MOTORISTS complained about more than 100,000 potholes across the North-East last year – the highest number of complaints of any region.

An investigation into the state of the country’s roads found, in total, 103,585 complaints were made about potholes in 2018-19 to North authorities, which spent £29,932,910 fixing them.

Councils also paid out £72,975 in compensation to road users whose vehicles were damaged because of potholes. Nationally the average pay-out was £255.

Figures obtained using Freedom of Information requests, showed that councils across the country receive a complaint about potholes every 46 seconds – 700,000 across England over the 12 month period.

The North-East had more complaints than any other region and spent the least on road repairs.

The bulk of them were made in the Northumberland County Council area, but Durham County Council was above average, with 31,414 complaints, which was an increase from the previous year’s 25,578. Durham County Council spent £1.4m on fixing the county’s roads, up from £1.043m the previous year.

Stockton Borough Council and Redcar and Cleveland Council both saw a slight increase from 799 to 1,322 and 770 to 919 complaints respectively.

Darlington and Hartlepool were the only councils to see pothole complaints decrease. Darlington recorded 1,545 – down from 1,839 and Hartlepool saw a slight decrease from 497 to 451.

No figures were provided by Middlesbrough council.

As the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) released the findings, it said the road network is vital for small businesses for supply and employees.

Richard Askew, FSB North East policy representative, said: “Poorly looked-after roads peppered with holes and cracks not only hamper their ability to do business, but lead to damaged vehicles, which are often vital assets to small firms often working without large capital reserves.”

Brian Buckley, Durham County Council’s strategic highways manager, said: “The number of complaints we get about potholes and damage to carriageways needs to be considered in the context of us being the biggest council in the North East and the seventh largest in the country, with a road network of nearly 4,000km.

“The increase in number of complaints from 2017/18 to 2018/2019 can be attributed to the severe winter weather we experienced last financial year, which inevitably led to a rise in the number of potholes and roads being damaged.

“We do also ask people to report potholes and other defects to us to allow us to repair them as soon as we can.

“The figures quoted for our spend on road repairs relate only to those carried out to potholes and other minor carriageway defects, as a result of safety inspections. The 2018/19 figure was in addition to the £12m we spent on programmed highway resurfacing in that financial year.”

A spokesperson for Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council said “it operates a robust highway inspection regime, any safety or critical defects are prioritised and dealt with as a matter of urgency." This "includes extensive investment in schemes which will deal with road network condition across the borough".

Nationally, almost £1bn has been spent fixing damaged roads and potholes in 2018/19, a figure which is similar to the previous year.

On the back of the results, the FSB is now calling for changes to improve infrastructure across the regions including more funding for local authorities, better co-ordination between utilities companies, a simple system for both reporting potholes and innovative technology to monitor road condition.

All councils except for Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Gateshead upped spending on road repairs, with Redcar forking out the most out of the local councils at £4.3m and with Darlington spending the least with £554,308.