Potholes backlog cut by a third

A pothole.
A pothole.

A backlog of 6,600 potholes has been slashed by almost one-third over the past month, highways chiefs at Northumberland County Council have revealed.

David Laux, the authority’s newly-appointed head of technical services, made the announcement at the north area committee meeting in Berwick on Monday night.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work over the last few weeks and we’re now at around 4,500 potholes so we’re on the right track,” he told councillors.

In January, the council came in for criticism after it emerged there were 6,600 potholes – just six months after it had claimed to have cleared the backlog.

Last spring, the backlog had been as high as 17,000, but the council embarked on a major improvement programme which helped it top the poll in the ‘most improved county council’ category in the Highways and Transportation public satisfaction survey 2014.

Mr Laux explained the challenges tackling the issue, not least the financial constraints, the vagaries of the British weather and Northumberland’s geography. “Over recent years, severe winter weather and unusually wet weather have caused significant damage to Northumberland’s highway network,” he said.

“We have a very large network to maintain in Northumberland, over 5,000km, and it’s quite difficult given the wide geographical area. A lot of the roads weren’t built for the traffic they now carry. We have some very high terrain and we’re unique in having some very low terrain that gets covered by the tide twice a day.”

Inspections and scanner surveys had revealed that the long-term deterioration of roads had halted since 2012 which he put down to recent investment such as jetpatching machines and hotboxes for more effective and efficient use of tar.