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Potholes in Kent drop in number but Kent County Council roads boss says it is still too many

Kent has seen a drop in the number of potholes but the county’s roads boss says it is “still way too high”.

Cllr Neil Baker, cabinet member at Kent County Council (KCC) for roads, concedes there is much work yet to be done to keep on top of the highways menace.

But a combination of better equipment, more funding and resources should help to alleviate the problem, he said.

KCC figures for January to April 2024 show reported potholes standing at 18,853, compared to 21,593 in the same period last year.

The numbers are sometimes bolstered artificially by double or multiple reporting of the same pothole.

But a greater public understanding that marked hollows mean they are going to be dealt with.

Cllr Baker said: “The drop in reported potholes is welcome of course but it’s no cause for celebration - it is still a large number and still way too high.

“Is there an argument that people are now more aware about reporting and if the road is marked up the pothole is already reported?”

KCC Tory Cllr Neil Baker (cabinet member, Transport)
KCC Tory Cllr Neil Baker (cabinet member, Transport)

Potholes are not just a Kent problem.

From the south west of England to the north east, roads are crumbling at a faster rate while the traditional methods of repairing them have not kept up.

Wetter winters with prolonged cold spells can make the problem considerably worse as well as some of the county’s roads being laid on soft soil.

Contractors are using updated machinery such as the 130 tonne Pothole Pro which can patch affected areas and create a longer repair.

Pothole numbers are down
Pothole numbers are down

Dubbed 'car killers' by driving instructors due to the damage they can cause to their vehicles, potholes appear after heavy rain and cold weather, particularly in winter.

KCC says that £50m is now being poured into tackling the problem in Kent with the new, semi-automatic technology as well as taking on additional contractors to carry out repairs.

Margate KCC councillor Barry Lewis (Labour) said KCC’s target of repairing potholes within 28 days was “in effect scrapped” and that only emergency repairs were now carried out. This view is disputed by KCC.

Labour’s transport spokesman, Cllr Lewis, added: “We would invest in modern technology that is up to the scale of the problem to make sure that the repairs are done well and that they last for longer.

Labour Kent County Councillor Barry Lewis
Labour Kent County Councillor Barry Lewis

“If we do one pothole, we should resurface the whole section of road to make it more robust rather than repairing one and then coming back to the same road three months later to do another one.”

A recent survey from the AA showed that fixing potholes and investing in road maintenance is a priority for 96% of drivers.

These funds can also help boost road safety and encourage active travel, as smoother road surfaces will make it safer and easier for cyclists to use roads with greater confidence, according to the Department for Transport.

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