An annual survey of local road health in Greater Manchester has shown an increase in recorded complaints about potholes since the pandemic.
Research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) also reveals that a number of municipalities failed to spend their allocated budget on road repairs last year despite soaring complaints about damaged tarmac, in some cases more than 20%. At Bolton, underutilization was £2.35million, despite vehicle damage claims up by a third since 2019.
The FSB – which usually does the search every year but has paused during the pandemic – says data shows some councils are struggling to carry out repair work that will lead to growing backlogs and an increase in complaints.
Robert Downes, FSB Development Director for Greater Manchester, said: “Our latest research shows that complaints about potholes are on the rise and the number of vehicle damage claims continues to rise in the most areas of the council, although road traffic is down significantly with the pandemic triggering work from home cultivation. Despite this, four of Greater Manchester’s 10 authorities are underspending on their road repair budgets – and in some cases by significant amounts. Why is it?
“However, research has also shown that some councils are spending huge sums to fix potholes, with some authorities – notably Stockport – pumping huge sums of money into fixing the problem, and even spending huge sums on the budget allocated to do so,” he added.
FSB research, carried out through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests submitted to town halls, shows that Manchester Council had the highest number of legal claims for damage to vehicles by poorly maintained roads with 248 complaints last year. Salford had the lowest.
Stockport Council has had the highest number of complaints about potholes, with 8,770 complaints, or around 24 a day. The council with the fewest complaints was Tameside with 1,651 for the year.
FSB’s Robert Downes added: ‘We are doing this analysis not because we have a pop in the advice, but because we know the vast majority of businesses in Greater Manchester depend on the road network more than any other type of infrastructure. transport for the smooth running. conduct of their operations.
“Roads are vital for local economies to attract business investment, for businesses to trade, to get customers through their doors, to city centers, to deliver deliveries on time and to store them, for staff travel to and from work; we need a resilient road network and I think most road users would agree that is not the case.
“We know that transport infrastructure underpins jobs and growth, so we need councils and other maintenance bodies like National Highways (formerly Highways England) to stay on top of the road network. When roads are allowed to crumble, small jobs become big jobs, all too often requiring major road works and road closures. It slows everything down, so no more traffic jams, and as we know, no more pollution.
“Also consider the mayor’s huge effort to get people to ride bikes. Dangerous roads littered with potholes won’t do much to entice many to switch to two wheels. How can that be true?
“At the end of the day, councils need more government money to move forward with road repairs and maintenance, but perhaps more troubling is the evidence that some councils may be struggling to spend their allocated budget. despite the growing problem? Is it a labor issue or something else? »
And he concluded: “I urge all road users to report potholes immediately. If councils are unaware of a problem, they cannot fix it.