UK blighted by potholes after Christmas freeze damages roads

Britain's motorists are facing a 'pothole crisis' after the pre-Christmas freeze left the nation's roads blighted with cracks and holes.

Broken alloys, cracked wheel arches and burst tyres have become a symptom of the cavernous potholes that now pockmark the UK roads.

According to the RAC 60 per cent of drivers think the roads are worse than a year ago, naming road surface quality as the main issue.

Experts in highway management state the rapid freeze and thawing cycles the country has experienced over the last month have made potholes worse.

Dazie Warne, 27, hit a water-filled pothole in Ashford, Kent, on New Year's Eve, damaging both her front and back tyre on one side.

She said: "I pulled into the tyre garage two minutes away from where it happened.

"Three other people pulled in while I was there waiting to get picked up.

"They had all just gone down that same pothole."

Declan Moriarty, 32, paid £120 to fix his tyre after hitting a pothole on the A20 in Kent, creating a dangerous bulge in the tyre surface.

Despite this Kent County Council council denied his claim for reimbursement as it the damage was deemed "non-critical".

Potholes cost UK councils over £3.7 million in compensation in 18 months between 2018 and 2019.

However according to the AA potholes only cost an average of £39.80 each to fix.

David Ward, secretary of Tenterden Labour branch in Kent described the situation in his county as "deadly serious".

He said: "It is very concerning as there are about 20 potholes in East Cross – the whole road surface is breaking up.

"It is reaching ludicrous proportions. It is an astonishing degree of neglect and it's just a matter of time before someone is hurt."

Maria Saintey from Cambridge, Cambs, said: "My daughter damaged her tyre on Limekiln Road and had to pay £137 to get a new one.

"While she was changing tyres on the same road it happened to another vehicle."

Nicola Willis thought she had hit something from the thud her nephew's vehicle made in Cambridge, which turned out to be a pothole causing a puncture.

In Glasgow, Paul Christopher Clements hit a pothole that shredded his tyre in the Bannerman area on Jan 3.

This is despite the road being reported to the council multiple times in 2022.

He phoned Glasgow City Council who said there was "nothing they could do".

Across Scotland only 15.76 per cent of pothole claims were paid out in 2021-2022, but it was the city of Glasgow that saw the lowest rate of compensation for pothole damage.

Only 3 per cent of Glasgow drivers' 3,000 claims were reimbursed between 2018 and 2021.

It is a postcode lottery as to whether compensation claims will be paid, with one Scottish council paying out 42.8 per cent of its cases in one year.

Last year the national government spent £6.6 billion upgrading and maintaining local roads and £5.6 billion on national roads in the UK.

But some say councils need a complete rethink in order to address the widening issue of potholes.

Stephen Morgan, 67, a retired council worker from Cambridge said: "I've had to swerve my vehicle to avoid the potholes in the city.

"There seems to be no forward-thinking about this issue, possibly due to a lack of manpower.

"Councils are sued regularly for this issue, but they could anticipate the bad weather and do something about it.

"The Greater Cambridge Partnership was given £24 million to upgrade Milton Road near where I live. Surely this can be used to resurface it."

West Sussex County Council said it would take a more "holistic approach" to solving its pothole problem after refilling 22,000 potholes between April and October 2022.

The council had paid out £250,000 in compensation for damage over the last four years, in one severe case paying £19,000.

Glyn Barnett suffered two wheel cracks and three punctures due to potholes around Meldreth and Shepreth in Cambridgeshire.

He didn't gain any compensation but stated the issue is bigger than individual holes- the roads need completely resurfacing.

A spokesperson from Kent County Council said: “Due to the weather we have experienced of late; wet, sub-zero for a period, the freeze and the thaw cycle rapidly increases areas of deterioration into potholes.

“We will continue to monitor and take any necessary action.

"We are currently working through all reported ones and will raise jobs to have these repaired as soon as possible.

“We continue to encourage the public to report all issues via our website.”