Reporter Ed Barnes goes in search of Wirral’s biggest potholes

As Wirral Council prepares to spend millions fixing roads, I went out with a tape measure to try and find Wirral’s biggest pothole.

Despite a planned £7.2m spend on 450 roads and bridges later this year, Wirral Council was ridiculed on social media in March after AI-generated images of people swimming or fishing in potholes circulated across Facebook with many claiming it represented the state of the roads in their area.

To see what the roads were really like, the LDRS went out with a measuring tape to try and find Wirral’s biggest pothole.

While most of the holes didn’t quite compare to some of the craters I’d recently spotted on my way to an election count in Aintree, one was so deep I couldn’t see the bottom as hard as I tried.

After a tip-off from a nearby resident, this sinkhole on Trafalgar Road in Seacombe had been cordoned off with barriers and measured approximately a foot wide. On the nearby Rudgrave Place near the Texaco garage, much of the road surface had come up in places and one hole measured 20 by 21 inches.

A pothole on Rudgrave Square, Seacombe. Credit: Ed Barnes

Neither road is listed on the programme of works published by Wirral Council in March. Other finds included a 61 inches long by 16 inches hole that stretches on an otherwise smooth Claremount Road in Wallasey or a shallow but more than 20 foot long one near Birkenhead Park.

LDRS reporter, Ed Barnes, on his quest for potholes on Claremount Road in Wallasey. Credit: Ed Barnes
One pothole on Ashvile Road near Birkenhead Park measured over 20 feet long. Credit: Ed Barnes

In some parts of the borough, evidence of planned road works could be seen with white lines painted on many of the large holes and damaged road surface on the Woodchurch estate. Hoole Road, which I’d previously been told had potholes so big “you could literally plant a garden in there,” has now been patched up.

On Brimstage Lane, the road is currently closed off while extensive works to repair the road take place there.

However, according to new Office for Local Government (OFLOG) data, smaller roads in Wirral are twice as bad compared to the England average. OFLOG was set up with the aim to “make local government even better”.

The data covers areas like finance, roads, adult social care, planning, and waste management and the government said it will “increase understanding about the performance of local authorities, warn when authorities are at risk of serious failure, and support local government to improve itself.”

For Wirral, it says 8% of Wirral’s B and C roads should be considered for maintenance, compared to 4.5% for similar local authorities and the English average of 4%. For A roads, the difference is less with only 4% of these roads needing maintenance compared to 3% for similar councils and the England average.

Trends in the data show the conditions of B and C roads have gradually got worse with 3% worse than in 2020 but A road conditions have stayed steady. In Wirral, there are 737 miles of road in total with 1,154 miles of pavement.

Pothole on the A5317 near Heswall. Credit: Ed Barnes

The council says it “has to maintain and develop the roads infrastructure to try and meet local priorities” but “this needs to be done within the limits of the finances that it has available”.

Councils across the country are also facing increasing costs to adult and children’s social care budgets which now make up a large percentage of spending and can put pressure on other services.

Environment and transport committee chair Cllr Liz Grey previously said, “As a local authority, we have a legal duty to maintain roads within the borough and this work requires continual investment.

“The roads earmarked for improvements are prioritised based on condition surveys, as well as reports carried out by highways inspectors, residents, and councillors.

“Repairing roads across the borough is essential to keep Wirral moving – whether that be by bike, on foot, or in a vehicle – and our annual programme is a major investment to deliver on those expectations and keep our residents safe. We know that often roadworks delay people’s journeys, and we apologise for that, but the end result is better, safer surfaces.”

If you feel we have missed Wirral’s biggest pothole, don’t hesitate to get in touch via email at edward.barnes@reachplc.com  What 3 Words can be useful when it comes to giving the exact location.

Lead image: A sinkhole on Trafalgar Road, Wallasey. Credit: Ed Barnes

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