/ Motoring

Can pizza fix our pothole problem?

Domino’s Pizza has taken to repairing potholes in the US and branding the tarmac with its logo. How would you feel about the UK following suit in allowing private companies to fix our roads?

Potholes are rarely out of the news these days. Last week, we learnt that the Mellor Brook Bypass in Balderstone, Lancashire is Britain’s worst affected road, and a recent report from the World Economic Forum ranked our thoroughfares 27th in the world in terms of quality in 2017-2018.

In May, the AA estimated that potholes now cost drivers and insurers at least £1m collectively a month on repair bills. It also reported that the number of claims for the first four months of 2018 already equal those for the whole of last year.

Earlier this year, the government announced a £100m fund for road repairs, but with estimates that it would cost around £12bn and take more than a decade for councils to clear the current backlog, this seems small fry.

Pizza action

So what can be done about this ‘national embarrassment’, as the AA calls it? Well, if we look to our friends across the Pond, salvation could come in an unlikely form: pizza.

Before you start imagining our roads being filled with stale margheritas and stuffed crusts (although that might actually work, going by the hard-as-nails stuffed crusts I’ve eaten in the past), this isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

Rather, fast food giant Domino’s Pizza has become so tired of waiting for potholes to be fixed (and having its pizza ruined in the delivery process), that it has taken to fixing them itself.

Over the course of a year, the Domino’s Paving for Pizza initiative will see it dispensing grants of $5,000 to 20 locations across the country to help the local administration fix its potholes.

So far, it has partnered with four towns and filled a couple of hundred potholes with tarmac, each branded with the Domino’s logo and the slogan: ‘Oh yes we did’.

The project also allows customers to nominate their own town for the Domino’s effect on their local roads.

Branded potholes

Currently, Domino’s has no plans to roll out the initiative in the UK, but how would you feel if local councils partnered up with private companies to help remedy our own pothole ‘epidemic’?

With little cash in their coffers to fix roads and the government fund unlikely to (excuse the pun) fill the hole, could it make sense for councils to get some extra help by offering an ‘Adopt a Pothole’ scheme, if you will?

What do you make of the idea? Are sponsored pothole schemes the way forward? Do you love or hate the thought of private companies being able to advertise on the tarmac in exchange for repairing the roads?

Or perhaps you feel local infrastructure should be solely the local government’s responsibility to uphold. Either way, let us know your views and ideas.


I am afraid that this idea is arather clever publicity stunt – and thanks to the media will garner much coverage for little outlay. Would it take off in the UK I doubt; and if it did not doubt it would be a few high?!! profile holes that would receive attention.

However if Which? were to cover the subject in terms of expenses, methods, or link to serious discussion on a matter that affects pretty much everyone in the UK THAT would be a bonus.

Brilliant idea if they are filled properly.

These holes will open up again in no time if loose tarmac was just compacted over those existing holes. I couldn’t find any images of Domino’s potholes that were sealed at the edges.

Publicity stunt? Of course, but done properly could be of real benefit, and if we have the choice of a sign or a pothole, give me a sign.

At least its colorful!

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…if only our Government could tax all vehicle users in ways proportionate to the size and weights of their vehicles and/or the extent that they are used, then they might be able to fund the provision and maintenance of roads as public infrastructure projects…

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One way of cutting down on road wear would be to have fewer deliveries of fast food.

Do Domino’s do a pizza with extra chippings, please?

Perhaps Domino’s might mimic the plans of Which’s main sponsor, Amazon, and invest in a fleet of autonomous quadcopter drones for home deliveries.

This would reduce wear and tear on the roads and I quite like the idea of using drones for deliveries to “drones”.

Its just the modern way

On the signs at the approach to our village it says ‘A traffic calmed village’. Actually the traffic bounces around as it goes over the numerous speed bumps.

The most recent repairs were to resurface several damaged speed bumps.

Village Calming

I’m tempted to send the cartoon on village calming for inclusion in our village magazine, Alfa. The owners of small children who have to cross the B-road on the way home from the primary school might not be impressed, so maybe they are a necessary evil.

I wonder if gazing at branded pothole repairs might distract attention and cause accidents, resulting in claims against the company that did the job.

We have a village with a “gateway” width restriction and speed hump at each end. It simply impedes traffic well before and after any houses, with no effect on speed through the village. Another village has chicanes – single flow alternately – through part of its length. Traffic tries to make the chicane before the oncoming vehicle, simply gets help up when it is busy, and accelerates quickly between restrictions to beat traffic to the next one. Speed bumps either damage suspension or wear the inner walls of car tyres particularly when they degrade, but seem to have no effect in controlling speed where I see them.

Potholes are much more effective at reducing traffic speed, particularly when they have a white outline to mark their presence. We may concentrate too much on avoiding them than watching the road in front, and it might reduce the number of cyclists by natural wastage, but perhaps they are a subtle way of making the motorists life as difficult as possible.

If the intro figure is true – “the AA estimated that potholes now cost drivers and insurers at least £1m collectively a month on repair bills” then, at £12m a year this is far cheaper than spending £12bn to repair them. .However, I think the real cost of pothole repairs and claims would bear scrutiny, Which?. That august journal, the Sunday Express, reports:
“Potholes cost UK drivers £1.7 billion a year:
Here’s how to claim if you car is damaged
BRITISH motorists are spending a whopping £1.7billion a year fixing damage caused by potholes in the UK every year. Here’s how to claim if your car gets damaged.


