Driving in Wigan seems to have become a much smoother affair but new research suggests the picture on tackling potholes is rather mixed.
The GM Pothole Survey carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found there were just 1,820 objections to holes in the road or damage to the carriageway in the borough in 2017-18, the second-lowest figure in the region.
Intriguingly, though, the total number of complaints was actually higher than it was in 2016-17, when there were 1,326 recorded issues.
It is also the highest figure recorded in the borough for the past four financial years.
However, data suggests that complaints in virtually every other borough in Greater Manchester are both more numerous and going up more rapidly.
Wigan’s spending on road repairs during the 12-month period was also the fourth-lowest in Greater Manchester, at £992,200.
The statistics suggest the council’s previous efforts to combat waves of complaints about the state of the borough’s roads, including ploughing in a massive £2.8m in 2016-17, could be bearing fruit.
The council said the situation is even better than the figures suggest, with further investment planned for carriageway resurfacing and preventing holes developing in the first place.
Mark Tilley, assistant director for infrastructure and regulatory services, said: “We’re committed to maintaining a quality road network for residents and visitors to the borough so they’re able to easily and conveniently get around.
“We have also invested a further £1.75m on planned carriageway resurfacing and preventative measures, along with £500,000 pledged by the leader of the council in March to repair the borough’s roads.
“Despite our roads historically being assessed as some of the best in the country, last winter we saw an increase in potholes due to the extreme wet and cold weather.
“To tackle this we have increased the number of staff carrying out highway repairs so we can repair them as quickly as possible and keep our roads in good condition. This is in addition to our annual programme of highway maintenance.
“We also provide a ReportIT service where residents can use a mobile app or go to our website to report potholes and other environmental issues.
“The service sends the report to the appropriate team with a location, providing the residents’ GPS is switched on, meaning we’re able to get out and make the necessary repairs as efficiently as possible.”
The FSB’s data reveals the number of claims put in by furious motorists for damaged vehicles is also rising rapidly in Wigan, with 183 in 2017-18 compared to 85 in 2016-17.
The local authority had to pay out on 55 of those claims, compared to just 12 in the previous financial year.
In total the town hall shelled out £14,591 in 2017-18 for vehicle damage, a very slight decrease from the £14,702.27 forked out in 2016-17.
The borough’s pothole hotspot has also recently moved, with the East Lancs Road now topping the table of complaints. Previously more residents got in touch about the state of Poolstock Lane than any other route.
The FSB suggests Wigan Council urgently needs to consider investing more in the borough’s roads.
Robert Downes, FSB development manager for Greater Manchester, said: “On the face of it Wigan hasn’t done too badly in this research, but there are signs of trouble ahead unless the council addresses the issue.
“Complaints for 2017-18 were up by a third in Wigan, while at the same time investment in road repairs plunging by two thirds from around three million pounds to just £992k. It’s clear you get what you pay for.
“If you need any more proof, the number of claims for damage to vehicles as a result of potholes also rose sharply. Wigan Council paid out for repairs in 55 instances in 2017/18 compared to just 12 the year before. In total, there were 183 complaints for damage last year, and 85 the previous year.
“The picture this paints is that roads in Wigan are in decline and require some much needed TLC. Businesses pay enough in rates and should demand better.”
Potholes in Wigan borough that need repairing can be reported to the council via the Report It app or online at www.wigan.gov.uk/reportit