Drives me potty! Leeds pothole action plan to rid city of the motorists’ menace

PIC: Ben Birchall / PA Wire
PIC: Ben Birchall / PA Wire
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Thousands of potholes in Leeds could be filled in permanently - or stopped from forming completely - as part of a new £1m road repair campaign.

The city has previously landed in a pothole league of shame - with one crumbling street being named the worst in the country.

Council bosses say they have already put an action plan in place to deal with pothole hotspots in the city.

And it is hoped the new £711,000 cash injection will also help deal with areas that have “suffered repeated pothole formation” or are considered at high risk of falling prey to the perennial motorists’ menace.

The money is the city’s allocation from a £250m Government Pothole Action Fund announced in the Autumn Statement, and part of a wider £1m road repair project being actioned by the council.

A report just approved by Leeds City Council highways bosses says the campaign is “targeted at improving local roads and delivering better journeys”. It says the new cash boost could repair 13,415 individual potholes, although emphasis will also be put on preventative work. The report says: “It is intended that this additional funding will be used to deal with those locations that have the potential to develop into potholes or that have suffered repeated pothole formation and require localised repair.”

As part of the work in Leeds, £300,000 will be spent on repairs on the most congested main routes, where the risks of vehicle damage are highest.

The remaining £411,000 will be spent on residential roads at an average ”patching work” cost of £7,000 per street.

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said that although the Government cash was “welcome”, it goes only a small way towards plugigng a major shortfall in funding for road repairs.

“It would cost £87.5m to clear the backlog of highway maintenance work in Leeds so whilst this funding is certainly welcome, further significant national funding is needed to ensure that the significant demands of the city’s highways programme continue to be met,” the spokesman said.

He added: “As a council we allocate over £1m per year to tackling highways defects, which includes as a priority, addressing those potholes in need of quick and urgent repair across Leeds,” the spokesman said.

“We will be using this money from the Pothole Action Fund to undertake a range of preventative action in targeted areas.

“This will include carrying out pre-emptive steps at locations which are most likely to form potholes and also putting in place permanent solutions where previously an emergency or safety repair has been undertaken.”

Across the country, the Department for Transport has calculated that the £250m fund will repair a million potholes every year.

The YEP reported previously that drivers had filed over 1,000 compensation claims against Leeds City Council in a two-year period for damage caused to their cars by potholes.

In 2012/2013, the local authority received 785 claims, paying out over £99,000 to motorists who made successful claims.

In 2013/2014, it paid out almost £30,000 after 96 of the 332 drivers who sought compensation had their applications approved. The numbers were revealed after Freedom of Information requests from the RAC Foundation.

Across the country, councils had dealt with a total of 48,664 compensation claims in 2013/14 - an increase on the 2012/13 figure of 46,139 claims.

The total value of successful claims was £3.2m, with the average payout for a successful claim being £286.