A TEST VALLEY councillor has criticised the county's £377m highway maintenance backlog. 

Winter weather has had a devastating impact and unprecedented levels of enquiries, pothole reports, other defects and damage claims, accelerating the network’s deterioration, a Hampshire County Council report said.

The document shows that by the end of July, the number of pothole-related enquiries, including reports and damage claims, had ballooned by 45 per cent compared to the whole of 2018, the worst year previously recorded.

By the end of July, 28,080 claims were made to the council.

READ MORE: McDonald’s opens new 24-hour drive-thru in Winchester

Cllr Geoff Cooper, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman for Romsey and Southampton North, said: “As if £377m was not an eye-watering enough figure, the council also admitted that it would cost half a billion pounds to get the road network back into reasonable condition. This will not come as a surprise to motorists and cyclists who regularly use the road network and with winter fast approaching, we all know that the situation is only going to get worse.

Hampshire Chronicle:

"The problem has worsened due to years of lack of government funding whilst the Conservatives have been in power.

“The overall effect of this, during a cost-of-living crisis, is to put additional costs onto long-suffering motorists and I would urge people to make sure they claim back from the county council.”

Cllr Nick Adams-King, executive lead member for universal services, said: "Last winter saw an exceptional 'perfect storm' of periods of freezing, and rainy weather following each other. Highways teams have worked exceptionally hard to catch up with the backlog of repairs caused by that damage. We have deployed new ways of working, are using new innovative methods, and most importantly, have invested an additional £21.5 million to address the repairs needed to the network.

"It is indisputable that government cuts mean that highway network needs an enormous amount of investment to bring it up to our preferred standard, it is not correct to suggest that a lack of maintenance has caused the issue."

In July, the county council invested £22.5m over three years to repair potholes and other carriageway defects, what is planned in the medium term ahead of the coming winter and what is designed for the future years of the additional funding allocation.

The Government has provided an additional £8.3bn for local authorities in England. This funding announcement has confirmed the allocation levels for Hampshire for the years 2023/24 and 2024/25, as well as the minimum estimated additional funding allocations between 2023/24 and 2033/34.

Hampshire will receive an extra £132m between 2023/24 and 2033/34. The local highway authorities will receive £23.4m this financial year, followed by a further £23.4m for 2024/2025, with the rest of the funding allocated up to 2034.