Companies that are responsible for the “pothole plague” should be punished more lightly

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The ‘pothole plague’ is being tackled in new government measures created to penalize companies responsible for damaging roads after they carry out roadworks. The Department for Transport (DfT) said utilities are more likely to face fines for poor roadwork and potholing.

There is hope that the new law change could prevent thousands of potholes left by utilities and ensure more roads are restored to high standards. According to the DfT, this saves motorists expensive repairs such as damage to car tires or wheel suspensions caused by driving over potholes.

A new performance-based inspection system will be introduced, resulting in penalties for the worst-performing utilities whose roadwork does not meet strict standards. The DfT said these companies will be inspected more frequently by local authorities to ensure their work meets strict criteria and leaves roads in good condition.

Utilities fail an average of 9% of inspections conducted, and the worst-performing utility fails a significant 63% of its inspections, the department said, adding that the majority of companies perform high-level roadwork and pass audits. The DfT said the plans will also help accelerate broadband rollouts across the country by making exceptions to restrictions on works for new customer connections.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The plague of potholes threatens our roads. That’s why I make sure that companies that build them and leave roads in poor condition can be held more accountable – and protect drivers from unfair repair costs.”

Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh MP said: “The shameless Transport Secretary is trying to claim credit for solving the problem he helped create. In the past year alone, the Tories have cut funding to repair our crumbling roads by enough to fill 12 million potholes.”

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