Potholes, Road Repairs and Budgets

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Environmental Information Regulations 2004

Information Request 10944756

What criteria does your contractor use when repairing potholes? Are there set requirements for the quality of the work, type of application etc?

Potholes repaired under the Highway Safety Policy/Inspections are detailed in the policy

Who at the council monitors the quality of the repairs to potholes carried out by your contractor?

Both Devon County Council (DCC) and the contractor through the terms of our maintenance contract. A formal audit process is in place whereby 5% or repairs undertaken are checked either on site of using photographic evidence provided by the contractor.

What is the average cost of repair to each pothole?

The current estimated cost in 2020/21 is £80 per pothole, however this may vary considerably on individual potholes due to issues such as traffic management and traffic sensitive streets requiring out of hours works.

How many times does your contractor have to return to any pothole to repair it repeatedly within 12 months? If this information is not recorded, why not?

Not held. The method of recording defects makes this impossible to identify. However where failed repairs due to workmanship are identified the contractor is required to undertake remedial repairs if within the guarantee period.

Where other contractors are required to dig up roads, pavements, paths, lanes etc to install, remove, or repair utilities – gas, phones, IT, water, electricity – what is the expected quality required for surfaces to be reinstated? Who inspects these works?

A statutory code is published under Sec 71 New Roads & Street Works Act 1991 (Specification for the Reinstatement of Openings in the Highway) (SROH) which works promoters are required to follow.  Guarantee periods exist for reinstatements and a proportion of these are inspected, cored and tested by the Street Authority annually.

If damage to a road surface is caused by a vehicle, the council have the option to seek an insurance pay out. Where damage is caused to a surface by utilities, what recourse to repair costs does the council seek and if none, why?

Adequate evidence would be required to substantiate the cause and the utility or contractor responsible.  If evidence is available, the utility concerned will be approached and cooperation sought to rectify the defect.  Under the New Roads & Street Works Act 1991 works promoters have a duty to cooperate with the Street Authority.

If the road surface is dug up for repairs to utilities and the repair fails within 12 months, who is responsible for the re-instatement of the road surface and is the work inspected? If not, why not?

The Street Authority can defect a reinstatement and require a works promoter to undertake remedial repairs to bring it up to the required standard.  Any remedial actions taken are subject of the same inspections and guarantee periods as the original reinstatement as shown in the SROH

What is the estimated cost of repairing all current potholes in Devon County Council Highways portfolio?

 Please see the answer to Q3

For the budget in 2021/22, does Devon County Council expect to increase or decrease the budget for Highways and by how much in actual value, and if cut, what is the real terms cut equivalent including inflation?

As with all authorities across the country, at the time of responding, there is not yet any formal confirmation on our budget settlement for 2021/22 however our expectation is there will be a decrease in the overall highway maintenance funding. In our settlement for 2021/22 Devon made provision within its 2020/21 highways capital budget to carry forward an element of its capital funding into the following financial year, this approach provided some resilience to its future highway works programme for 2021/22 should our settlement be significantly reduced. This strategy is proving to be a good decision as it is helping to reduce the impact of the reduced settlement we are expecting in 2021/22.

In financial terms and taking inflation into consideration we are expecting our total capital settlement in 2021/22 to be in line with settlements akin to 3-4 years ago. In terms of a comparison against the current years funding, which was an exceptional year in terms of additional capital funding, our expectation based upon the most recent intelligence is that Devon will potentially see a reduction of between £ 11-17million for this year on its highways capital budget.

When is the contract next due for renewal?

The enquiry is not specific on which contract is being referred to however for clarity the following response is specific to its major highway maintenance contract, the Devon Highways Maintenance Term Service Contract (TMC).

The authority operates a mixed approach within its supply chain with specialist contracts awarded for delivering different aspects of its highways service, these vary in contract term of between 1 to 3 years. In addition to these work specific contracts, longer term contracts are awarded when the scope of the works are spread across a wide window of service delivery. The major contract in terms of service delivery is the TMC, this contract equates to approx. 60%, in financial terms, of the highways service budget spend each year. This contract was awarded in 2017 and has a contract term of 7 years with the ability to extend by a further 3 years up to a maximum of 10 years in overall contract duration.

The earliest contractual renewal date for the TMC is April 2024 with the latest date being April 2027 following maximum contract extensions.

Will the award at that time be based purely on price or value for money?

With a minimum of 3 years still remaining on the current TMC the review on the potential scope of the replacement for this contract is very much in its early stages. The review is exploring what are the future options available for the service, what the contract scope might be, pricing options, value for money and future challenges. As an indication the current TMC was assessed on both a price and quality submission from each tenderer.

Has Devon County Council received any extra finances for pothole/highways repair in the last 24 months? How was this allocated? What surplus was left from the additional funds and how much from allocated budget?

In addition to the regular Department for Transport funding sources, that is the annual Local Transport Needs Formula Allocation, the Pothole Action Fund since 2016/17 (and in its final year) and the Incentive/ Efficiency Element funding since 2015/16, DCC highways has also received additional capital funding as follows:

2019/20: £ 0.8 million to undertake reconstruction works to the storm damaged A379 Slapton Line.

2020/21: £ 26 million from the Potholes Fund plus an additional £5 million to fund works on the A380 Teign Viaduct to Ashcombe Cross. The £ 26 million Potholes Fund allocation was used to fund resurfacing and patching works on local roads.

Surplus Funding:

In 2019/20 there was an overspend on the overall budget, this overspend was carried forward into 2020/21. There was no surplus on either the additional funds or allocated budget.

In the 2020/21 overall budget, provision was made to carry forward into 2021/22 £ 7.7 million (see Q9 above). We are still within the 2020/21 financial year and therefore forecasts are subject to change due to external influences e.g. weather, pandemic effects, however the current end of year forecast is indicating there is unlikely to be any surplus to carry forward (excl. £ 7.7 million set aside for 2021/22).

In the Reserves, are there funds in ‘earmarked reserves’ and/or other reserves that could be used to effect high quality repairs to high volume traffic routes, such as Kingsteignton, Bishopsteignton, Teignmouth and Dawlish?

The County Council maintains a working balance and earmarked reserves to cushion the impact of unexpected events and emergencies. These balances cannot be used to fund routine service expenditure.