Hundreds of potholes fixed in North East a week

Pothole in Hexham In Northumberland about 200 motorists are suing the council for damage to their cars

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Hundreds of potholes are having to be repaired every week across the North East, BBC research has found.

Northumberland County Council is having to repair holes at a rate of 800 a week, and has more than 200 vehicle damage claims pending from motorists.

Newcastle Council has spent £200,000 fixing 2,500 potholes this winter.

And in North Tyneside, 1,700 holes have been repaired. However, councils in Northumberland and Tyneside said they were coping with the cost.

Council authorities revealed how much damage had been caused to the region's roads after one of the harshest winters on record.

They were responding to requests from the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act.

Liberal Democrat-run Newcastle Council said it had invested an extra £18m in roads in the past seven years.

It said "prudent" financial planning had helped it "keep pace" with the upkeep of roads.

Vehicle damage

A spokesman said: "We are working with a relatively new pothole repair product which is proving to be a successful in making repairs last longer.

"By making our pothole repairs last longer, we will be able to carry out a planned patching programme of works over the coming summer months."

During the previous winter the council repaired 13,500 potholes at an approximate cost of £1m.

For the financial year 2009-10, Labour-run Gateshead Council set aside £930,000 for road repairs but actually spent £1.4m.

In that year it also had to pay out more than £1,000 in pothole damage compensation claims - compared to £100 the previous year.

Specialist contractors have been brought in to deal with the extra workload across Northumberland County Council's 3,100 miles (5,000km) of roads.

Road Ahead

Last year, the authority, which is run by a Liberal Democrat minority administration, repaired 19,000 potholes between February and May.

From April to December last year, it spent £5.8m on road repairs, but has set aside a further £3m for further repairs needed.

Richard Hayes, the council's highways north area maintenance manager, said the money would stretch to repairing 75% of main and secondary routes.

But he said more money would be needed to tackle damage to more rural roads and the council would be applying to the government for more funds.

He said: "A lot of the damage to roads can only be assessed when it has warmed up and more potholes appear.

"We are seeing the superficial damage which we can repair, but we need to assess the damage which is deeper under the surface."

After the snowy weather of 2009-10, the council paid out more than £47,000 in compensation - mainly to motorists whose cars had been damaged.

Mr Hayes said the council was expecting to pay out a similar figure this year with about 200 claims pending.

Last week, the government said it would be putting aside £100m for councils to bid for if they felt they had been badly hit by potholes.

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