Call to pilot ‘360 degree’ pothole repair approach in East Sussex

A highways crew fixing potholes in East Sussex
A highways crew fixing potholes in East Sussex

A group of councillors have called on East Sussex County Council to look again at how it deals with pothole repairs.

The call comes as part of a series of recommendations made in a review board report, which was considered by the council’s place scrutiny committee on Tuesday (March 19).

In their report, the review board recommends the council set up a pilot scheme where all potholes in an area are repaired at the same time – rather than on a case-by-case basis.

Currently, the council takes a ‘reactive’ approach to its road repairs, where a pothole must be below a certain depth before any work takes place.

According to the review board, this can lead to situations where one or two of the worst potholes in an area are repaired, while other potholes are left to get worse nearby.

The report said: “Undertaking reactive pothole repairs enables the council to meet its statutory duty to maintain the highway in a safe condition.

“However, it is evident that members of the public do not understand why the Council does not repair all adjacent potholes at the same time.

“A wider ‘360 degree’ repair approach, coupled with better communicating the council’s approach to repairs to the public, may provide an answer to councillors and local people’s concerns about the current approach to repairing potholes.”

But the report also warns there may be drawbacks to such an approach, saying officers had raised concerns as the council is required to deal with serious potholes within a short timeframe.

The legal time limit for repairs coupled with tight budgets could prevent it from being pursued across the whole county, the report said.

Despite these concerns, the review board recommended piloting the scheme, for all but the most urgent repairs, to test whether it would be feasible on a larger scale.

While given the backing of the committee, any decision on whether to launch the pilot scheme will need to be made through a full council vote.

The report also makes a number of recommendations for how the council maintains its pavements.  

These include: looking at how different types of pavement are checked for defects; preventing parking on pavements and verges; and finding additional funding for pavement repairs.

It also recommends the council increases the number of inspections it carries out, to ensure road repairs are being carried out correctly.

All the recommendations will go forward to full council following discussion by cabinet in the near future.