Potholes 'more noticeable in Wales than in England'

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said £7m extra assembly government cash, announced last month, would help

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Drivers in Wales will be more likely to suffer from potholes than drivers in England, says a motoring organisation.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said Welsh drivers rely more heavily on main or 'A' roads maintained by local authorities.

As councils are facing budget cutbacks the result would be poorly maintained roads, claimed the IAM.

The Welsh Local Government Association said £7m extra assembly government cash, announced last month, would help.

In England, main or 'A' roads tend to be dual carriageways and are maintained by the Highways Agency, said the IAM.

But many main or 'A' roads throughout Wales are single carriageway and so maintenance is the responsibility of cash strapped local councils.

And the number of potholes on Welsh roads has been exacerbated by the snow and ice that hit Wales in December.

"More people on their regular commute will suffer worse pothole problems in Wales," said Tim Shallcross, the IAM's spokesman in Wales.

"There is a greater number of roads in Wales that are rural, single carriageway roads, maintained by local authorities.

"If a road is poorly maintained, then it is not waterproof and when water gets into cracks and freezes it expands, causing even bigger cracks."

After the cold snap that gripped the UK throughout December the effect of snow and ice on the roads is obvious for motorists to see and feel, Mr Shallcross warned.

Quick fix

He said preventative road maintenance is needed to properly address the problem, rather than short-term quick fixes.

"A couple of years ago, Newport Council made an enlightened decision to invest in preventative road repair and it paid off as they came top of a road industry survey of the best roads in the UK."

He advised motorists negotiating potholes firstly "to be aware of them, particularly on rural roads"

"And in wet weather be particularly aware of driving through what looks like a puddle, it could in fact be masking a pothole three or four inches deep.

"Driving through potholes commonly has the effect of throwing out your tracking or steering alignment.

"This is a problem as if your tracking is out then it can lead to your tyres becoming worn down unevenly which will end up costing you money in the long run.

"So if you've driven through a few potholes it is worth going to a garage and getting your tracking checked. It normally costs around £15-£20.

Swallowed

"It's also worth checking that your wheel rims aren't buckled," he said.

In December, the assembly government announced an extra £7m to be shared among Wales' 22 councils for pothole repair and gritting.

Mr Shallcross said he welcomed the cash but hoped it had not been swallowed up in buying extra grit during the snow.

The extra £7m came after the assembly government announced a 90% drop in the money they give to local authories for improving and maintaining local roads - from £68m this year to just £6m by 2013/14.

Announcing the extra funds, which must be spent by April, Local Government Minister Carl Sergeant said he was aware last winter's severe weather had left a "legacy" of potholes.

The funds were welcomed by the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA).

Tim Peppin, WLGA's environment director, said: "Over the last few years bad weather and severe periods of freezing conditions have caused significant damage to roads across Wales, a cost which local authorities predict runs into the millions.

"This extra funding will go some way to help with the cost of the urgent repair work that is needed and, importantly, not put any further burden on councils at a time when they are already facing huge financial pressures."

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It may well take 15 years if left to the local highways authority, but what about ensuring that the public utility companies such as gas, water and electricity give a proper guarantee to their work and get them to rectify shoddy work.

John Marsh, Wales

If Wales has a second tier roads plan why does the government expect Welsh drivers to pay for Tier 1 service in the form of Vehicle Excise each year?

Dave Morgan, Blackwood

Ceredigion council in their wisdom performed a long overdue re-surface of the roads leading to the village I live at...right before the predicted freeze. Now we have potholes all the way down the road of various sizes and depths. Only 4 weeks after the work was completed. I just hope they spend some of their share of the money on repairing the road they have only just layed.

Jon Davies, Aberystwyth

Potholes are not limited to A roads in Wales, try the M4 between J33 and 34, the middle and outer lane are full of massive ruts which throw out your steering. It's been like that since LAST winter!

Alex Pepper, Bridgend

I can confirm the potholes in this area are pretty bad! Contrary to this report, the worst road I use is the main dual carriageway running around Cardiff. The stretch around the hospital is atrocious, the same every year, due to temporary fixes. My wife's a nurse, I drive down here most days, and know the potholes well- if a police officer saw my weaving around the road to avoid the holes, they'd think I was a drunk driver!

Jeff, Cardiff

The pot holes across Neath are nothing short of shocking. Me and my wife were commenting this morning that on our 2 mile route to work there are pot holes so bad half our wheel disappears down them. Would the local authority prefer us to sue them for damages?

Leighton Williams, Neath

Dave Morgan, Blackwood wrote: "If Wales has a second tier roads plan why does the government expect Welsh drivers to pay for Tier 1 service in the form of Vehicle Excise [duty]" Because, as the article says, roads are maintained by the local authority, i.e. out of council tax. And council tax in Wales is relatively low.

S Thomas, Wrexham

I have recently returned from a holiday in New Zealand. It is summer there and many roads were being "re-sealed", ie. bitumen and chippings. This used to happen here many years ago but successive governments chose to repair on the cheap. New Zealand is nowhere as wealthy as us yet their roads are a credit to them. It proves how useless our politicians are, they are more interested in trying to look important on the world stage than getting down to the basics that affect us on a daily basis. I hope people remember this when next asked for their vote or when facing yet another bill for damage to their vehicle.

Keith Rogers, Merthyr Tydfil

Plenty of potholes on my morning commute (mostly A467) and they are all in the exact same places as last year. To me this implies that they did not fix them properly and now we are going to be paying twice to fix each hole, and quite possibly end up paying again in a year's time.

Stuart, Blackwood

You regularly see speed camera vans on the A48 between Pont Abraham and Carmarthen, which we all know are there solely as a money-making scam. Why can't that money be used for road maintenance instead of lining the pockets of the Treasury?

James Hartman, Carmarthen

Every year we pay our road tax (which is supposed to be used for maintaining the roads) where is the money going?

Kevin Carter, Maesteg

I now live in Suffolk, after living most of my life in rural Wales and can definitely say the roads in Wales are far superior to those over here. I also spend quite a lot of time in Surrey and the potholes there are terrible too! It would appear that the whole of the UK is pretty bad.

Joe W, Diss

I live in Blaenau Gwent, which has some of the most poorly maintained roads in the UK. The council does not undertake any preventative road maintenace from what I can see. The patch repairs that are made are shoddy, and begin to become holes again within weeks of being undertaken. It is a running joke in Abertillery that any overdue pregnant woman should be driven through Gladstone Street, so that the potholes can shake the baby free. It's not quite so funny when you realise that Gladstone Street is the main road and bus route through the town. Britons pay some of the highest rates of vehicle-related taxes in the world for a road system that would be the shame of a third world country.

Sharon, Abertillery

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