THE number of potholes reported on Northumberland’s roads has dropped significantly in recent months as the county recovers from a difficult winter.

High levels of rainfall coupled with fluctuating temperatures saw a peak of 2,100 potholes reported in February alone.

However, by May that figure had reduced to 535, and Northumberland County Council officers say the number of reports has fallen by 74 per cent in the last three months.

It follows significant investment agreed in the council’s budget earlier this year in a bid to try and tackle the problem.

Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting (June 12) of the council’s communities and place scrutiny committee, council leader Glen Sanderson said the local authority was “getting there” when it came to tackling potholes.

He said: “In a county as large as ours it is not surprising that we have such a major task on our hands. This was the worst winter since the 1800s because of all the rain.

“The other thing is our roads are just not designed for the traffic around today in terms of the weight, size and quantity. We’re putting significant amounts of money in.

“If you look at the last eight years we have spent £37 million of our own money. That is a significant amount to find from our capital programme. We think it has made a difference.”

Cllr Sanderson explained that the council now carried out more permanent repairs where possible, as opposed to the less popular patching that often results in a larger pothole when the repair breaks down.

Furthermore, he hailed the importance of the Fix My Street system, which allows residents to report issues via an app.

Speaking on Fix My Street, Cllr Sanderson added: “It is the right system to use. If we hadn’t had the kind of weather we had, everyone would have seen how brilliant it is.

“We have managed to keep up with the worst winter we have had in 200 years. We’re getting there.”

Officers pointed out that Northumberland had 3,200 miles of road to be maintained, including a large amount at higher ground which was more susceptible to pothole damage.

Highways delivery manager Kris Westerby added: “This winter was probably the worst I have ever seen in Northumberland. It has been widespread across the county whereas in previous years it has been in different parts.

“We have had a really challenging year.”