Plan to tackle £300m road repair backlog

A pothole being repaired in Hall Close, Kettering
A pothole being repaired in Hall Close, Kettering

The director of Northamptonshire Highways has explained how the county council intends to tackle a £300m backlog in road maintenance.

David Farquhar set out the authority’s plans during a live webcast yesterday, which was held to tell councillors how the Northamptonshire highways maintenance initiative works.

Under the initiative the council has moved to a more proactive way of dealing with road repairs, taking more time to do longer-lasting repairs and focusing on prevention rather than cure. Mending a pothole costs £80 per sq m, while putting a new surface on a road can cost as little as £3 per sq m.

Council figures show that six per cent of the strategic road network and 24 per cent of local roads need attention.

Mr Farquhar stressed that the poor condition of the highways is a national problem caused by a lack of investment over tens of years. The initiative was introduced about three years ago and is proving so successful, other councils are copying it.

Under it, the council has moved away from “splash and dash” repairs where the pothole was repaired as quickly as possible but to a poor standard, to getting it right first time, where they take up to five days to go out and do a longer-lasting repair. However Mr Farquhar emphasised that preventing a pothole appearing in the first place is a much more cost-effective approach.

Until last winter public satisfaction with the state of the county’s roads had been increasing but the long winter resulted in 11,000 complaints about potholes.

Mr Farquhar said fixing them all would take the whole highways budget for the year, and said: “We have to temper what we can do with what we can afford.”

The seminar also covered issues such as overgrown hedges, signs which are difficult to read because of obstructions, gritting footpaths in the winter, provision for cyclists and rural roads.

To see the webcast go to

Pothole watch

The Northamptonshire Telegraph runs a Pothole Watch campaign to encourage readers to tell us about the worst roads they have driven along.

To tell us about your potholes email or send a Twitter message with the hashtag #nnpotholewatch.

Alternatively, use the county council’s Street Doctor service at

The county council aims to repair large potholes within five days of them being reported.