An annual survey looking at the state of local roads across Greater Manchester has shown complaints about potholes are falling, but there’s been a huge spike in the number of legal claims for damage they’ve caused to motor vehicles.
While the study shows general complaints are down by nearly a third, to 26,186 in 2018/19 from almost 40,000 the previous year, the number of legal claims has risen sharply and stands at a record 2,127 – an increase of 25%.
Manchester Council recorded nearly half of that total figure, with 928 claims for vehicular damage received by the town hall last year, a huge rise of 511% (+776) from 152 from the year before. It represents the highest increase of any local authority in GM; Trafford was second with 317 complaints, up from 261 the previous year, and nearly triple (131) the year before that.
In terms of general complaints about potholes, Manchester Council also topped the list with 8,150 – although that figure was down from 8,183 the previous year. After taking Manchester out of the equation, of the ‘satellite’ authorities, Oldham was the worst performer with 3,276 pothole complaints, slightly more than last year’s 3,269 figure.
Salford retains its crown as having the least most complained about roads, with just 910 moans about the state of its tarmac – down from 1,003 the year before. It also had the fewest number of claims for damage to vehicles at 28, of which it paid out on none of those claims. Stockport was the highest spending authority on road repairs, shelling out a huge £9.22million, with complaints down from 2,018 to 1,655.
FSB Area Lead for Greater Manchester, Phil Thompson, said “It’s great to see that most of the councils in GM splurging cash on their road networks, but it’s definitely a work in progress as our data shows. The rising number of complaints about vehicle damage suggests there are some really nasty roads still out there, with some very damaging and in fact probably quite dangerous craters which need to be prioritised. I would urge all road users to report potholes immediately.
“If councils don’t know about a problem, they can’t fix it. The longer a pothole is left the worse it becomes, and when a road requires closing to be fixed that’s when we start to see traffic jams and issues for businesses.
He added: “Most business rely on the road network more than any other type of transport infrastructure – they are vital for regional economies to attract business investment, and therefore jobs and growth. We are now starting to see the dividends of investment, but we need more of the same and it has to be sustained for a more resilient network. Councils need more cash, and Government must provide it.
He added: “On the back of potentially vast swathes of new taxation generated for authorities in GM by the Clean Air Zone pollution charging scheme, which will come entirely from the pocket of business, I would hope to see much more investment in our roads. It’s only fair that money made from roads, should be spent on roads – who can argue with that?
“I would also add that if councils would like to see more of us switching to sustainable transport, like bikes, to reduce the region’s pollution levels, ensuring roads are safe for cyclists and walkers should be a priority.”