Council slow to respond to “dangerous potholes”

North Tyneside Council take four hours to respond to "dangerous potholes" new figures show.
North Tyneside Council take four hours to respond to "dangerous potholes" new figures show.

North Tyneside Council aims to repair dangerous potholes within four hours of being alerted, data obtained by the RAC Foundation shows.

But that is slower than the most common response time of two hours, with the fastest councils in the UK acting within minutes.

Hitting a pothole, or even swerving to avoid one, can ruin a car’s suspension, steering or tyres, according to the AA.

In extreme cases they can cause serious accidents.

In 2018, the AA estimated potholes cost drivers and insurance companies an eye-watering £12 million.

It said: “The pothole epidemic has become nothing short of a national disgrace.”

A Freedom of Information request by the RAC found that North Tyneside Council determines how dangerous a pothole is by measuring its size and depth.

The local authority will only investigate potholes that are at least 4cm deep and 30cm wide.

That applies regardless of whether the pothole is on a quiet lane or a major route.

The RAC Foundation recommends a different approach, assessing the impact of a pothole on road users over size.

Director Steve Gooding said: “The total number of potholes being filled in might still be limited by a shortage of funding, but this approach at least means those that are most dangerous are fixed first.

“Those particularly vulnerable to potholes – cyclists and motorcyclists – might ask whether the speed of pothole investigation should be based solely on the risk to users.”

For less dangerous potholes that are earmarked for specific repairs in North Tyneside, patching up could take two weeks or more.

Repairs for the least troublesome defects will be included in planned roadworks.

The Local Government Association called for more funding for council-controlled local roads.

Transport spokesman Councillor Martin Tett said: “Keeping roads safe for all users is one of the most important jobs councils do.

“That’s reflected in the fact that local authorities are fixing a pothole every 21 seconds.”

He added that councils need “consistent and fairer government investment in local road maintenance”.

But Phil Scott, Head of Environment, Housing and Leisure at North Tyneside Council, said: “The statements made by the RAC do not represent an accurate picture of how we deal with potholes in North Tyneside.

“Every road defect reported by the public is investigated for potential repair. Potholes measuring 40mm or deeper are automatically repaired in line with our policy but often smaller scale defects will be attended to as well.

“A risk based inspection regime is used to assess what needs to be done to make sure we get the best use of resources.

“For example, smaller potholes are likely to be repaired if they are near kerb lines as they may pose a risk to cyclists.

“We repair thousands of potholes each year and almost always deal with them quicker than our target response times. Defects that present an immediate risk of harm to the public are usually fixed within a two hour period.”