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Reporting Potholes - Action For The Crater Good.

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Reporting Potholes - Action For The Crater Good.

Geoff Maxted
December 24, 2013

Great news! The Government has given £30,000 of your money to back the development of an innovative smartphone application to report potholes, according to Roads Minister Robert Goodwill. The Department for Transport (DfT) has pledged the cash to enable the Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC), the national cycling charity, to revamp its ‘Fill That Hole' website and develop a new app compatible with smartphones running Android software.

Over 9 million iPhone users can download the website's current app to report potholed roads to their councils; the new app could boost that figure to over 26 million and is expected to be ready in February, at the start of ‘pothole season' when the winter damage to roads is at its greatest.

The Minister insists that the Government is serious about tackling potholes. As we all know, they are at best an irritation but at worst they can damage vehicles and pose a serious danger to cyclists and other road users.

By backing this app Westminster want people to tell councils where to find the craters so they can fill them in. This app means more people are going to be able to report potholes more easily. Fantastic - but telling them is one thing, actually getting some action is entirely another. The state of our roads is especially galling given the recent news reported by the Beeb that councils have made - in one year - £594million ‘profit’ from parking activities. That could fund a lot of road repairs.

Filling potholes in quickly is only one half of the story. Research has also shown (and most motorists have known this for years) that a long-term approach to road maintenance, rather than patch and mend, can save councils and taxpayers money and potentially save lives thanks to better road conditions.

CTC originally developed its app for cyclists, who, understandably, can receive life-changing injuries from accidents caused by potholes, but it is now used by all types of road user, from delivery drivers to motorists concerned about potential and cripplingly expensive damage to their vehicle.

The app apparently sends local authorities up-to-the-minute information about potholes which the council may not otherwise know about, allowing them to identify trouble spots needing action fast. The really daft thing is that in the past year around £23.8m was paid in compensation by local authorities across England due to the poor condition of their roads. That too is a lot of repairs. If the roads were correctly maintained there would be no need for litigation.

The support for the app comes as more local authorities adopt new Government guidelines which urge councils to plan extensive maintenance well in advance, rather than years of costly ‘patching' as potholes appear - saving the taxpayer money in the long-term. We live in hope

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