We must work together to improve condition of roads

It’s National Pothole Day today – but this is very much a local issue too.

The shocking state of many of our roads is something that affects us all.

And it’s getting worse.

That’s why the Gazette launched a campaign last week to improve the surfaces of our roads.

Whether you’re a driver, cyclist or pedestrian, potholes are a costly and dangerous menace as vehicles attempt to swerve to avoid a looming crater or bounce through them risking uncertain damage or causing an accident.

Many people have been left counting the personal cost of a close encounter with a pothole and felt the frustration of wondering why, when we pay so much in various taxes, the roads which are at the heart of all aspects of daily life are in such bad way.

Let us be clear, we do not blame our local authorities and councils for the dire state of some of our roads and the purpose of this campaign is not to unfairly criticise them or their highways teams.

In recent years, they have had their budgets severely pruned and difficult choices have had to be made.

The road network is core infrastructure for the economy, for residents and for the emergency services. It is vital it is improved.

The aims of this campaign are to:

• Raise awareness of the correct ways to reports pothole – the council will not be able to repair it if it does not know of its existence through the proper channels – log on to http://bit.ly/NCCpothole for more;

• Openly engage with you our readers in highlighting the worst potholes;

• Work with Northumberland County Council to help address them.

This collaborate work may well involve a approach to government for more funding.

During the course of the campaign, we will be looking at how our county councils currently work round the clock to maintain our roads, how complaints about potholes are handled and where legal responsibility lies for damage to a vehicle.

We will be speaking to the council about the pothole concerns that you raise and, working with our sister newspapers across England, will support them in any lobbying of central government for additional funding.

The depth of the pothole problem

Research from price comparison site Confused.com in October last year revealed the depth of the UK’s pothole problem.

Figures obtained from local authorities across the country showed that in the previous year (2016) a whopping 1,031,787 potholes were reported by drivers – the combined depth of which would be 40km.

In total, councils shelled out £3.1million in compensation to drivers for damage to their cars – with Wiltshire Council paying out the most with more than £500,000 in total going to victims.

The Confused report revealed that one in three drivers say they have suffered damage to their vehicle as a direct result of a pothole with tyres and suspension the most common parts of the car affected.

Even though councils spent £104million on repairing potholes in 2016 – an average cost of £245 per pothole – 69 per cent of drivers think they should do more.

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