POTHOLES in Stockton’s roads are costing motorists in the town £1.9m a year in repairs, it is claimed.

Halfords Autocentre made the calculation taking the Stockton figure as a fraction from across the North and argued the problem is getting worse.

However Stockton Borough Council disputes Halfords' figures - saying there were indications there had actually been fewer reports of potholes in recent years.

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Halfords argued the number of potholes reported to councils across the country had increased by 18 per cent in the last year, according to motoring and cycling websites monitoring the issue.

The company said it has statistics showing 294,000 vehicles in the northern region had suffered steering or suspension damage as a result of potholes over the past year, with Stockton accounting for around four per cent of these.

The average bill for repairing car damage caused by road craters is £140, the company said.

Christopher Hill, manager at Halfords Autocentre in Stockton, said: “The surface of our roads is deteriorating to the point where drivers are now likely to encounter a potentially damaging pothole during most journeys, with rain-filled holes being harder to see and avoid.

“In a new car a small pothole can damage wheels, tyres and shock absorbers but with large numbers of drivers keeping their cars for longer and cutting back on routine maintenance older, less well maintained cars are even more vulnerable.”

However Mike Smith, cabinet member for regeneration and transport, said that in fact the council had received fewer reports of road damage in 2013/14 compared to 2012/13.

A council spokeswoman said it was difficult to come up with exact figures because the authority deals with damage to square footage of road and doesn’t collate details about each pot hole.

Coun Smith said: “We have a carefully planned and very successful policy of maintaining our highways network, which includes repairing pot holes. We know that this issue is one of concern to our residents which is why the council’s budget for the forthcoming year includes a multi-million investment in infrastructure across the borough which includes additional work to improve roads and footpaths.”

Estimates from the Asphalt Industry Alliance suggest there are two million craters on all roads throughout the UK.