THE North East has been named as one of the worst regions in the country for potholes, according to new research.
The findings show the region as having more than the national average number of potholes with 19 per neighbourhood, a figure only surpassed in Scotland which averages 20.1.
Calls are now being made for councils to “get to grips” with the growing problem before the winter weather sets in causing yet more potholes on already blighted roads. AA president Edmund King said: “Our streetwatch volunteers have once again shown that the UK has a pothole plague which has not gone away despite extra repairs this year.
“Highways authorities need to get to grips with the pothole problem, as compensation claims will soar when cold weather strikes and roads start breaking up again, placing greater burdens on already strained budgets.”
AA had 1,000 ‘watchers’ spread out across each region who volunteered to walk for one hour from their houses surveying the conditions of roads and paths on their way.
The national average found 14.9 potholes per neighbourhood compared with 12.5 a year ago.
But today North East council’s have challenged the AA survey.
A North Tyneside Council spokesman said: “Independent evidence has previously recognised our highway performance as above the levels in other parts of the country.
“We have taken a very robust response to the problem of potholes which resulted from the severity of the winter weather over the last two years.”
Dave Wilcox, Durham County Council’s strategic highways manager, said: “We recognise the importance of tackling the problem of potholes and have, therefore, managed to maintain our budget for this year, with £5m to spend on targeted resurfacing works as well as an additional £2.3m from the Department for Transport.
“We have a robust inspection system for identifying potholes, with 97% being repaired within 24 hours of inspection and the rest being filled within 48 hours. This work is carried out by dedicated teams who are currently repairing about 300 potholes per week compared to around 600 at the height of last winter.
“We are also trying alternative methods and equipment for filling holes which should make repairs more durable and longer lasting.”
Councillor Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association’s economy and transport board, said councils filled a record 2.2m potholes last year – one every 15 seconds.
He added that during 2010/11 they spent £1.3bn repairing roads, £128m more than the previous year, despite having their highways’ budgets cut by the Government.
Against a national average of 12.8 repaired potholes per neighbourhood, the North East averaged 16.4.