Perth and Kinross Council is playing catch up after plummeting roads spending during the pandemic left a potholes legacy.
In the third of our Counting the Cost of Potholes series, we look at how fluctuating roads spending has impacted motorists across the region.
This financial year Perth and Kinross Council (PKC) is investing a record £14 million in roads maintenance.
But it follows a slump in repair works during covid restrictions.
Last financial year, investment in carriageway resurfacing across the PKC area nearly halved – dropping to £6.9m compared to £12.7m the previous year.
Roads were also hammered by bad weather, adding to motorists’ woes.
Nearly 70% less was spent on planned patching work.
Meanwhile, more was spent on reactive patching.
This pattern has been seen across other local authorities. It has led to complaints from the public that substandard, quick-fix repairs are a false economy.
PKC now maintains it has done “a lot of catching up”.
But even before Covid-19 put the brakes on roads projects, PKC had already been dealing with a repair backlog.
Its outlay on mending potholes had reduced by £500,000 over the five year period to 2018-19.
Have the roads improved?
Opinion is split over whether or not the council is on top of the problem.
A source from a local taxi firm, who asked to remain anonymous, was sceptical.
He claimed the repairs being made were ineffective and would “all crumble after a few showers of rain”.
But George McLaughlan of Perth hauliers McLaughlan Transport says the situation with potholes across Perth appears to be improving.
“I’ve seen them being worse,” he said.
“The biggest thing is the delays due to roadworks, but if they’re sorting the road that’s going to take time.
“In the main, potholes aren’t an issue at present.”
Council pledge ‘largest single investment’
Perth and Kinross Council pledged to tackle road defects when it set its budget earlier this year.
A Conservative proposal saw an extra £4m allocated towards addressing the area’s pothole repair backlog and other roadworks.
Conservative councillor Angus Forbes, convener of the council’s environment and infrastructure committee, said: “We already had £10 million in the budget for roads and most recently added another £4 million totalling £14 million.
“This is the largest single investment into roads maintenance made in one year.”
The council’s Conservative leader Murray Lyle said he had asked for a review to assess the roads maintenance programme.
“We’ve done a lot of catching up – probably more than other councils because we’ve put millions into it,” he said.
“Business support and roads were two of the things that came to the fore last year.”
‘Permanent repair approach’
Last week, Angus Council was criticised for spending too much on temporary repairs, which did not last.
Perth and Kinross Council says it adopted a “first-time permanent repair approach” to tackling potholes three years ago.
According to the authority “this approach and has led to a reduction in the number of potholes being reported to the council.”
Earlier this year, a local funeral director said potholes near Alyth cemetery had made it difficult for hearses and mourning relatives to access the graveyard.
Billy Mackay of David Scott Funeral Director in Blairgowrie said the state of the road had made it “challenging to manoeuvre the hearse and family cars in a dignified way”.
After the issue was raised by local SNP MSP John Swinney, PKC made plans to resurface the stretch of road.