COUNCILS across the North East are doing their best to fix the potholes littering our roads - but can't repair them all unless the government is prepared to spend billions, according to the AA.
Figures requested by The Northern Echo under the Freedom of Information Act show that local authorities are repairing thousands of potholes each year, and spending thousands of pounds, but complaints from motorists about the state of the roads continue.
Each North-East council records data about pothole repairs and the money spent differently, but the figures show the scale of the task facing each authority.
Paul Watters, a spokesman for motoring organisation the AA, said potholes are not going away any time soon.
He added: “There is never enough in the budget for councils to catch up to its backlog and have its roads up to date.
“The government has given £140m for pothole repairs but that is a drop in the ocean.
“Councils are doing their best with what they’ve got. Unless there is long term investment with some meaningful money we are probably facing a decade of repairs.”
Durham County Council started recording potholes for the first time in April 2013 and by February this year had counted 12,363 potholes.
Terry Collins, corporate director of neighbourhood services, said: “It is acknowledged there is a significant backlog across the country and surveys in County Durham show we experience similar problems.
“The council has increased its investment in highways as it is recognised as a priority area for our residents.”
North Yorkshire County Council, with the largest highway network in the region, does not break down its statistics to record individual potholes.
The authority has set aside £5m for repairs and received £3.2m from the government.
Councillor Gareth Dadd, executive member for highways, said the authority was facing a repair bill running into hundreds of millions of pounds but that all funding was welcomed.
The smaller local authorities in the Tees Valley all report that they have recorded and repaired thousands of potholes since 2008/2009.
A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said maintaining the town’s road network was a priority but budget constraints meant not all roads and footpaths could be tackled, with substantial repairs prioritised.
Middlesbrough Council received £140,000 from the pothole repairs fund, which Councillor Nicky Walker, executive member for environment, described as “a drop in the ocean”.
She added: “With the additional funds we will be undertaking a combination of patching and drainage improvement work.”
Coun Walker’s comment was echoed by Coun Helen McLuckie, of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, who said:”When you consider the overall condition of the road network and the lack of funding in recent years, the amount available is a drop in the ocean to what is needed to repair all of the borough’s roads.”
Stockton and Hartlepool councils both said that highway repairs were a priority and that their budgets reflected the need for investment in the system.