Potholes: tackling a legacy of underinvestment - new briefing paper launched today

31st March, 2019
The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) has launched its advice note on potholes.

‘Potholes – a Repair Guide'was commissioned by the Department of Transport following the intense weather of the 2017/18 winter, which caused more potholes to appear on Britain’s roads than previously seen before, and generating increasing pressures on local highways authorities.

Those additional pressures meant that local authorities had to prioritise how they best utilised their skilled but limited resources. Many were forced to compromise by prioritising gritting over filling in potholes or vice-versa to keep the road network safe and moving.

ADEPT believes that local authorities should adopt a ‘prevention is better than cure’ principle when aiming to improve the resilience of the highways and minimise the occurrence of potholes from the outset.

However, the current situation for many local authorities is that the condition of the road network is now far beyond the point where preventative maintenance techniques alone will suffice with the current level of funding available.

The increasing amount of potholes seen today can be attributed to the result of failing roads, arising from the cumulative impact of years of under investment in highway maintenance.

Going forward, a risked-based approach through the Well-Managed Highways Infrastructure Code of Practice by the UK Roads Liaison Group should be implemented by each authority for highways maintenance and should be tailored to the needs, demands and risks facing that individual local authority.

ADEPT President Neil Gibson said: “The increase in potholes on today’s roads is the consequence of years of under investment. There needs to be a change in approach and focus on preventing potholes from the outset.

“Local authorities should adopt permanent repairs as their first position; temporary repairs should only be used when safety cannot be guaranteed or in emergency circumstances.

“It should be an aspiration for any local highway authority to maximise the proportion of first-time repairs to garner long-term resilience for our highways.”

To download a copy of the guide and for more information on ADEPT, visit