Dangerous potholes risking motorists’ and cyclists’ safety on roads in East Devon has prompted the county council to come under fire from the MP for Tiverton and Honiton.
A Devon MP has written to the county council’s chief executive to complain about the state of local roads, writes local democracy reporter Ollie Heptinstall.
Safety fears have been raised over the size of potholes on the road between Honiton and Dunkeswell, East Devon, and Black Cat junction on the A396 – some deemed as ‘incredibly dangerous’, forcing motorists to swerve to avoid the defects.
In his letter to Donna Manson at Devon County Council, Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord says his postbag “has been flooded in recent weeks with residents concerned about the state of the roads across my Tiverton & Honiton constituency, and around the county.”
Mr Foord outlined how, in many cases, potholes and defects are “incredibly dangerous for both motorists and pedestrians, with drivers often having to swerve sharply to avoid damage to their vehicles.
“This is especially true on the road between Honiton and Dunkeswell, and Black Cat junction on the A396.”
In the first 20 days of January, the council recorded more potholes than in the whole of January 2022, with Mr Foord adding: “There has also been a series of diversions caused by these potholes and other safety defects, causing huge disruption to communities and commuters.”
“I appreciate that we can never totally eradicate potholes, but with the council paying out tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to compensate drivers for damage caused by the poor state of our roads it’s clear we need to ensure that when these problems do emerge, they are tackled quickly.”
A spokesman for Devon County Council said: “We thank Richard Foord for his letter and will respond to him directly.
“We have just experienced a winter of prolonged freezing weather followed by very wet spells – the worst combination for our roads – which has had a significantly detrimental effect on the condition of our 8,000 mile road network.
“To tackle this over the past few months we have doubled the number of pothole gangs, introduced weekend working and extended working hours across the network. This resulted in up to 2,200 potholes being repaired each week.”
A report in March said the number of recorded potholes in Devon is on track to be lower than the previous financial year.
However, the council also said its road network faces an “inevitable decline” because of a lack of funding. A new highways management plan details how current investment means the worsening condition of some roads is “unavoidable.”
It hopes that A and B roads can be maintained in their current condition, but minor roads will be allowed to “gradually deteriorate,” while unclassified roads will get “minimal maintenance.”