Nottinghamshire County Council fixed almost 500,000 potholes over five years and has seen the number of annual repairs increase sharply since 2016, figures show.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the authority found 476,043 potholes were repaired across the county between 2016/17 and 2020/21, with 100,074 fixed in the most recent financial year.
This is a 64 per cent rise on the 61,063 repairs undertaken by the authority in 2016/17.
Figures show 2018/19 was the most prominent year for damaged roads, with 114,517 repairs completed in 12 months. A further 92,952 repairs were conducted in 2017/18 and 107,437 were made in 2019/20.
Roads in the Newark and Sherwood district were the most frequently visited by Via East Midlands, the council’s highways contractor, with 147,752 potholes repaired over five years.
The Muskham and Farnsfield division racked up the highest total by ward area, at 30,904, which is more than the 28,437 repairs conducted across the entire borough of Rushcliffe over the same five-year period.
There were a further 39,732 repairs in Broxtowe, 46,248 in Ashfield, 48,590 in Mansfield, 60,769 in Gedling and 104,515 in Bassetlaw between 2016 and March this year.
Councillor Bruce Laughton (Con), deputy leader of the authority, represents Muskham and Farnsfield, the ward with the most repaired potholes in Nottinghamshire.
He said: “One of the reasons why I’ve got more potholes than everybody else is because I’ve got more roads, it’s the second-largest rural division in the county.
“It’s an issue we work through with regular reporting, and the maintenance of potholes was a significant issue on the doorstep at the last election.
“Having more potholes than Rushcliffe comes as a huge surprise, but I have my parishes trained well and working all the time to feed information to Via East Midlands.
“We recognise it’s an issue right across the whole county, we’ve got to do something about it as there’s no doubt the electorate will hold us accountable if we don’t sort it out.”
The FOI also revealed the authority spent £21,426,727.42 on reactive pothole and patching repairs during the five-year period, equating to about £45 per job.
Analysis in the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) annual local authority maintenance survey found that, on average, pothole repairs conducted by councils in England in 2020/21 cost £55.90 per job.
Planned works cost about £41.68 on average, but this figure rose to £70.45 for reactive repairs.
The level of council spending has sparked alarm from opposition councillors, who describe the authority as doing repairs “on the cheap”.
Cllr Lee Waters (Ash Ind) represents Hucknall South in County Hall.
He said: “Unfortunately, because of strategic, political decisions taken by the county council, our workers have the reputation of dodgy, cowboy builders. These figures prove they are being forced to do jobs on the cheap.
“Let me be clear, I’m not criticising council workers here, nor the sub-contractors they use. It is the process they use to fix potholes.
“That’s why we have the worst roads in the country.”
The Conservative administration created its ongoing, cross-party highways panel as one of its first actions following May’s election victory.
The panel meets regularly and has since requested independent reviews be undertaken by both the Local Government Association and an independent consultant.
Members of the committee are currently looking to see whether different methods could be used to improve the way roads are repaired countywide.
Gary Wood, head of highways and transport on the council, said: “Since 2016, we have repaired over 476,000 defects including potholes to keep roads and pavements safe for the travelling public. But in addition to this, we have invested over £70 million in road resurfacing schemes throughout the county.
“We remain committed to ensuring the best value for money and the best standard of repairs to our highways.
“In May 2021, we announced we would be setting up a cross-party highways review panel to look at all aspects of our highways maintenance.
“This includes road inspections, improvement programmes and funding, maintenance treatments, and repair techniques.
“All our current repair techniques, including those used to fill potholes, are under review by our highways review panel.”
The council was asked how many potholes it repaired on more than one occasion during the five-year period, and how many requests were made to fix the same pothole following a previous repair job.
The authority could not provide this information but stated it finds the “failure rate is very low” for its repair jobs. It added many cases of potholes reappearing are “due to the existing material around the area where the initial pothole was repaired subsequently failing”.
However, Cllr Tom Hollis (Ash Ind), independent spokesperson on the transport and environment committee, questioned the council’s response.
He said: “We find it very hard to believe the council doesn’t hold the figures for revisiting potholes. We’ve asked for this on multiple occasions and been told this data is unavailable.
The data did, however, reveal the number of general requests for pothole repairs countywide has been on a gradual rise since 2016.
A total of 9,990 requests were made to the authority in 2016/17, rising to 13,011 in 2017/18. By March this year, it rose to 14,875 over 12 months.
In total, 63,693 requests were made for potholes to be repaired over the five-year period, with Newark and Sherwood again at the top of the list with 13,095.
A further 10,995 requests were issued in Ashfield, with Rushcliffe residents requesting slightly fewer at 10,079.
Broxtowe residents made 9,391 requests, with 8,101 in Gedling, 6,568 in Bassetlaw and 5,464 in Mansfield.
The outcome of the cross-party highways panel is expected to be reported to the transport and environment committee in the coming months, outlining what the authority will do to fix what councillors describe as its “broken roads”.