and claims being made in Hampshire – but a leading councillor insists it “aren’t many.”

Winter weather has generated a devastating impact and “unprecedented levels” of enquiries, pothole reports, other defects and damage claims, accelerating the highway network’s deterioration, a Hampshire County Council report said.

It has been released to show the progress of the “Stronger Roads Today” campaign, which aims to improve the condition of roads in Hampshire by dealing with issues such as potholes.

The document shows that by the end of July 2023, the number of “pothole-related enquiries”, including reports and damage claims, had ballooned by 45 per cent compared to the whole of 2018, the worst year previously recorded.

By the end of July 2023, 28,080 claims were made to the council.

Figures displayed that in January 2023, the council received the highest number of enquiries, totalling 7,294, compared with 1,617 reported in January 2022.

April and March 2023 were also months with the highest number of reports made, with 5,976 and 5,898, respectively, compared with 932 in April 2022 and 2,048 in March 2022.

Despite the 45 per cent increase, executive lead member for universal services councillor Nick Adams-King said at the Universal Services Select Committee today that the rise doesn’t cost the council “massive amounts of money” and “aren’t that many”.

He said: “Although the numbers are enormous, we still don’t talk about a massive amount of money out from the budget. Each claim itself tends to be for a relatively small amount. So, it is not a matter of spending tens of millions of billions on claims. Claims aren’t many.”

In July 2023, the county council invested a total of £22.5 million over three years to repair potholes and other carriageway defects across the local authority, what is planned in the medium term ahead of the coming winter and what is designed for the future years of the additional funding allocation.

The 2023 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) report stated that the backlog in carriageway maintenance for Hampshire is estimated at around £500 million. It was previously reported that the backlog was £377m; however, inflation increased the figure.

The Government has provided an additional £8.3 billion to tackle the road maintenance backlog in England. This funding announcement has confirmed the allocation levels for Hampshire for the years 2023/24 and 2024/25, as well as the minimum estimated additional funding allocations between 2023/24 and 2033/34.

Hampshire County Council will receive an extra £132m between 2023/24 and 2033/34. The local highway authorities will receive £23.4m this financial year, followed by a further £23.4m for 2024/2025, with the rest of the funding allocated to 2034.

The funding is expected to increase over time.

However, with the actual £500 million backlog in the local authority road net, the funding “will not yield a quick fix to an already weakened network”, the report said.

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