Maybe an insurance levy on all vehicles could go directly to a pothole fund; maybe all vehicles should pay a minimum VED – including electric, historic and low emissions; maybe we should withdraw electric vehicle subsidies and tax their fuel, until we have fixed our roads for the benefit of all these users? I am tempted to say cyclists should contribute as they are particularly at risk, but I’ll restrain myself.

Filling pot-holes is actually a complex business and there have been accusations that the best methods are not being followed and asimilar argument that those employed to fix potholes are in effect incentivised for repeat business.

This article is good reading and fundamentally backs the old adage of a repair delayed by a year doubles the cost.

Phil says:
1 July 2018

Domino’s repairs don’t look very permanent and I’ve no doubt some council jobsworth will point out that printing their logo on it makes it an advert for which they’ll need planning permission.

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I occasionally come across the remains of a pizza or other ‘fast’ food lying on the pavement – either pre- or post-ingestion. It would be a service to the community if the person who has rejected or ejected it would carefully slide it into the nearest pothole to prevent other passers-by from slipping on it. Its adhesive properties would surely form a bond with other loose material to heal and seal the wound.

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I don’t often applaud graffiti or street damage, but they did get some good results for pothole attention in Manchester a while ago…. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/11570595/Meet-the-man-using-penises-to-fill-potholes.html

A rather po-faced response from the Bury Council spokesman.

The spokesperson added: “We urge the perpetrator to stop defacing the roads immediately, and ask anyone who sees this sort of criminal damage being carried out to report it to the police and the council.”
I rather thought that potholes defaced our roads and caused (criminal) damage.

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Well, it’s definitely one way to catch their attention…

Are there any other creative ways to fill in potholes?

Yes. Pay additional council tax and business rates to provide the money.

That seems more logical than creative, Malcolm, but you do raise a good point. I don’t pay council tax as I still live with my parents so it’s not really fair for me to say if I’d be happy to pay more. I’d be interested to know if people would be happy for their council tax bill to go up if it guaranteed potholes being filled.

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Well, local businesses around here sponsor the planting and maintenance of roundabouts, in return for a small advertising sign. Perhaps local businesses could sponsor a stretch of road and undertake to keep it pothole-free, in exchange for advertising their public spirit?

However, as there is so much money required to repair years of neglect, I don’t think “creative” is going to work. It needs money. From taxation. Either everyone who works, pays council tax or business rates, and/or uses the roads.

Currently fuel duty is around 60p a litre and is expected to raise £28.2bn 2018-19. Raising this by 10% (6p a gallon) would raise an additional £3bn. This should deal with 25% of potholes, and “create more jobs” which the government seems to like. In 4 years we should be largely pothole free. Since the motorist will benefit, they should pay for it. Not creative, I grant you, nor even imaginative, but a solution. I’ll expect it to be unpopular because some do not like to pay for what they want.

I endorse that, Malcolm – and people who live with their parents and pay no Council Tax can always send a cheque to the highways department and request it be spent on pot holes.

Personally – on the basis of no specific evidence whatsoever – I think the cost of fixing our pothole problem [our roads are broken] has been exaggerated but, whatever the true figure is, it is a big one and needs to be afforded. With careful planning alongside the annual road resurfacing programmes [which are condition-based] many potholes could be eliminated as part of regular highway maintenance or under other improvement schemes. A major scheme to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians at a junction near me involved extensive resurfacing and realignments that dealt with a large number of potholes, rough surfaces, obsolete street furniture, and damaged footways in one operation as a capital scheme with partial government funding. Let’s set a four-year target and hope to get it done in three.

I’d set a three year target and maybe expect to get it done in 6, regrettably. 🙁

I reported that a little used minor residential rural road was put in the budget for resurfacing, even though it did not seem in bad condition when I drove down it. It cost £75 000. The adjacent more major road was pitted with potholes and damaged edges and still is. £75k would have repaired around 1000 potholes.

You are right about resurfacing. In many cases pothole repairs are temporary and part of the road surface needs to be replaced, rather than just given spot repairs. False economy. The residential road I referred to, however, did not fall into that class (well, not from my observations); the response to my FOI request was “We generally undertake one local road per year, per member – with the strategic roads being chosen across the whole county – using a prioritisation methodology.“. There are quite a lot of members, so allowing each one to choose a road does not seem to be a particularly sensible “prioritisation methodology”.

No wonder local government has a dirty name if individual councillors are allowed to choose which roads will get repaired or resurfaced. Some Wards will have no bad local roads while older areas might have several. As a method it is open to impropriety. If “prioritisation methodology” is good for strategic roads why can it not be employed on minor roads as well? Any system should be based on condition [to indicate need] and traffic volume [to indicate priority]. We have roads in Norfolk with grass growing down the middle of them; it would be a scandal if every pot hole in those roads were given urgent treatment. Perhaps Alfa could supply an additional drawing to illustrate the Norfolk country lane with grass down the middle, wildflowers and scattered twigs, pheasants drinking from the potholes, and an old man on a broken bike with a straw in his mouth contemplating the joys of summertime.

Appropriate signage. We’ve a job to get away from 40 m/h restrictions in our country area.

Paying more is one way, but I actually have another method in the patent pipe. More when it is granted (or rebutted). Give me 6 months.