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Home / Streets & Transport / Roads, Highways & Pavements / Potholes, Defects & Personal Injury

Potholes, Defects & Personal Injury


As the Highway Authority in Bournemouth the Council has responsibility for the maintenance of the highway which includes the road (carriageway), the pavement (footway), verges and Public Rights of Way.

The additional severe weather fund recently received from the Department for Transport will be spent to repair the areas of highway infrastructure which felt the greatest impact of the extreme weather conditions experienced in Bournemouth during the period of October 2013 to January 2014. The Authority will be undertaking essential surfacing and remedial works in priority areas throughout the Borough with particular attention given to Throop Road, Holdenhurst Village Road and the rural section of Muscliffe Lane, which have all experienced significant deterioration over this past Winter. This fund supplements the Authority’s wider Road Rescue programme for 2014/15 and aligns with the Council’s overall highway maintenance regime.


Reporting a defect

You can report a pavement, road or highway fault using our online form| or alternatively you can call Customer Services on 01202 451199.

If your problem is emergency out of normal working hours please call 01202 451145

Alternatively you can email Customer Services|.



A pothole is where the surface of the road or pavement / footway has been eroded and a hollow has formed. The Council, as Highway Authority, has responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the adopted Highway areas.

Pothole defects are logged for repair on the decision of an inspector, who works to the standards set by the Code of Practice.

Where a pothole is noted for Category 1 repair, this is required to be made safe and temporarily repaired within 24 hours of first inspection, then maintained in a safe condition until a permanent repair is completed. All other defects are repaired under programmed routine maintenance.


Trip Hazards

Trip hazards are a key concern at all times, whilst the problems of weeds, standing water and ice tend to be more seasonal. Trip hazards and other defects are inspected and repaired in the same way as potholes.


Our official Highway Inspection Category 1 Defect Guidelines



  • Potholes in excess of 40mm deep
  • Depressions or ridges in excess of 40mm over 1000mm
  • Vertical faces in excess of 40mm
  • Illegal obstructions which reduce the carriageway width.


  • Potholes in excess of 20mm deep.
  • Depressions or ridges in excess of 40mm over 1000mm.
  • Depressions or ridges in excess of 25mm over 600mm
  • Cracks or gaps in excess of 20mm wide.
  • Loose or rocking paving slabs in excess of +/-20mm.
  • Standing water in excess of 20mm deep that restricts the footway width to less than 1000mm.
  • Illegal obstruction reducing the footway width to less than 1000mm

Covers, Gratings & Frames

  • Worn covers that could cause skidding
  • Missing covers
  • Difference in level in excess of +/-20mm.
  • Loose or rocking items with movement in excess of 20mm.

Kerbs, Edgings & Channels

  • Vertical projections in excess of 20mm.
  • Horizontal projections in excess of 50mm
  • Missing items
  • Loose or rocking items in excess of +/-20mm in the footway and +/-40mm in the carriageway


Defective highway gullies, chambers, culverts or pipes which result in standing water over 40mm deep that restricts the width of the carriageway to less than two thirds of its total width.

Fences & Barriers

Missing or defective posts, rails and barriers that could pose a danger to the highway user

Verges, Hedges & Trees

Obstructed visibility that could pose a danger to the highway user Overhanging trees or vegetation that could pose a danger to the highway user

Road Studs

Missing or defective road studs

Road Markings

Road markings with dimensions reduced by more than 20%.

Highway Signs

Missing or defective posts, signs and fixings that could pose a danger to the highway user.

Headroom less than 2300 & 5200mm over pedestrian and vehicular areas respectively.

Sign face within 450mm of the edge of carriageway.

The adopted highway network is logged on a computerised map information system that is available for inspection by appointment at the Council Offices using the contact details on the right.

Many paths, particularly serving the beaches in Bournemouth, are not part of the adopted highway network and these are logged on a computerised map information system that is available for inspection by appointment at the Council Offices using the contact details below.

Our Highway Inspectors carry out inspections every 1 to 12 months, dependent on the importance of the highway, and works orders are placed for any necessary repairs. These are within appropriate timescales dependent on severity of defect and likely risk to other users.


Problems can arise between inspections and we welcome reports from the public. Please try to give an accurate location for the pothole, e.g. the name of the street and adjacent house, if possible.

