WINTER'S LEGACY: OUR PITTED STREETS

Some of streets in Chelsea and Westminster are as pock-marked as the Moon. Tim Harrison reports on the aftermath of the long, cold winter

The bad news is that after the long, long winter many of the streets in Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster have craters from the effect of frost on tarmac.

The good news is that the local councils are gradually filling in the potholes… but they need residents’ help reporting the worst examples.

Potholes force cars to slalom down streets, and put cyclists and scooter riders at risk.

Last month, the latest council tax bills thudded on to doormats, with road maintenance one of the key services which your direct debit funds.

If you live in K&C borough, visit www.rbkc.gov.uk/environmentalservices/faultreports and click on ‘potholes’. If you tick the box towards the end of the report file, the council will keep you informed about how long repairs will take.

Alternatively you can ring K&C’s streetline on 020 7361 3001.

If you are across the boundary in Westminster, pothole reporting involves a lot more online clicking, but if you go to www.westminster.gov.uk/services/transportandstreets you will eventually reach the right place to leave the information.

Westminster says it has 420 miles of footpaths alone, but it will accept reports of potholes if you call 020 7641 2000.

In the long term, councils are weighing up the viability of laying more expensive, but longer-lasting, ‘pothole-free’ surfaces, which come with a 10-year guarantee of crack resistance.

Research published last week by the Institute of Advanced Motorists shows potholes top councillors’ road safety priority list.

Seventy-four per cent of those surveyed placed potholes in their top five road-safety priorities, although 61 per cent feared that budgets for repairing them would decrease or stay the same.

Among other findings, 59 per cent of councillors support 20mph speed limits, with 15 per cent supporting 20mph for most urban roads.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “It’s good to see that potholes are councillors’ top priority as this is a big concern. More must be done to fix our roads before the backlog of repairs becomes unmanageable.”

Meanwhile AA research suggests 18 million motorists have spotted potholes in the past month… but have failed to report them. Drivers who have reported potholes on UK roads are outnumbered three to one by those who would if they knew how.

As the law stands, highway authorities must be aware of significant potholes and have taken no action before drivers stand any chance of winning a claim for vehicle damage.

An AA survey of 21,874 members suggests authorities would be hit much harder by pothole reports and compensation claims if drivers reported more.

Edmund King, the AA president, said: “Obviously, it only takes one driver to report a pothole and get it logged. Councils keep an eye on the condition of their roads, but if drivers reported more potholes there would be more likelihood of action being taken as highway authorities become liable.”

TIM HARRISON

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