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National Pothole Day highlights need for better road investment

With our road network providing a vital link for communities across Cornwall, National Pothole Day (tomorrow - Wednesday 15 January) highlights the need for better road investment.

We repaired more than 25,000 potholes in 2019 – around 68 per day – but it’s the Council’s ongoing investment in the highway network which is making a long-term difference to the resilience of our roads. This not only prevents potholes and highway defects – the scourge of road users - but ultimately saves on the cost of emergency repairs.

Council investment will see an extra £20m spent on our highway network by 2021 – in the last year more than 300 roads have been resurfaced across Cornwall as a result of the first phase of this funding.

Making the best use of our resources and targeting funding to where it is most needed has meant Cornwall’s main A and B roads continue to rank among the top 25% in the country. But, more Government funding is needed to tackle the £270m backlog in road maintenance and repairs on our 7,300km highway network, said Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council Cabinet portfolio holder for transport.

“While the Government’s manifesto pledge of extra funding for potholes is to be welcomed, this is just papering over the cracks,” he explained. “We must invest in our roads – particularly the rural network - and carry out work to prevent potholes forming in the first place. The only way we can do this is with a long term funding settlement from the Government.

“As a report from the County Council’s Network highlighted yesterday, rural councils are on the receiving end of less funding to carry out long term road repairs – major cities receive up to three times the amount in comparison. Our communities are just as reliant on their roads as those who live in cities – more so if you consider the public transport options available in some areas.

“Our investment demonstrates the benefits of proactive maintenance. This extra funding has improved the surface and drainage of more than 370 miles of road across Cornwall and it’s estimated that this work will prevent around 1,200 potholes from forming each year.”

While prevention is a priority, the Council’s contractor Cormac continues to respond swiftly to pothole issues, repairing around 98% within timescales set out in the Council’s policy. These potholes are being repaired quicker and with the environment in mind thanks to new vehicles which make it easier for crews to work on single track roads and a converted pothole repairer trailer which is powered by biomethane.

Dominic Bostock, Interim Managing Director at Cormac said “Thanks to the new additions to our road surfacing fleet we can now easily access narrow rural roads and apply innovative techniques to the way we repair road surfaces and prevent further damage. This has enabled us to significantly improve our productivity and means we are causing less disruption to road users.

“Our biomethane powered pothole filling machine trial has proven a huge success as the first of its kind, it has demonstrated how efficient it can be while reducing carbon emissions. We are excited about the future of our sustainable fleet where we can continue to explore other alternative powered vehicles.”

Highways crews regularly inspect roads for signs of potholes, but members of the public can also report highway defects online and track the progress of the action we’re taking to fix it. 

Report potholes and highway defects