The ‘prevention is better than cure’ message comes in new advice given to local authorities across England on how to tackle the problem of potholes on their roads following the publication of a review commissioned by Local Transport Minister Norman Baker.
The ‘Pothole Review’ – part of the coalition Government’s £6 million Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme – looks at how best to fix potholes once they have formed but also how to prevent them from appearing in the first place. The recommendations for central Government, local highway authorities and the highways sector fall into three main themes:
- Prevention is better than cure – intervening at the right time will reduce the amount of potholes forming and prevent bigger problems later.
- Right first time – do it once and get it right, rather than face continuous bills.
- Clarity for the public – local highway authorities need to communicate to the public what is being done and how it is being done.
Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said: ‘We all know the misery that potholes can cause to highway users and local communities and the recent series of harsh winters has only served to intensify the situation.
‘We’ve given £3 billion to councils for road maintenance over the next four years but money can only go so far and the old adage rings true: prevention is indeed better than cure.
‘I would urge all those involved with highways maintenance, including councillors, chief executives, local highway practitioners, those in the utility sector and contractors to adopt the approaches set out in this report, not only to make real cost savings but also to provide a high quality service that both the road user and local residents deserve.’
The Review investigates the issue of potholes from an engineering perspective plus explores the wider issues around potholes, including public expectations, the impact of long term maintenance strategies, decision making arrangements, the processes of reporting, prioritising and repairing, guidance and wider operational arrangements within local highways authorities.
Responding to the report,InstituteofAdvanced Motorists’ chief executive and member of the pothole review committee Simon Best said: ‘With a new four-year budget, councils should be able to plan their maintenance to prevent potholes occurring rather than playing catch-up withBritain’s crumbling roads. Simple solutions such as more joint working, councils sharing resources and better managed utility road works will save money and make our roads safer.
‘But £3bn over four years is less than a quarter of what councils need to get the roads back into shape. £3bn equates to around £20 per driver a year, a small amount in comparison to the money spent on car taxes and duties.’