Potholes are the unavoidable result of an aging highway surface being subjected to trafficking and adverse weather conditions.  However, we are working hard to address this issue on our footways and carriageways and follow best practice guidence such as that set out in the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme's Pothole Review and the ADEPT report on Pothole and Repair Techniques. 

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?

Report a pothole by using the online form linked below.

Report a pothole 

or contact us using the details on this page.

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; and,
  • 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.  

How potholes are repaired

We aim to do a permanent repair on our first visit.  As this is not always possible; at some locations we will do a temporary repair.  

What is the difference between a temporary and a permanent repair?

A typical permanent repair would involve us cutting a rectangular area out of the road around the pothole. This hole is cleaned out and painted with liquid bituminous binder. Then it is filled with a hot bitumen-bound material. This is raked and mechanically compacted.  This is a relatively long process compared to making a temporary repair.

A temporary repair is a quick short term measure to make the road safe. Normally we clean loose material from the pothole, fill it with a material that can be laid cold and then compact it. Temporary repairs are short term solutions that ensure traffic safety until a permanent repair can take place.  

How do you decide whether to make a temporary or permanent repair?

The choice of repair reflects how safe it is for our gangs to do the work and the amount of disruption our work will cause.  Temporary repairs are much quicker for us to do. 

Temporary repairs are followed up at a later date with a permanent repair which may be part of a routine patching programme, or as part of our programme of surface treatment. These programmes are planned well in advance. This allows us to schedule larger, more complex or time consuming repairs at a time which will minimise the disruption to road users.

Details of planned roadworks can be viewed on our Roadworks web page.  

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

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. We maintain over 7,200km of roads not including footways or footpaths (often called pavements), cycleway or the A30 or A38 Trunk Roads. 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.

Due to historic underfunding we have a backlog of essential maintenance works which will require significant investment to address.

Funding needed to treat the backlog i.e. money needed to bring our network back to standard:

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.

Trunk roads are maintained by the Highways Agency on behalf of central government.   

What roads are to be surfaced?

We publish full details of our surface treatment programmes

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.

The table below shows the number of pothole related claims per year and the number of claims that we made payment against.  

Department for Transport Pot Hole Fund

Cornwall Council has submitted a bid to the Department for Transport as part of the Pot Hole Fund. Details of our submission can be found here.  Appendices can be made available upon request to roadstransportandparking@cornwall.gov.uk