Countryside campaigners have warned that potholes may be delaying emergency service vehicles and putting lives at risk.
The Rural Services Network (RSN), which stands up for those living in country areas, says deteriorating roads will ‘make access for the emergency services harder and response times longer, potentially putting rural lives at risk’.
“Government statistics for England suggest it takes 10 minutes 37 seconds for fire and rescue services to respond to incidents in predominantly rural areas – an increase of 31 seconds since 2011-12,” the RSN says.
“This compares with a response time of seven minutes and 43 seconds in urban areas.”
Some rural roads are in such a bad state of repair that they could be closed altogether due to a lack of funding, said NFU Mutual motor insurance specialist Ian Flower.
“The deteriorating state of rural roads has been exacerbated by prolonged freezes and flooding poses an additional hazard as many deep potholes are disguised,” he said.
Figures from NFU Mutual reveal a 48 per cent increase in pothole claims from 2015 to 2017 – with the total value of claims almost doubling over the same period.
The insurer said its figures form only part of the picture because many motorists seek recompense directly from the local authority or pay the costs themselves rather than claim on their insurance, it said.
Oxfordshire highways teams had 2,137 potholes reported in the week to Monday. It said it had filled 4,893 in the past month.
South Central Ambulance Service declined to comment.