• FOI data shows more than 76,000 potholes were reported in the last year across the West Midlands
  • Figures show local authorities in the region receive a complaint to fix a pothole every 6 minutes
  • West Midlands 5th most complained about region in the country

The Federation of Small Businesses is calling on local authorities in the West Midlands to use National Pothole Day to start getting to grips with the region’s broken roads.

The annual National Pothole Day takes place today (January 15th) with campaigners using it to highlight the blight of potholes on all sections of society – including small businesses.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has already revealed through Freedom of Information requests that local authorities in the West Midlands receive a complaint to fix a pothole every 6 minutes.

In total, more than £61m has been spent fixing damaged roads and holes in the region during 2018/19, down £4m from the previous year.

Just less than £175,000 has been paid out in compensation to claimants in the region who had their vehicles damaged last year. The figures revealed that just 31% of claims for vehicle damage were successful across the West Midlands, with the average pay out per claim equating to £218.

Potholes are a major blight on the nation’s roads. Small businesses rely heavily on the road network, with nine in 10 (89%) small firms considering the road network to be important for their staff, customers and trade deliveries.

FSB is calling for a number of measures to help improve road infrastructure across the country, including:

  • More funding for local authorities from central government to support planned regular maintenance programmes, and to help alleviate the pothole problem. Unless additional funding is provided, the road maintenance problem is likely to increase over time, meaning more will need to be spent on repairs and damage claims.
  • Better coordination is needed between utilities companies and local authorities when roads need to be dug up. The amount of time that utility companies are responsible for the road they have dug up should be extended from the current two to five years.
  • FSB also wants to see Government ensuring there is a simple system for both reporting potholes locally, as well as for submitting claims for damage to vehicles.
  • Local authorities should use innovative technology to monitor road condition to enable them to identify deteriorating roads, learning from trailblazer councils.

Sarah Windrum, FSB Policy Representative in the West Midlands, said: “I am urging local authorities to use National Pothole Day as a starter to fixing up our roads, with potholes a major concern for small businesses in the West Midlands.

“Our members in the region 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.  These are often vital assets to small firms, many of which are working without large capital reserves.

“These figures show just how widespread the issue is and how important National Pothole Day is as an initiative. it’s clear that governments, both national and in the West Midlands, 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 statistics reveal that the UK combined, the depth of the country’s 700,000 reported potholes over the last year, is around 28km – almost 15 times deeper than the Grand Canyon.

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