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Council refutes Derbyshire is 'the pothole county of the UK' - as it targets repairs with multi-million pound-funding

Pothole damage in Derbyshire (Photo: DT)
Pothole damage in Derbyshire (Photo: DT)

Mac’s Trucks Rental Pothole Analysis Report survey dubbed Derbyshire as “the pothole county of the UK” after ranking the county as the region with the most recorded potholes, from last year, in the UK – claiming that the county had 90,596 potholes during that time.

It also claimed that there was a significant gap between Derbyshire and its second ranked worst area, Lancashire, which was recorded as having had 67,439 potholes, last year, and in third place, Northumberland, was recorded as having had 51,703 potholes.

Councillor Charlotte Cupit, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Assets and Transport, said: “We understand the condition of our roads and pavements is a really important issue for local people and we’re always working hard to improve them.

Pictured is an example of road repairs
Pictured is an example of road repairs

“We also know that Derbyshire has a diverse geography and a huge highways network, with 3500 miles of road, 2794 miles of footpaths, 1182 highways bridges and many other assets.

“We’re up against bigger challenges than we’ve ever faced previously with wetter and more extreme weather conditions, as shown by issues such as the high number of landslips we’re currently managing across the county.”

County Council Leader, Cllr Barry Lewis, has also argued that the council’s recording system for potholes includes minor roads unlike other Local Authorities’ records, which produces unfair statistics.

An Independent media outlet survey, in March, 2023, with Compare the Market data, claimed Derbyshire County Council was the fourth worst Local Authority in the UK for pothole repairs with allegedly 71 per cent of its roads in need of repairs, at that time.

But, in May, 2023, the council confirmed it had fixed as many as 42,036 potholes between January and May, 2023, and a national survey revealed that the local authority has recently fixed more potholes than any other highways authority in the country.

During this purge, the council mobilised extra road workers who were working weekends and longer hours and they deployed jetpatcher machines with high velocity air streams to clear holes of debris and to lay and compact Tarmac.

The council stated that it normally operates with 18 pothole gangs but since the beginning of the year it aims to increase this number to 30 and extra gangs are being created by moving road workers from other jobs.

This followed research from the Bill Plant Driving School that had claimed Derbyshire was the county with the largest percentage of A-roads and motorways in a poor condition and requiring maintenance.

Cllr Cupit added: ““Last year we fixed 100,000 potholes and as of August 20 we’ve filled over 67,000 potholes. Given the exceptionally wet summer we have been repairing more potholes in our roads at a time when we’d expect to see reports fall, but as the above statistics show we are working hard to try to rise to these challenges. I thank all our highways staff for the efforts they are making.

“We therefore don’t agree with the Compare the Market or Mac’s Trucks data or their conclusions. The pothole statistics above show we are pushing to fill an extraordinary number of potholes each year, and this can sometimes be misinterpreted, as was highlighted earlier this year by Cllr Lewis.

“The data between authorities also isn’t comparable as recognised by the Department for Transport and doesn’t give an accurate picture. The Derbyshire data, unlike other council areas, includes many miles of minor B and C roads as well as motorways and A roads which are looked after by National Highways, not us.

“We do this to be open and honest with residents but also to get a better picture of exactly what condition our roads are in, which areas need investment and repair, how urgent the repairs are and how we should react.”

The council has stated that constant freezing and thawing, followed by rainfall at the start of 2023 had led to roads cracking and causing an increase in potholes and carriageway deterioration.

In addition, the council officially agreed in July to accept £4.2m of additional Government funding towards highway maintenance and pothole repairs for 2023 and 2024.

And work has been underway to identify locations where this funding can be used to improve the county’s highways.

The council has also stated that over the next year it will be carrying out major improvements to the county’s roads and pavements as part of an overall three-year, £120m investment programme.

And most recently, the council announced the roll-out of a countywide £1m repair programme for autumn targeting 124 residential roads which was scheduled to get underway from September, 2023.

This work will also involve a process called micro-asphalt which seals the road with stone, cement and bitumen to not only repair potholes but to prevent further damage as the council contends with challenging weather conditions.

Cllr Cupit added: “To improve the condition and resilience of our roads, pavements and other highways structures, we are making big investments.

“This includes the three-year £120m capital programme, which this year alone has surface-dressed 34.5 miles of roads and is resurfacing 77 pavements.

“We’re also currently focusing on our £1 million pound residential road repair programme, targeting 124 streets using micro-asphalt to seal and smooth the road surface before the arrival of the colder weather.

“On top of this, we’re further rising to the challenges of the difficult and changing weather conditions and the impact this is having on our roads.

“We’re working to make the best use of the additional £4.2m Government grant funding for pothole repairs and making the case to Government for additional funding and investment.

“We’re also investing in additional jetpatchers and other equipment to try to prepare for the challenges winter weather may cause. And, we’re working on innovative projects, such as a reactive maintenance materials trial with the aim of using the best treatments and enabling first time pothole fixes wherever possible.”