Pothole repair work ‘has been a success’

Pothole repairs in Hall Close, Kettering, last month
Pothole repairs in Hall Close, Kettering, last month

The number of insurance claims made as a result of damage caused by potholes has fallen by 75 per cent, the county council has said.

The figures have been released as part of a report which says a new approach to repairing potholes, implemented in April 2010, had been a success.

The report, which will be presented to cabinet on Tuesday, has assessed the first three years of the Northamptonshire Highways Maintentance Initiative.

It found there were 880 insurance claims in the 12 monhts prior to the initiative’s introduction.

However, between May 2011 and April 2012, the total had fallen to just 217, less than a quarter of the previous figure, resulting in reductions in costs to the county as well as liability risk.

The report also highlights figures which show there is less repeated work done on individual sections of road, with 97 per cent of repairs in 2011-12 carried out on a permanent or semi-permanent level.

That compares to less than 50 per cent in the year before the initiative’s inception.

In reduced carbon dioxide emissions alone, these efficiencies saved the county council £126,000 in 2011-12.

The report also outlines plans to bring the same philosophy to proposed improvements to footways, structures and drainage.

Particular attention is to be focused on replacing slabbed walkways in estate roads and upgrading drains at flooding hotspots.

The initiative was introduced after a series of severe winters led to a strain on council resources. The authority’s priorities were changed to repair potholes with a long-term emphasis as opposed to prioritising the worst areas.

County council director of environment and transport Tony Ciaburro said the figures showed the initiative had been a success.

He said: “Over the last three years there have been improvements in terms of service level and the condition of some areas of the road network.

“Pothole-related claims against Northamptonshire County Council have seen a continued decrease over this same period and, in addition, the amount of first-time permanent repairs has improved dramatically.”

Meanwhile, the total area of carriageway which receive preventative surfacing treatment – designed to cut costs by being more resilient to wear and tear in the long term – has increased from 138,000 square metres in 2009-10 to 250,000 square metres in 2011-12.

But Mr Ciaburro added: “Despite the success of the initiative, there are still many roads that have gone beyond the point where preventative treatments are effective and these will require significant investment.”

Responses to the Telegraph’s #nnpotholewatch campaign continue to pour in.

Since it was launched in January, readers have been keen to get in touch and let us know about pock-marked roads they have experienced across the north of the county.

Our reporters and photographers are also on the hunt for the worst in our area.

We are reporting potholes to Northamptonshire County Council’s Street Doctor service, which promises to fix those potholes considered to have safety defects within five working days.

The prolonged cold snap this winter is believed to have increased the number of potholes, which are exacerbated by water running into cracks in the road, freezing and then expanding the gaps.

To let us know about potholes in your area, call our reporter on 01536 506163.

You can also send a Twitter message using the hashtag #nnpotholewatch, which we will be monitoring on a regular basis.