Potholes

Please read our information on how we are supporting residents and businesses, as well as information on affected services.


Potholes are the unavoidable result of an ageing highway surface.  We carry out safety inspections on a regular basis on our entire highway network.

Potholes can develop in a very short time.  It is possible that one can appear between inspections and so we are not aware of it.  This is why we appreciate you reporting them.

Report a pothole in Cornwall

Report a pothole online

For urgent problems or emergencies outside of normal office hours please telephone 0300 1234 222.  Facebook and Twitter are not monitored 24 hours a day and may not be monitored at weekends.

Pothole treatment

Safety is always our primary consideration.  Some of the factors we take into account when prioritising pothole treatment are:

  • the size and depth of the hole
  • the volume of traffic (vehicles or pedestrians)
  • speed of an affected road
  • the likelihood of the pothole contributing to an accident.

How and when we fill a pothole depends on two factors:

  • whether the pothole has been reported to us or identified during a safety inspection.
  • the priority we assign the defect.

We prioritise any repair as soon as practical. We aim to treat significant hazards by the end of the next working day. Often less dangerous defects form part of a wider patching or surfacing programme. 

Why we don’t resurface all old roads to prevent potholes from happening

Prevention is better than cure.  The most effective way to deal with potholes is to prevent them from happening in the first place.   We do not have enough funds to completely resurface the 7,200km of roads that we maintain.  We follow best practice guidance.

We use a robust approach which seeks to deliver the best possible value for the funds that we have.

Resurfacing is only a part of the work we do.  We prioritise works based on usage and condition.  We then adjust the number of schemes based upon the amount of funding available to us.

Highways England maintain the major roads in the Cornwall such as the majority of the A30 and A38.  They do this on behalf of central government.  These roads are not the responsibility of Cornwall Council.

How we identify potholes

Highways Safety Inspectors identify potholes during routine surveillance.  Our Highways Safety Inspectors are all accredited.  They inspect our highway network and log issues needing repair.

We also have an online reporting tool where anyone can report a suspected defect or issue.  The Highways Safety Inspectors verify these issues on site.  They are then programmed for treatment where appropriate.

We aim to repair all potholes at the first visit using a permanent repair.   A repair may not happen straight away if traffic management is complex or the cause of failure is not clear.

We publish full details of our surface treatment programmes.

Issue with a road surface

If you want to report an issue with a road surface, rather than individual potholes please use this form:

Report an issue with a road surface

Examples of a what might be considered a defective road surface, as opposed to a pothole, could be:

  • large areas of uneven surface depressions
  • trench failure
  • edge deterioration
  • cracking/crumbling road surface

Claiming compensation from the Council

In most instances we are not responsible for injury or damages sustained due to potholes.  

Repaired potholes

Below are the number of potholes we have repaired in the last 5 financial year:

  • 2020/21 - April to November - 12,831
  • 2019/20 - 23,784
  • 2018/19 - 31,239
  • 2017/18 - 30,506
  • 2016/17 - 28,584

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