Posted: 14.08.19 at 09:12 by Tim Lethaby
Over 5,000 complaints were made to Somerset County Council by the county's residents and businesses about potholes over the past 12 months, according to new Freedom of Information figures gathered by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
The FSB’s national report revealed that local authorities across the country receive a complaint to fix a pothole every 46 seconds and also showed that the South West had the fourth largest amount of complaints of any region in the country.
The figures show that Somerset County Council received 5,286 queries about potholes.
In all around 80,000 complaints about potholes were made across the South West during 2018/19 with Devon having by far the highest amount – 30,000.
In total, almost £1 billion has been spent fixing damaged roads and holes in 2018/19 with nearly £2 million paid out in compensation to claimants that had their vehicles damaged.
The figures revealed that just 24 per cent of claims for vehicle damage were successful across England, with the average pay out per claim equating to £257.
Potholes are regarded as a major blight on the nation’s roads by small business owners. SMEs rely heavily on the road network, with nine in 10 (89 per cent) small firms considering the road network to be important, for their staff, customers and trade deliveries.
As a result the FSB, Britain’s biggest business representation group, is calling for a number of measures to help improve road infrastructure across the country, including:
1. More funding for local authorities from central government to support planned regular maintenance programmes, and to help alleviate the pothole problem. Unless additional funding is provided, the road maintenance problem is likely to increase over time, meaning more will need to be spent on repairs and damage claims.
2. Better co-ordination is needed between utilities companies and local authorities when roads need to be dug up. The amount of time that utility companies are responsible for the road they have dug up should be extended from the current two to five years.
FSB also wants to see Government ensuring there is a simple system for both reporting potholes locally, as well as for submitting claims for damage to vehicles.
Local authorities should use innovative technology to monitor road condition to enable them to identify deteriorating roads, learning from trailblazer councils, according to the FSB.
Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: “Potholes are a major concern for the nation’s small businesses.
Our members rely heavily on the local road network, with their staff, customers and trade deliveries, dependent on fast and efficient road networks.
“Poorly looked-after roads peppered with holes and cracks not only hamper their ability to do business, but lead to damaged vehicles, which are often vital assets to small firms often working without large capital reserves.
“These figures show just how widespread the issue is and it’s clear that governments, both national and local, need to sit up and take notice.
"Measures like more funding for local authorities and improving the co-ordination between authorities and utility companies, will go some way in helping ease the burden of this ever-growing issue.”