Wales

Potholes 'more noticeable in Wales than in England'

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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