A year ago today, we took to the streets to celebrate the first National Pothole Day organised by Street Repairs. As we explained at the time, this was an attempted mass action against those nasty little pockmarks on our roads. The idea was that we’d all go outside, with our smartphones and our senses, to record as many of them as possible. That information would be beamed to the relevant councils, who would then, hopefully, act on it.
Well, now it’s the second National Pothole Day, so we thought we’d mark the occasion again. In truth, much of what we said in last year’s blog-post still stands today. Potholes are still a widespread menace, and they are still a concern for legislators who are keen to attract the votes of motorists. After giving councils some extra money, in the form of two ‘pothole funds’, during the last Parliament, George Osborne has since introduced a ‘permanent pothole fund’ of £250 million to help patch up local roads.
But some things have changed since last year. Thanks to some wonderful Freedom of Information work by LV=, we now know more about the scale of the problem. As of last November, there were, apparently, some 31,162 potholes awaiting repair. That amounts to about 12,000 miles’ worth of road, or, as LV= put it, ‘enough road to stretch half way around the world’. I repeat: half way around the world. This is quite a nasty affliction.
Sadly, it has probably grown worse recently. Another thing that has changed since last year’s National Pothole Day, as it always does, is the weather. December was the wettest month in a century. The country has been battered by storms, and left submerged under floodwater. And now we’re in the middle of a sharp January chill. These are basically the perfect conditions for potholes. The roads are saturated with rainwater, which then solidifies and expands into ice, causing cracks to spread and fissures to open up.
All of which makes this year’s National Pothole Day feel particularly important. There are drivers out there who need awareness raising, and holes filled in. Councils could do with it too. According to LV=’s figures, £1.5 million was paid out in compensation to motorists whose cars were damaged by potholes in 2014-15. That, admittedly, is only a small portion of the cost of repairing all the roads, but it’s still a significant sum. Far better that there are no holes in the first place.
So, please head out and start geo-locating your local potholes today! Or, actually, not just today, but every day. Those 12,000 miles aren’t going to repair themselves.