A long-serving county councillor has called on the local authority leader to allow an “urgent” debate on potholes.

In an email to all councillors, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Councillor Anne Dale said the issue was of “utmost importance” to residents. The councillor, who represents the Stocksfield ward in Northumberland, said potholes had once again come to the fore following a spell of “atrocious” weather.

In the run-up to the setting of this year’s budget, council leader Glen Sanderson insisted the local authority had “listened to the public” on the issue and provided more funding. The budget, which was approved last month, included £36 million to maintain the county’s roads.

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In her email, Cllr Dale said: ”The local authority is responsible for maintaining and repairing the highway. The atrocious weather since the end of last year has put considerable pressure on the Council’s Highways workforce in particular.

“The taxpayers are very unhappy, indeed angry, with the level of service provided by the council – especially with the pothole defect intervention. The workforce is working as best as they possibly can with the resources made available to ensure that they meet the defect intervention response times.

“The county council is inundated with complaints which is also using up considerable resources. As this issue is of utmost importance to residents and road users across the County, I request that all members are given the opportunity to consider and debate this very important issue at the next full council on March 20.

“Thank you for your help and I hope that you will be able to support this request as it is an urgent matter for our residents in particular.”

Responding to the concerns raised by Cllr Dale, Cllr John Riddle, cabinet member for Improving Roads and Highways, said: “Maintaining the extensive road network in Northumberland is a key priority for the County Council and last year we repaired around 40,000 potholes – almost 3,500 every month on average.

“We’re continuing to invest in improving highway maintenance, from exploring new materials to refining the tools and materials we use for repairs. This year alone we have a dedicated budget of £36 million in funding to maintain the county’s highways, with extra funding earmarked specifically for the repair of smaller U and C-class roads in rural areas.

“This issue isn’t unique to Northumberland. Councils throughout England are dealing with the challenge of potholes and the extremely wet winter has been very challenging – but we’re tackling these challenges head-on. We have Pothole Pro teams working in urban areas and extra teams working around the county.

“In line with our commitment to sustainability, we’re also currently testing a new highly durable, sustainable eco-friendly road repair material in some of our areas. While it is a challenge carrying out road repairs throughout our huge county it is one we are committed to using all the resources we have.”

The next full council meeting takes place at 2pm next Wednesday (March 20).