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Potholes are the unavoidable result of an ageing highway surface being subjected to traffic and adverse weather conditions. 

We undertake safety inspections on a regular basis on our entire highway network. 

As potholes can develop over a very short time it is possible that one can appear between inspections and consequently we are not aware of it.  This is why we appreciate you reporting them.

How do I report a pothole in Cornwall?

Report a pothole by using the link below:

Report a pothole online

For urgent problems or emergencies outside of normal office hours please telephone: 0300 1234 222.  Facebook and Twitter are not monitored 24 hours a day and may not be monitored at weekends.

When potholes will be filled

Safety is always our primary consideration.  Some of the factors we take into account when prioritising pothole treatment are:

  • the size and depth of the hole
  • the volume of traffic (vehicles or pedestrians)
  • speed of an affected road
  • the likelihood of the defect contributing to an accident.

How quickly we fill a pothole depends on two factors:

  • whether reported to us or identified during a safety inspection.
  • the priority we assign the defect.

Potholes reported to us will be inspected and prioritised as soon as practical.  If they are considered to be a significant hazard they will be treated by the end of the next working day. 

Those that are not likely to be dangerous are added to our list of programmed work and normally treated within six months, often as part of a wider patching or surfacing programme.  

Why we don’t resurface all old roads to prevent potholes from occurring

We are working hard to address this issue on our footways and carriageways and follow best practice guidance including the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme's Pothole Review and the ADEPT report on Pothole and Repair Techniques. 

The most effective way to deal with potholes is to prevent them from happening in the first place and we endeavour, where possible, to follow the maxim that prevention is better than cure; however, we simply do not have sufficient funds to implement this fully over the 7,200km of roads that we maintain.  

In order to make best use of our resources we operate a robust asset management approach which seeks to deliver the best possible value for the funds that we have at our disposal.

Surfacing is only a part of the work we do, so we prioritise works based on good Asset Management techniques and the funding that is made available.

The A38 and A30 Trunk roads are maintained by Highways England on behalf of central government so are not the responsibility of Cornwall Council.

How we identify potholes

Our main method of identifiying issues are routine inspections carried out by our accredited Highways Safety Inspectors, who inspect all of our highway network and log any issues needing a repair.

We also have an online reporting tool where anyone can report a suspected defect or issue. Reported issues are verified by the Highways Safety Inspector and then programmed for treatment where appropriate. 

We aim to make all pothole repairs a first time permanent fix but should traffic management be needed, or the road in question requires further attention or investigation to the cause of failure, it may not be repaired straight away. 

The frequency of inspections, verification and repair time scales is set out in our Highways Maintenance Manual.  

What roads are to be surfaced?

We publish full details of our surface treatment programmes

Defective road surfaces

If you want to report the location of what you consider to be a defective road surface, as opposed to individual potholes, that is not covered by the surface treatment programme, please use this form:

report a defective road surface 

Examples of a what might be considered a defective road surface, as opposed to a pothole, could be:

  • large areas of uneven surface
  • depressions
  • trench failure
  • edge deterioration
  • crazing/crumbling road surface

Can a motorist claim compensation from the Council?

In most instances we are not responsible for injury or damages sustained due to potholes.  For more information please view our Highways Claim for Damage or Injury page.

Repaired potholes

The information below shows the number of potholes we have repaired in each financial year.

  • 2014/15 - 13,121
  • 2015/16 - 23,393
  • 2016/17 - 28,584
  • 2017/18 - 30,506
  • 2018/19 - 31,239
  • 2019/20 - 23,784
  • 2020/21 - April to December - 14,584

Innovative repair methods

The Council is always looking at new and innovative methods of repairing potholes. These methods should be:

  • permanent
  • efficient and
  • cost effective

Innovative methods supplement our conventional patching programme. The main supplementary method we have used in recent years is jet patching. The above figures for the number of potholes repaired do not include the potholes repaired by this mechanism.  

Jet patching is classed as permanent repair. This process involves spraying an emulsion of aggregate and binder into a pothole at high pressure. It is sprayed in layers to achieve compaction, leaving a sealed, smooth and level surface. This mechanism can repair a pothole in around 2 minutes. It can also be used as a preventative tool to halt surface deterioration. We will generally only use this mechanism on rural roads where it is most suited.