Northumberland potholes tally currently stands at 6,600

Northumberland's potholes tally stands at 6,600, months after council bosses said they had tackled its backlog

Potholes in Northumberland following heavy snow
Potholes in Northumberland following heavy snow

A North council which last year said it had cleared its pothole problem now has over 6,500 to tackle, according to new figures.

Northumberland County Council’s Labour leaders pledged early last year to clear the authority’s backlog of potholes, and later claimed that it had achieved that task.

Figures provided by the authority now reveal that its current backlog stands at 6,600.

A council boss said Northumberland’s massive road network had suffered from long-term under-investment and bad weather, but that it has invested heavily in tackling potholes.

He cited the county’s topping of a poll for road satisfaction and welcomed the recent announcement of £90m government funding to tackle road repairs.

An opposition councillor claimed the county has a “serious pothole problem” and that in spite of Labour’s pledge last year,

“much more needs to be done.”

He also welcomed the funding announcement, claiming it followed lack of investment “over many years” from previous governments.

Council leader Grant Davey revealed last February how the authority was to spend £600,000 to bring forward work repairing roads across the county, in order to eliminate potholes by June - three months earlier than scheduled.

The figure at the time stood at 12,500, down from 17,000 the previous month.

At the end of June, the council claimed it had cleared the backlog.

Around the same time, the Department for Transport announced an additional £2.9m to tackle potholes in Northumberland, on the back of another £2.7 million from the ‘weather repair fund’ which had been announced in March.

Last month, Northumberland was given a further £91m by the government, towards roads maintenance for the six years to 2021, just over a third of the total to be spent in the North East.

Now, in response to a freedom of information request, the county council has put its current backlog at 6,600.

Ian Swithenbank, policy board member for streetcare and environment, said: “As with many local authorities, Northumberland County Council has seen its road network deteriorate over the past few years, mainly due to long-term under investment, exacerbated by a series of severe weather events.

“Northumberland is one of the country’s largest counties with over 3,200 miles of carriageway.

“The council recognises the importance of maintaining this network and has, over the past two years, invested heavily in additional resources to help tackle the issue.

“During this time, we have repaired over 40,000 potholes and recently topped the poll in the ‘most improved county council’ category in the Highways and Transportation public satisfaction survey 2014.

“We are currently carrying out more work on the county’s highways than we have seen for many years. The council is pleased that the government has recognised this funding gap and it will provide a welcome boost to the roads budget in 2015/16.”

Conservative county councillor for Morpeth North David Bawn said: “Northumberland has a serious pothole problem.

“Despite council leader Grant Davey’s pledge to clear the backlog of potholes last year, much more needs to be done.

“I welcome the recent announcement that Northumberland is going to receive £91 million of extra funding from central government to address this issue.

“It is telling that Northumberland is receiving the lion’s share of the pothole repair money allocated to the North East, in belated recognition of the lack of funding we have received over many years from previous governments.”

The £91m given to Northumberland is part of a £268m given to authorities in the North East, and £6bn across the country.

Yet the RAC has warned that figure may not be enough with some local authorities in England facing a backlog of up to £100 million to repair roads in their area.

Unions representing taxi drivers and council workers say the country has a “shocking” record of investment in roads.

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