Pothole Watch: Has your road gone to pot?

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It was National Pothole Day this week, but this is very much a local issue too. The shocking state of many of our roads is something that affects us all.

And it’s getting worse.

That’s why the PT is launching a campaign this week to improve the surfaces of our roads and highlight the worst cases.

Whether you’re a driver, cyclist or pedestrian, potholes are a costly and dangerous menace as vehicles attempt to swerve to avoid a looming crater or bounce through them risking uncertain damage or causing an accident.

Many people have been left counting the personal cost of a close encounter with a pothole and felt the frustration of wondering why, when we pay so much in various taxes, the roads which are at the heart of all aspects of daily life are in such a bad way. Of course, potholes are not a new problem and the authorities responsible for tackling them are well aware of the issue - but the dramatic variations in temperature and weather conditions in recent weeks has exacerbated the issue.

Let us be clear, we do not blame our local authorities and councils for the dire state of some of our roads and the purpose of this campaign is not to unfairly criticize them or their highways teams.

In recent years they have had their budgets severely pruned and difficult choices have had to be made. But enough is enough. The road network is core infrastructure for the economy, for residents and for the emergency services. It is vital it is improved.

So this is what we are asking of you our readers:

Send us a photo or video of a pothole that is causing you greatest concern - by email: news@peterboroughtoday.co.uk, or via Twitter to @ peterboroughtel or our Facebook page. Please include details of where it is. Please send a copy of this information to the council on their website. Make sure that when you are taking a photo you do so safely and do not put yourself at risk from traffic.

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We will be speaking to the council about the pothole concerns that you raise and, working with our sister newspapers across England, will support them in any lobbying of central government for additional funding.

Potholes may sound trivial. They are anything but. They have the potential to cause serious accidents and inflict substantial damage on our vehicles. Improving our roads is essential to making our communities safer and better places in which to live and work.

Earlier this year, motoring body the RAC warned that the condition of Britain’s roads was hanging in the balance as poor weather contributed to falling standards.

The RAC reported an 11 per cent rise in call-outs to pothole-related breakdowns in the last quarter of 2017 and warned that any further bad weather could lead to further sharp rises in the number of potholes and associated damage.

According to the service’s records, its patrols attended 2,830 breakdowns between October and December 2017 where vehicles had broken down due to damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs or distorted wheels, likely due to poor quality road surfaces.

That’s up from 2,547 incidents in the same period in 2016 and also represents a sharper increase between quarters three and four than in the previous year. While an increase is always expected between the two seasons as the weather turns colder, breakdowns rose by 45 per cent between the last two quarters of 2017, compared to 38 per cent in 2016.

“Put simply, potholes are a menace for drivers and indeed for all road users. They represent a serious road safety risk and anyone who has driven into one will know it can be a frightening experience, not to say a potentially costly one – distorted wheels, broken springs and shock absorbers can be very expensive problems to put right. And for those on two wheels it can be genuinely life-threatening,” warned RAC chief engineer David Bizley.

As part of his autumn Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £45 million fund to tackle potholes across England in 2018 but the RAC has called for a longer-term approach to road maintenance.