The severity of the pothole and priority for attending to it is determined by the risk it poses to all road users. The factors to be taken into account include size and depth, traffic type, speed and volume, road alignment and visibility, and also the position in relation to usage.

The road network is inspected and maintained in accordance with the recommendations of the Best Value Code of Practice for Highway Maintenance Management and our own Code of Practice, with inspections varying from one to twelve times per year, depending on the classification of the road and its level of usage.


Making an Insurance claim

In law, for a claim against a highway authority to succeed, it is necessary for the claimant to prove that:

  • The highway in question had not been maintained appropriately and was therefore dangerous.
  • This was the direct cause of the incident.
  • If these can be proved it is for the highway authority to demonstrate that it took all reasonable steps to ensure that the highway was safe.
  • In practice this means that records of inspections and the repairs carried out form the basis of the authority’s legal defence against any claim.

Proceeding with a claim

If you decide to make a claim you will need to provide full details in writing of the following:

  • Exact location of incident
  • Time, date and weather
  • Direction of travel, by foot or vehicle
  • Detail of damage or injury suffered
  • Why you believe Bournemouth Borough Council is responsible for the incident
  • For vehicle claims you may also need to provide:
  • Two independent estimates for repair, unless repair was required immediately
  • Proof of vehicle ownership
  • Copy of current MOT and insurance certificate
  • Date of last service
  • Any other relevant factors

When we receive your claim we will:

  • Acknowledge receipt, and indicate if we have adequate information to investigate the claim within 21 days
  • Produce sufficient evidence to refute the claim, or alternatively accept the claim, within 90 days
  • If the incident has occurred as a result of works carried out by a utility company or contractor, then your claim may be against them and not the highway authority. In this instance, we will advise accordingly.

Deciding if you should make a claim?

Our road network is one of Bournemouth’s most valuable assets and must be managed and maintained as cost effectively as possible.

Please think carefully before making a claim. This will help us spend more of your money on actually looking after the roads and keeping them safe.


Frequently Asked Questions

I have witnessed a vehicle damage the carriageway, what should I do?

In the case of witnessing damage to any highway area, pavement or street furniture, it will be of great assistance if you could contact us by emailing Customer Services| or by calling 01202 451199 to report the vehicle and damage so that the Council will be able to repair the damage and seek to recover the full cost of repairs from the vehicle owner.

When works are being undertaken on the highway (including the pavement or footway), the organisation carrying out those works, which may include utility companies, is responsible for ensuring there is a safe diversionary route for pedestrians and other traffic and a satisfactory reinstatement.


I have noticed that there are trees & hedges obstructing the highway

Bournemouth has a large number of trees and hedges, both highway and privately owned, that overhang pavements and these should be maintained to a minimum height of 2.3m over the footway and 5.3m over the carriageway. For safety purposes, it will sometimes be necessary to close pavements and pathways during pruning works.

To report a tree/hedge obstructing the highway please email Customer Services| or call 01202 451199


Information about un-adopted roads

A private street is a street that is not maintainable by the Council. Streets that are unadopted are generally in a condition not meeting the standard of adopted streets. These are usually unmade with no bituminous surface.

The responsibility for private streets lies with the street owners. These are usually the people who live on the street.

How do I report a private street that is unsafe?

This is usually the responsibility of the owner (usually the frontager). If the problem is thought to be a danger, for example a deep hole in the road suddenly appearing, the Council can arrange to make it safe by placing barriers or road closures around the hazard. However, the permanent remedials are then to be carried out by the owner/s.


How do I report a problem with gullies and drains on a private street?

If thought to be dangerous, for example a missing gully lid, the Council will arrange to make the problem safe and then the owner will need to make permanent remedials.

Please email Customer Services| or call 01202 451199


How do I get a private street adopted?

To get a street adopted the street must be constructed to adoptable standards. The costs of constructing a street to adoptable standards must be met by the street owners or residents.

The Council does not have a budget for this and cannot be of any financial help.

If you have any query regarding a footpath or pavement, please email Customer Services| or call 01202 451199.

Related Information


Mail Address

Highways Department
Town Hall Annexe
St Stephen’s Road

Telephone 01202 451199
Out of Hours Telephone Number

Out of Hours:
01202 451145

Email Highways
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