BURY has a deep problem. The borough has been ranked as one of the worst in the region for potholes according to a new study ­— with costly repercussions for drivers and the council. BRAD MARSHALL reports.

BURY’S potholes are now deeper than the English Channel, shocking new data has revealed.

Almost 4,600 potholes were reported in Bury in 2017/18, according to the most recent figures, ranking it the fourth worst local authority area in the North West

The data, published by insurance comparison website Confused.com, reveals that when added up the total cumulative depth of Bury’s potholes was a staggering 183 metres ­— nine metres deeper than the English Channel ­— or equivalent to 46 double decker buses stood one on top of the other.

These potholes can have devastating consequences for motorists, causing expensive damage to vehicles, and leading to accidents.

John Norris, a manager of a steel stock holders, from Radcliffe, suffered hundreds of pounds worth of damage to his new car after hitting a pothole, and has been trapped in an ongoing battle over compensation with Bury Council ever since.

The damage occurred as Mr Norris was driving down Radcliffe New Road towards Whitefield in December last year.

After colliding with a pothole, the impact affected his car’s tyre and alloy, causing a bubble on the side wall which necessitated repairs and a new tyre to be fitted, costing approximately £300.

Mr Norris immediately contacted Bury Council to complain and says he was sent relevant forms to claim compensation and advised that his insurance would cover this type of incident.

However, he asserts that despite the council admitting liability his claim has since been rejected three times.

Mr Norris also says he has taken the issue to his ward councillor, Councillor Rishi Shori, who has advised him to take his complaint to the Government ombudsman.

He is now demanding an apology and full compensation or says he will “knock it of my 2019 council tax bill”.

Mr Norris described the potholes in Bury as a “big problem” and compared dodging them to driving around an “obstacle course”, even noting that friends who visited him from other parts of the UK had told him Bury’s roads are “terrible”.

He said: “I feel angry and upset because I’m a hardworking guy. I’m very respectful of things and honest,and if things are not right people should put their hand up and pay for it.

“I have not just been unlucky and got a puncture. I have hit a pothole that has caused damage to my brand new car that I work hard for, through no fault of my own.”

As well as affecting motorists, potholes also have significant financial implications for councils who yearly have to fork out thousands of pounds to repair them and compensate drivers, like Mr Norris, who suffer damage to their vehicles.

Last year Bury Council spent £717,416 on repairing potholes on the borough’s streets.

And despite this, damage to vehicles caused by potholes still resulted in the council shelling out £91,596 in compensation to motorists.

A Bury Council spokesman said: “Potholes are inevitable, especially in winter, however well we maintain our roads.

“The council is only liable for damages if it has either failed to regularly inspect the road, or if it has failed to fix a pothole found during an inspection.

“We appreciate that some residents may think that the law is unfair. However, our priority is to invest as much money as we can into making our roads better for everyone, not paying out on claims for which we are not liable.”

Despite the actions of local authorities, across the region, motorist’s pothole problems are getting deeper.

According to the latest figures, almost 98,000 potholes were reported to councils in the North West last year.

These potholes stretch to a combined near 4km depth ­— nearly twice as deep as the world’s deepest natural cave in the Georgian Caucasus, and 22.4 times as deep as the English Channel.

Nationally, 34 per cent of drivers have had damage to their vehicle as a result of poor road conditions, with more than one in seven incidents occurring during February ­— the most prolific month for pothole related vehicle damage.

Most of the damage done is to vehicle’s tyres, around 53 per cent. But a quarter of reported damage was to suspension, which can be costly to fix.

Further almost a third of UK drivers say they have had an accident or near miss caused by a pothole.

A Bury Council spokesman said: “Nine years of austerity has resulted in a national shortfall in highway maintenance funding. This shortfall, accumulated over these years, has led to a severe and damaging effect on local roads.

“Bury should receive around £5-6 million per year for it’s 660km network of roads; we actually receive around £2 million. If you multiply this shortfall since 2010 that adds up to more than £30 million of spending deficit on Bury’s roads.”

Since 2010, the council reports, more than 12,600 cars have been licensed in Bury.

This trend extends across Greater Manchester and coincides with a significant growth in motorway traffic.

To address the problem the council says it has put extra funding into highway improvements, including a £10 million boost in 2017 and the same amount proposed in this year’s budget.

It has also spent £140,000 on new machinery which can carry out repairs on 100 potholes a day, compared to 15 using traditional methods.

A council spokesman said: “While extra local investment such as this is a step in the right direction towards providing better roads for our communities, under-funding of roads is a widespread problem.

“This problem needs to be addressed nationally, especially when there are other vital frontline services that also need funding.

“However, Bury residents can be assured that improving our highway network is one of our top priorities and we will continue to press the Government for a fairer deal for our borough.”