Press release

Potholes review - prevention and a better cure

The pothole review has been released giving advice to local authorities on tackling the problem of potholes.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Local authorities across England have been given advice on how to tackle the problem of potholes on their roads following the publication of a review commissioned by Local Transport Minister Norman Baker.

The Pothole review - part of the coalition government’s £6 million Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme - looks at how best to fix potholes once they have formed but also how to prevent them from appearing in the first place. The recommendations for central government, local highway authorities and the highways sector fall into 3 main themes:

  • prevention is better than cure - intervening at the right time will reduce the amount of potholes forming and prevent bigger problems later.
  • right first time - do it once and get it right, rather than face continuous bills.
  • clarity for the public - local highway authorities need to communicate to the public what is being done and how it is being done.

Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said:

We all know the misery that potholes can cause to highway users and local communities and the recent series of harsh winters has only served to intensify the situation.

We’ve given £3 billion to councils for road maintenance over the next four years but money can only go so far and the old adage rings true: prevention is indeed better than cure.

I would urge all those involved with highways maintenance, including councillors, chief executives, local highway practitioners, those in the utility sector and contractors to adopt the approaches set out in this report, not only to make real cost savings but also to provide a high quality service that both the road user and local residents deserve.

Today’s (10 April 2012) review investigates the issue of potholes from an engineering perspective plus explores the wider issues around potholes, including public expectations, the impact of long term maintenance strategies, decision making arrangements, the processes of reporting, prioritising and repairing, guidance and wider operational arrangements within local highways authorities.

Matthew Lugg, President of the Association of Directors of Economy, Environment, Planning and Transport, who led the ‘Pothole review’, said:

This review has focused on key principles and strategies to reduce potholes in the future. There are a number of key recommendations, which when implemented by the highway sector will lead to more effective outcomes for the highway users and the economy. I would encourage all parties to take on board the recommendations. I am thankful for the help and assistance that was provided by colleagues from both the public and private sector including key stakeholder organisations.

Notes to editors

The final report is available.

Today’s (10 April 2012) final report follows on from the progress report which was published through the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) in December 2011.

The ‘Pothole review’ has been carried out by the HMEP, which is a sector-led transformation programme to maximise returns from highways investment and deliver efficient and effective highway maintenance services. The programme is sponsored by the Department for Transport who is providing £6 million funding to provide the tools and opportunities to help the sector build on existing good practice and collaboration between public and private partners.

The key themes promoted by the programme are greater collaboration, adoption of asset management principles, benchmarking and performance and procurement, contracting and standardisation. HMEP will provide practical guidance on efficiencies that will be of interest to local authorities, supplier organisations and representative bodies.

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Published 10 April 2012