When is a pothole not a pothole?
According to one Scottish council, the answer is when it is only 59mm deep.
Cost-cutting Perth and Kinross Council has declared potholes will have to be 50% deeper in future before they consider filling them.
Last month local authority chiefs admitted that the road network has been severely affected by potholes caused by prolonged wet weather and the subsequent freezing temperatures and thaws.
However, when setting its budget for 2016/17 the cost-cutting local authority agreed not to fill a hole until it reaches a depth of 60mm in the hope it can save £120,000. The previous minimum depth was 40mm.
The decision has caused anger among road users who fear the potholes will only deteriorate over time, leaving a bigger hazard to be dealt with in the future.
Kinross-shire Liberal Democrat councillor Willie Robertson said: “The anticipated ‘saving’ from this idea is given… as £120k.
“As a cyclist I know that damaged road drains are a real danger. Often you can’t avoid them because of traffic passing you.
“I am also aware of a few people locally who have damaged their cars on potholes recently.
“I wonder what the cost will ultimately be when people claim for compensation from the council for the cost of repairing their vehicles.”
A recent report revealed that Scottish councils spent around £1,400 a day on pothole compensation claims.
Perth and Kinross Council paid out more than £80,000 over a five-year period.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Committing to only fixing larger potholes is a false economy. The larger a pothole becomes, the greater risk it represents to road users and the more costly it becomes to repair.
“While in the short term the council might save money by repairing only larger potholes, it is saving up an expensive problem for further down the line.”
Previous council action to tackle potholes across Perth and Kinross has come under fire from drivers, with one road user accusing the authority of treating motorists with “utter disregard”.
Crieff man Robert Noble said: “When I moved to Perth and Kinross in 1971 the Perthshire roads were maintained to a high standard and the off-lets were cleaned regularly.
“Now there appears to be a ‘could not care less’ attitude within the council.”
A Perth and Kinross Council spokesman said: “To ensure safety, we will continue to undertake repairs in inherently dangerous circumstances as part of a risk assessment approach.”‘A menace for drivers’RAC spokesman RodDennis said: “Potholes are a menace for drivers. The state of local roads was the number one concern ofdrivers we interviewed for the most recent RAC Report on Motoring, and sadlyit looks as though thesituation is getting worse in some regions.
“Last year we saw the number of call-outs likely to be caused by poor roadsurfaces rise by a quarter compared to 2014, and this is despite 2015 not seeing a particularly harsh winter.
“Hitting a large pothole has the potential to cause serious problems from damaged shock absorbers and distorted wheels tobroken suspension. In the worst cases, a pothole could cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle.
“It is a reality that councils are having to make somedifficult decisions on where to cut spending. And despite the state of local roads being apriority for many motorists, spending on local roadmaintenance isn’t ring-fenced, so there will always be atemptation to cut this particular line of the budget sheet.
“It is now easier than ever to report problem potholes, such as via the RAC’s Report Pothole app.
“By giving councils a greater understanding of the sheer number of potholes on their roads, there is perhaps a chance they might reconsider where budget cuts take place in the future.”