Local authorities in the East Midlands receive a complaint to fix a pothole every 8 minutes, according to new Freedom of Information figures gathered by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
In total, just under £119m has been spent fixing damaged roads and holes in the region over 2018/19 – £1.5m more when compared to the previous year.
More than £326,000 has been paid out in compensation to claimants in the region that had their vehicles damaged last year. The figures revealed that just 35% of claims for vehicle damage were successful across the East Midlands, with the average pay out per claim equating to £237.
Potholes are a major blight on the nation’s roads. Small businesses rely heavily on the road network, with nine in 10 (89%) small firms considering the road network to be important, for their staff, customers and trade deliveries.
FSB is calling for a number of measures to help improve road infrastructure across the country, including:
• More funding for local authorities from central government to support planned regular maintenance programmes, and to help alleviate the pothole problem. Unless additional funding is provided, the road maintenance problem is likely to increase over time, meaning more will need to be spent on repairs and damage claims.
• Better coordination is needed between utilities companies and local authorities when roads need to be dug up. The amount of time that utility companies are responsible for the road they have dug up should be extended from the current two to five years.
• FSB also wants to see Government ensuring there is a simple system for both reporting potholes locally, as well as for submitting claims for damage to vehicles.
• Local authorities should use innovative technology to monitor road condition to enable them to identify deteriorating roads, learning from trailblazer councils.
Michael Weedon, FSB Policy Representative in the East Midlands, said: “Potholes are a major concern for the nation’s small businesses in the East Midlands. Our members in the region rely heavily on the local road network, with their staff, customers and trade deliveries, dependent on fast and efficient road networks.
“Poorly looked-after roads peppered with holes and cracks not only hamper their ability to do business, but lead to damaged vehicles, which are often vital assets to small firms from Daventry to Dronfield often working without large capital reserves.
“These figures show just how widespread the issue is and it’s clear that governments, both national and in the East Midlands, need to sit up and take notice. Measures like more funding for local authorities and improving the coordination between authorities and utility companies, will go some way in helping ease the burden of this ever-growing issue.”