Councils slowest to repair serious potholes revealed - with some taking up to three days to fix severe road problems

18 January 2019

Some councils set targets of days to fix potholes, while the number and size of road problems is increasing across the UK, putting both motorists and cyclists at risk.

While the quickest-acting councils in Britain aim to fill in the most severe potholes in their roads within minutes, others are taking days to respond.

Leicestershire has the slowest response time for severe pothole repairs, aiming to respond within three days.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly both aim for 48 hours, while Bournemouth aims for 36 hours.

RAC Foundation obtained data on response times from a Freedom of Information request sent to councils in September 2018. 

Cumbria, Flintshire and South Lanarkshire aim to act immediately to repair the most dangerous potholes.

Harrow Council sets a target repair time of half an hour.

A further 16 councils aim to patch things up within an hour, and five within 90 minutes.

The most common response time to the most urgent problems is two hours, with 79 councils looking to patch up the road within this period.

Martin Tett, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, explains that priority is given to repairing potholes that pose the greatest risk, and is assessed by size and location.

He adds: “Keeping roads safe for all users is one of the most important jobs councils do and is reflected in the fact that local authorities are fixing a pothole every 21 seconds."

Councils with the quickest response times to severe potholes
ImmediatelyFlintshire, Cumbria and South Lanarkshire
30 minutesHarrow
One hourSlough, Walsall, Sheffield, Rochdale, Bracknell Forest, Hartlepool, Warwickshire, Swindon, Worcestershire, Derby, Ealing, Bexley, Birmingham, Wirral and Stoke on Trent

Source: RAC Foundation

Councils with the slowest response times to severe potholes
72 hoursLeicestershire
48 hoursCornwall, Isles of Scilly
36 hoursBournemouth
34 hoursYork

Source: RAC Foundation

Pothole causes

Potholes are caused when moisture gets into the cracks in the road which expands when it freezes.

According to the RAC, more than half a million potholes were reported to local authorities by the public in 2017.

The analysis by the RAC Foundation shows that local highway authorities across the country are increasingly adopting  a 'risk-based approach' to fixing road defects.

Response times to the most serious defects are influenced by how many miles of road a council has to manage and the geographical size of the council area.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, says: “It is understandable that large rural authorities set themselves longer response times, simply as a result of having to travel further to effect repairs, but motorists might still be surprised to see such a wide variation across the country.

“Those particularly vulnerable to potholes – cyclists and motorcyclists – might ask whether the speed of pothole investigation should be based solely on the risk to users.”

More funding

It was announced in the 2018 Budget that local authorities will receive an extra £420 million to help tackle potholes on British roads.

Potholes can not only make a journey highly uncomfortable but can also damage vehicles.

The RAC reports that between April and June 2018, it was called out 4,091 times for damage to shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels.

If your car has been damaged by a pothole you can claim compensation from your local council.

Motorists can also report potholes and other damage to road surfaces to the RAC.

How to report a pothole

The RAC has encouraged people to report potholes to local authorities in order to ensure councils and local government identify and tackles problem roads.

Where you report a pothole depends on where you found it. If the pothole is on an A road or motorway in England, you'll have to contact them at or 0300 123 5000 (24 hours).

If you found the pothole on a local road, you'll need to contact the council responsible for maintaining the road. To find the contact details of the council you'll need to speak to, use the government tool:

Enter your postcode in the tool to find the relevant authority's contact information or website.


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

You mean some councils actually repair pot holes! Gosh, that is a shock! I thought they ignored them until the stretch of road needed resurfacing.

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