THE amount of complaints about potholes and poor road conditions in west Cheshire more than doubled in the year to April.

More than 12,800 complaints about roads managed by Cheshire West and Chester Council were received in 2017/18, compared to 5,307 in 2016/17 and 3,200 in 2015/16.

The number of claims made – and paid out – for damage caused by potholes also more than doubled, from 59 payouts in 2016/17 to 143 in 2016/17.

The most problematic road was Main Road in Moulton.

Cllr Helen Weltman, Conservative CWAC ward member for Davenham and Moulton, said: “It just shows a lack of investment in our local infrastructure.

“It’s a lack of proactive thinking and planning ahead. You need a rolling programme of which roads are breaking down – it’s a false economy that we are paying people out for damage.

“A lot of my casework is people with potholes and dirty roads. People don’t expect the world – they know local government budgets have been trimmed – but this is one of the things they do expect to be funded. It’s a shame.”

Poor weather this winter saw a spike in defects, and CWAC was awarded £445,141 by the the Department for Transport’s Pothole Action Fund in February.

All the same, CWAC’s total spend on road repairs was dwarfed by neighbouring Cheshire East Council over the past two years.

CWAC spent a total of £12,974,650 over the two most recent financial years compared to CEC’s £18,600,000.

This is reflected in CEC’s dwindling complaints, down from 14,125 in 2016/17 to 7,107 in 2017/18.

Despite this, CEC dealt with more damage claims from motorists last year, but only paid out on 31 occasions – a total of £2,733.

The figures come from a freedom of information request by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

FSB development manager Robert Downes says road networks were vital trade routes key to local economies, but which in some areas now required urgent investment.

He said: “Small businesses need free flowing, well-maintained road networks to compete and grow, particularly in rural areas where there is more of a reliance on motor vehicles.

“Poorly maintained infrastructure hampers growth and presents a low rent image which can be a turn off for investors. So while it’s easy to dismiss potholes as an irrelevance, or a ‘nice to have’, they are actually rather important.

“Our research shows the old adage, ‘you get what you pay for’, remains true, and I think especially in west Cheshire road users there must be feeling hard done by.

“While it’s a rosier picture in east Cheshire, I suspect businesses and residents in Poynton [home to the borough’s most complained about road for the past two years] will be less than impressed at the state of some of their roads.”

Cllr Karen Shore, CWAC cabinet member for environment, said: “Last winter was one of the longest, and most severe for many years.

"Consequently, the UK road network including the roads around Cheshire West and Chester deteriorated far more than normal, due to the damaging effects of snow, ice and rain, causing an unprecedented number of potholes to form.

"The council has recently allocated additional resources to address the problem and the benefits of that are now being seen with an improving situation across the borough.

"Work is ongoing to repair localised potholes, resurface roads and to treat roads with applications designed to prevent further deterioration.”

What do you think of the roads near you? Email