A fortnight ago, driving out of West Chiltington after opening their new sports pavilion, I hit a pothole which burst my front tyre.
£125 later, and having had to write a letter of apology for being late for my next appointment, I returned to survey the small crater in the road, wondering how many of my constituents had suffered the same fate.
I have a good idea. A number of furious residents have contacted me about the damage caused to their cars. Nationally, potholes cost motorists an estimated £2.8 billion a year, and you could fit well over 59,000 Ford Focuses into the holes.
The very wet winter has made the situation even worse. Nearly a quarter of unclassified rural and residential roads in West Sussex are now in need of repair.
Three years ago, over 600 people claimed for damage to their cars, and the Council had to pay out £35,000 in total. By last year the number of claimants had nearly doubled.
The cost could be greater. According to a recent YouGov survey, although 16 per cent of road users had experienced pothole damage, only 7 per cent made claims against their council.
Fortunately, action is being taken. Last week the Government allocated the shares of a new £168 million pothole fund announced in the Budget. West Sussex will receive an extra £2.5 million. It is anticipated – depending on the weather – that between 20,000 and 30,000 extra potholes will be repaired by April next year thanks to the grant.
This is in addition to money given from the emergency fund after the extreme winter weather. This means that West Sussex has received a total of £6 million in additional funding for potholes for the next year.
The Council says that it is now filling more than 150 potholes a day across West Sussex with 12 full time gangs and 3 pothole patrols. It’s also possible to report potholes online, via the Love West Sussex website (http://love.westsussex.gov.uk/reports).
In addition, the County Council has announced a £30 million Better Roads programme which aims to improve the condition of rural and residential roads over the next two years.
This is all welcome action and investment by the Government and the County Council. Potholes are expensive for motorists and the Council, and downright dangerous for cyclists. It’s high time they were filled in.
If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.