The soaring cost of South Yorkshire’s potholes

Potholes on Archer Road, Sheffield
Potholes on Archer Road, Sheffield
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SOUTH Yorkshire’s four councils have paid out almost £300,000 in compensation to motorists whose cars were damaged by potholes during the present financial year.

Figures for the first 10 months of 2010/11 show Rotherham Council paid out £183,417, Doncaster £101,349, Barnsley £8,241 and Sheffield £3,236.

Rotherham Council’s total compensation payments to motorists over the last two years amount to £550,000.

Coun Gerald Smith, cabinet member responsible for regeneration and the environment, said: “The overall condition of Rotherham’s highway network has deteriorated over recent years.

“This trend is likely to continue, given the anticipated level of funding that is likely to be available,” he warned.

The council’s highways budget was almost halved in 2010/11 from the previous year, to £5.8 million.

Sheffield increased its highways maintenance budget from £2.1m to £2.5m this year and plans to spend the same sum in 2011/12 despite the council’s spending cuts.

The council has 14 teams which patch potholes.

But permanent resurfacing will only be carried out when the £674m highways private finance contract is approved.

Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for communities Coun Shaffaq Mohammed said: “We know people are not satisfied with the roads, but they wouldn’t be satisfied if we did nothing either.”

Compensation payouts in Doncaster rose from £42,500 in 2009/10 to £101,349 so far in 2010/11.

The council spends £2.4m on repairs.

Barnsley Council usually spends £3.5m on highway maintenance but added an extra £2m to tackle potholes left from winter 2009/10. Bbut the last winter has left a further £300,000 of repairs.

UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom has sent a letter to council bosses urging them to increase repair budgets.

He said: “More money needs to be directed at potholes. It’s only a matter of time before there’s a death.

“People are swerving to avoid them and some are on blind bends.”