More potholes in UK than 'craters on the Moon'

Labour has claimed there are 100 times more potholes in the UK than there are craters on the Moon. Shadow transport minister Bill Esterson told the House of Commons that the roads repair backlog has hit an "eye-watering £16.3 billion", in reference to an Asphalt Industry Alliance survey report published earlier in 2024.

Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Dyke said Somerset "is unfortunately home to tens (of) thousands of potholes" and felt that pothole funding "acts as only a temporary sticking plaster". Earlier this year, locals in Watchet say they were 'told to fill in potholes themselves' after years of dismay caused by a road littered with 'bomb craters'.

Facing questions from MPs, Transport Secretary Mark Harper hit back and said: "We've set out our plan very carefully £8.3 billion of extra money to improve the quality of local roads."

Read more:

Mr Esterson raised concerns over the road repairs backlog. He said: "At the last transport questions, the Secretary of State suggested that drivers know what they're getting with a Conservative Government. Well, drivers know one thing they're getting from this Government: more potholes 100 times as many as there are craters on the Moon.

"RAC patrols attended 33% more breakdowns related to poor road maintenance than in 2022, meanwhile, AA callouts were at a five-year high. The road repairs backlog has gone up to an eye-watering £16.3 billion that's far greater than his allocation of money from scrapping the northern leg of HS2."

The Department for Transport has pledged to spend £8.3 billion on road resurfacing over the period 2023 to 2024 and the next 10 years. Mr Harper said Labour "has not backed" the Department for Transport's plan to set aside this sum for councils to spend on road resurfacing.

The Government said the money is "reallocated" spending, part of a larger £36 billion figure originally earmarked for the now-cancelled High Speed 2 railway between Birmingham and Manchester.

Mr Harper also claimed Labour "has not committed a single penny of money to local roads". He said: "The choice is clear if you vote Conservative, you get £8.3 billion spent on roads, if you vote Labour, you get none."

Earlier in the session, Labour MP Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) said: "Residents in West Fenham recently said to me that car mechanics must be the main beneficiaries of Conservative transport policy given the steady flow of work for them, caused by the terrible state of the roads."

Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Dyke (Somerton and Frome) said: "Somerset is unfortunately home to tens (of) thousands of potholes.

"Persistent flooding makes this problem worse, but so does the lack of attention given to improving the future resilience of our roads.

"So, does the minister recognise the importance of future-proofing our roads with specific funding for local authorities to spend on such measures, as opposed to pothole funding that acts as only a temporary sticking plaster?"

Mr Harper said: "I absolutely do."

"Part of the point about giving local authorities that significant increase in funding but also setting it out over a 10-year period so that they have certainty over that longer period is exactly so that they can move away from dealing with pothole-filling and actually have a proper road resurfacing programme."