A highways boss says the demand for pothole repairs in Kent has “virtually disappeared” despite concerns raised by councillors.
Kent County Council’s (KCC) cabinet member for transport, Cllr David Brazier (Con), says roads are in “much better condition” than they have ever been during his 25 years on the council.
Cllr David Brazier (Con) says the county's roads are in a better condition than they have ever been in his 25 years as a county councillor. Picture: Wayne McCabe
It comes as government funding totalling £27 million has been cut from KCC’s highways budget from April 2022 to March 2025 – the equivalent of £9m a year – meaning less money will be available to carry out pothole repairs.
Cllr Brazier expressed confidence it would not affect the service provided by KCC.
He said: “Remembering the late 1990s, there were many phone calls about potholes and damaged motor cars.
“Over the years, that kind of correspondence has virtually disappeared.”
Instead, pledges have been made to spend £21m in a “pothole blitz” over the next three years.
KCC's roads boss says the county's roads are in a better condition than they've been for years
Cllr Mike Baldock, of the Swale Independent Alliance, who represents Swale West on KCC, described the £7m-a-year pothole repair package as “one of the most expensive sticking plasters” to resolve the issue.
He said: “It reflects years of underinvestment in our roads and failure to give the officers adequate money for maintenance.”
KCC’s shadow cabinet member for transport, Cllr Barry Lewis (Lab) said: “What worries me is the £9m reduction.
“I do not want to go around saying to people ‘that pothole is down to Boris Johnson’.”
Tens of thousands of potholes are repaired each year on Kent’s roads.
The depth of a pothole near Hythe that was hit by at least five drivers is demonstrated
Five drivers broke down at the same time after hitting a 3ft pothole on Hythe Hill, near Pedlinge, Hythe, in January.
But despite drivers completing billions of miles in journeys in Kent every year, there has been a reduction in the number of reported faults to KCC over the last five years.
Reports of potholes have dropped from from a peak of 4,500 monthly inquiries in March 2018 to less than 2,000 in March 2022.
Herne Bay county councillor Dan Watkins (Con) said it was a “great result” that the “winter demand rate” had significantly reduced.
Cllr Brazier added: “The highways are in much better condition than they have been for many years.
“Part of the reason is because we have the pothole blitz.”
Kent Politics Transport Ciaran Duggan, local democracy reporter