Surrey County Council has spent more than £800,000 in pothole compensation payouts in the last five years but it hopes front-loading the road maintenance budget will help end the broken-road scourge.
In that time it repaired about 221,456 potholes along its rundown road network, at an average of 121 per day. It was also announced that the Government was to give the county £3million to tackle the problem but some say this is “just a drop in the ocean” compared with how much the road budget falls in future years.
County hall’s finances this year include a capital fund of £69.8million for highways maintenance as part of a front-loaded £188m that was announced in February.
That is set to fall back to £29.5m a year – for the next four years – much more in line with the spending under its previous highways strategy which has led to the roads we have today.
It was also announced that individual councillor allowances of £100,000 to spend in their divisions would go, meaning any individual projects earmarked by members can not go ahead.
If highway’s can not be maintained, the opposition leader at Surrey County Council warned, then the roads will fall into further disrepair and the number of potholes, and motorists insurance claims, will rocket.
Councillor Will Forster said: “The cut to is to the road maintenance budget, this will mean the road surfaces will get worse. The cut is notable in the next financial year 24/25 and makes the £3m to repair the potholes from the Government look like a drop in the ocean.”
In 2018, Surrey County Council paid out £399,189 in compensation payments for claims relating to potholes – on both carriage and footway.
This declined to £135,949 in 2019 and was followed by two years where people were off the roads during the pandemic £83,415 and £79,364 in 2020 and 2021 – before climbing again as roads got busier in 2022 to £118,553.
These figures, the council said, relate to both property damage and personal injury with the “best endeavours” made to only include compensation payouts, however, “some figures may also include elements of legal costs and disbursements.”
A spokesperson for Surrey County Council said the road maintenance, capital, budget agreed by council in February totalled £188m for the next five years.
They added that the budget was front loaded, because work had been accelerated in order to realise the benefits sooner.
Image: Potholes in Surrey (Surrey Ad)