A North East council claims it is on target to clear its backlog of potholes by the end of the month.
Earlier this year Northumberland County Council leader Grant Davey told councillors during the budget meeting, that “we will eliminate potholes by June”.
The council agreed to provide an extra £600,000 funding to accelerate the programme of pothole repairs across the county, saying it will bring the backlog under control by June – three months earlier than anticipated.
Council officials now claim to have reduced the backlog of potholes in Northumberland by 71% since the end of January meaning the council is on track to clear the backlog completely by the end of this month.
Councillor Ian Swithenbank, policy board member for streetcare and environment said: “We are on track to fulfil our pledge to clear this backlog of potholes by the end of June. We have taken a proactive approach to pothole repair and we are doing more long term repairs instead of temporary patches.”
The latest data shows that at the end of May the council had achieved a total pothole reduction of 8,676 out of 12,213, with 3,537 still outstanding.
All potholes in the backlog for the South East Northumberland area have been cleared, but this makes up a much smaller proportion compared to the thousands in the rest of the county.
In Morpeth, 1,658 potholes have been repaired out of 3,022 and in Rothbury 1,529 have been repaired out of 2,101. According to the council, all backlog potholes in the Haltwhistle area are now repaired but only 1,349 of 2,356 in the Bellingham area have been looked at.
But Councillor Peter Jackson, leader of the Conservatives, said it was nothing to celebrate.
“Residents from all across Northumberland keep telling me that potholes are a major problem,” he said.
“I see it with my own eyes when I travel across the county.
“It is a hollow victory for the leader of the council if he thinks this, he never gets out of Morpeth, he must see around the north and west.”
Coun Jackson added that a long-term solution was needed to repair roads in the county.
Coun Davey, Leader of the council and Labour group, said: “It’s a mark of how this council is progressing against the savage cuts imposed by the government supported by Northumberland Conservatives as we close in on tackling the huge pothole ‘blackhole’ inherited from the Lib Dem administration. We set aside £600,000 additional spending on potholes which resulted in over £230,000 spent in the West of the county so I’m afraid Councillor Jackson is, once again, seeking to play politics with a good news story.”
There has been a substantial increase in the number of potholes over the last five years with 68,000 defects in the county’s roads and footpaths between November 2012 and December last year alone.
In the last seven months Northumberland County Council said it has reduced the backlog of potholes through investment in new methods and machinery, including the purchase of two Jetpatcher repair machines and the use of two additional road menders.
Maintenance teams are based in the community to repair defects and carry out small works and drainage improvements. Currently there’s a team operating within each of the 14 inspection areas, with four teams in the North, four teams in the West and six teams in the South East.
Residents can now follow the progress the council is making clearing the pothole backlog on a monthly basis on the Northumberland County Council website www.northumberland.gov.uk/pothole .