Potholes

How do I report a pothole?

Our highway budget has been significantly reduced over the last few years. Therefore all repairs and improvement works that are carried out are based on key criteria such as safety. See below for further details.

Depth of pothole on road

Intervention level 

75mm+ (7.5cm) Made safe within 2 or 24 hrs based on risk assessment permanent fix within 28 days 
50mm-75mm  Permanent fix within 28 days (for certain roads we will take action to make safe within 2 or 24 hours) 
Less than 50 mm  No action will be taken

Please remember, when reporting a pothole;

  • Try to provide a good location i.e. Outside number 4 or near lamp column number 27
  • Provide as much information as possible that will help the inspector find the pothole you are reporting.

Report a pothole using our online form

All potholes reported by members of the public are inspected.

What happens next ?

How long does it take to make a pothole repair?

Potholes how and why 

How do we know where the worst ones are?

Why are some potholes repaired temporarily, wouldn’t it be cheaper and safer just to repair them properly the first time?

Why don’t you resurface all the roads and stop potholes forming in the first place?


What happens next ?

  • All potholes reported are inspected and categorised depending on their severity

Back to top 

How long does it take to make a pothole repair?

Safety is always the priority. When it is not possible to carry out immediate repairs because of other hazards or long term flooding, we may use temporary signs and barriers to divert vehicles around the defect. Highways Inspectors inspect each defect and decide which ones need to be treated as a priority. Highways defects fall into one of the following categories:

Depth of pothole on road

Intervention level 

75mm+ (7.5cm) Made safe within 2 or 24 hrs based on risk assessment permanent fix within 28 days 
50mm-75mm  Permanent fix within 28 days*  **
Less than 50 mm  No action will be taken

*for certain roads we will take action to make safe within 2 or 24 hours 

**the repair starts from the point of inspection.

Depth of pothole on path

Intervention level

40mm Made safe within 2 or 24 hrs based on risk assessment permanent fix within 28 days
25mm-40mm Permanent fix within 28 days*
Less than 25mm No action will be taken

*for certain footways we will take action to make safe within 2 or 24 hours 

Back to top 

Potholes - how and why?

Larger or more complex works (such as major resurfacing of roads or pavements) are generally scheduled separately. 

A pothole is formed as a result of a failure of the top surface of the road or footway.

When the surface ages, it becomes more porous and rainwater penetrates it through cracks and other flaws. 

In wet conditions the pressure created by car tyres passing over the area forces water further down into the road surface weakening it. In cold and wet weather conditions a phenomenon known as 'freeze-thaw' occurs. This causes a faster deterioration of the surfaces, because the water which had filled the cracks freezes and expands, loosening chunks of the surface material. Once a pothole has formed it will grow in size as traffic continually dislodges and removes weakened and broken pieces of the surface.

When a surface has deteriorated over a larger area, potholes continue to reoccur. Often the entire surface needs to be repaired or completely replaced under our Highway road surfacing programme.

Back to top 

How do we know where the worst ones are?

We have a team of highway inspectors who regularly patrol Milton Keynes roads to identify defects and problems in line with Code of Practice for Highway Safety Inspections guidance. Main roads and pedestrian areas are inspected more frequently than minor roads. Potholes can develop very quickly between inspections and reports from the public help us to prioritise these and deal with them promptly. 

Back to top 

Why are some potholes repaired temporarily, wouldn’t it be cheaper and safer just to repair them properly the first time?

This is a common and understandable view, but one with several explanations. First of all, if road conditions are wet or icy, a permanent repair wouldn’t actually work; the hot bitumen would instantly cool before adequate compaction could be achieved and the ice or water would also prevent the repair bonding to the existing road.

Secondly, permanent repairs take a good deal of time and, depending on their location, may require temporary traffic lights to be brought in or a road closure. This requires more equipment, staff and planning; particularly at times when the resource isn’t available immediately – perhaps because the crews covering that area are on gritting duty or have more urgent potholes to fix – a temporary repair is still better than leaving it.

Thirdly, the pothole, or cluster of them, may actually be symptomatic of a more general, underlying problem on the stretch of road, requiring further investigation and potential resurfacing of an entire section. Again, this is a much larger job which cannot be done on the spot, so we’ll ensure the holes are temporarily filled to keep the area safe in the meantime.

Back to top 

Why don’t you resurface all the roads and stop potholes forming in the first place?

It would be impossible to eliminate potholes as they appear randomly all the time. Our regular inspections and our routine maintenance and resurfacing programme aim to target priority areas across Milton Keynes. As our roads get older, they will be repaired as part of this programme. 

In addition to responding to the public our inspectors also identify potholes whilst carrying out routine safety inspections.

Find out more about the work we are doing on the Highways on our Highways and Transport pages 

Back to top

Last Updated: 20 November 2017