Potholes in England are 15 times deeper than the Grand Canyon when combined together, new figures reveal

Jack Hardy
Nearly 700,000 new potholes were reported on the country’s highways over the past year - Cover Images

Potholes in England would now be 15 times deeper than the lowest point in the Grand Canyon if combined, with a new one reported every 43 seconds, figures have revealed. 

Nearly 700,000 new potholes were reported on the country’s highways over the past year, marking a 13% jump on the year before, according to data obtained by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

A parallel spike in the bill councils faced for repairing potholes - reaching £949 million in 2018/19 - has prompted calls for the Government to “sit up and take notice”.

Most local authorities define a pothole as any dip in the road surface of 40mm and above, meaning the combined depth of the past year’s potholes would reach 28km. 

This amounts to nearly 15 times deeper than the darkest depths of the Grand Canyon or three times the height of Mount Everest. 

More than £1.9 million was paid out in compensation to motorists who had their vehicles damaged by potholes last year, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Roads in the North East of England are most plagued by new potholes, with councils in the region receiving more than 100,000 complaints, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber with 92,000.

Britain's pothole crisis was described earlier this year as a "national scandal" in a report by MPs sitting on the Commons Transport Select Committee.

The FSB said the poor state of repair on roads was the scourge of many small businesses and demanded more funding for local authorities from central Government. 

Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the FSB, said: “Potholes are a major concern for the nation’s small businesses. Our members rely heavily on the local road network, with their staff, customers and trade deliveries, dependent on fast and efficient road networks. 

“Poorly looked-after roads peppered with holes and cracks not only hamper their ability to do business, but lead to damaged vehicles, which are often vital assets to small firms working without large capital reserves.

“These figures show just how widespread the issue is and it’s clear that the Government and local authorities need to sit up and take notice. 

“Measures like more funding for local authorities and improving the coordination between authorities and utility companies, will go some way in helping ease the burden of this ever-growing issue.”

The business group believes tighter communication better between utility companies and councils will speed-up repairs. It has also called for an improved system for reporting potholes and new technologies to monitor road conditions.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, claimed there was still a funding disparity between repairs for motorways and A roads compared to local roads.

Around 43 times more is spent per mile maintaining national roads, which make up just 3% of England’s roads, than the remaining 97% of local roads which are overseen by councils, the body said.

Judith Blake, the LGA’s transport spokesman, said: “Councils are on the side of the motorist, and are doing all they can to keep our roads safe and resilient, fixing a pothole every 17 seconds.

“However, councils could do so much more if they are able to invest in looking after our country’s roads.

“While the extra one-off funding announced in recent years has helped, the upcoming Spending Round is an opportunity to provide councils with the funding they need to invest in our local roads.”