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Tougher rules on potholes considered by the government

Estimated reading time: 2 mins 40 secs

Alice Sanderson, March 08, 2019

The government is considering new proposals that could see tougher rules imposed on utility companies around potholes.

Currently, utility companies must guarantee to fix any potholes that form within two years of them carrying out any roadworks.

Under proposals to be considered by the Department of Transport, this would increase to five years.

The issue of potholes

This comes at a time where potholes are becoming a bigger priority for the government, as the repair bill mounts.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), whose members supply much of the materials used for filling in potholes, claim that £8bn would be needed to carry out a thorough fix of potholes in England. They also claim that one in five roads in England and Wales are in poor condition.

An extra £420m (for potholes, road repairs and bridge maintenance) was promised to councils by Chancellor Phillip Hammond in his October budget.

Potholes have become such an issue that the AA has proposed that learner drivers should have to prove they can spot potholes to pass their driving test.

What does the government say?

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "Potholes are the biggest enemy for road users and this government is looking at all options to keep our roads in the best condition.

"Road surfaces can be made worse by utility companies, so imposing higher standards on repairs will help keep roads pothole-free for longer."

Response

Street Works UK, a trade association for the utilities industry, said it isn’t necessary to increase the pothole guarantee to five years.

Their chief executive, Clive Bairsto, said: "The government should not take forward proposals unless they are supported by a strong evidence base.

"Utilities and their contractor partners play a vital role in delivering and maintaining vital infrastructure which powers the economy, and it is crucial that any new regulations are proportionate."

In contrast, Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said that utility companies should be held to account when doing roadworks to make sure they repair roads properly.

He called potholes “the bane of road users’ lives” and added: "A five-year guarantee might cause the utility companies to sit up and take notice, but only if they believe local highway authorities will have the resource to monitor the state of repairs up to five years after they have been done."

Other solutions

Another proposal by the government is to make carriageways less prone to potholes in the first place by allowing innovative road surfacing techniques to be used.

One way of doing this is to use asphalt with a high bitumen content which makes it easier to compact to the required density.

It was also announced by the Department of Transport last year that councils in England can introduce lane rental schemes, which will charge utility companies up to £2,500 a day to dig up busy roads, in an attempt to reduce the time it takes to finish roadworks.

More information

Potholes are not only a danger to your car, but can also lead to road traffic accidents or injure pedestrians.

If you have been injured due to a pothole, contact First4Lawyers today and let our expert solicitors help you get compensation for your injuries. Request a call back from one of our team for more information:

Get in touch today - we can help with your claim 08005677866