On behalf of my Liberal Democrat colleagues, I want to wish all readers of the News & Mail a happy new year and best wishes for 2024.

During the festive period, many of us would have driven to visit friends and relatives. Whilst driving, I’m sure you noticed the awful state of our roads – whether it be in Woking, across Surrey or elsewhere in the country.

According to data uncovered by the Lib Dems, 63 pothole compensation claims were made every day last year as thousands of drivers saw their cars damaged by crater-filled roads.

Pothole compensation claims have risen to 23,042 in one year, almost double the 13,579 claims the previous year. Meanwhile, compensation paid out to motorists has risen slightly to £1.77million, up six per cent from £1.66million the previous year. The data was obtained through Freedom of Information requests to councils in England, with details provided by 85 local authorities.

Unsurprisingly to anyone in Woking, Surrey County Council had the highest number of pothole payout claims in the entire country with 2,351 last year, more than triple the previous year. This was followed by Essex County Council with 1,701, and West Sussex with 1,639, both notably larger areas.

Our county council also paid out the most last year for compensation due to potholes with almost £237,000 given to successful claimants. Since 2018, Surrey County Council has paid out more than £1.2million in pothole compensation.

The county council has also paid out staggeringly high individual amounts for pothole damage, one single payout costing council taxpayers £31,000.

The Lib Dems and I want to see local authority highways maintenance budgets fully restored by the government, so local authorities have the necessary funds to repair their pothole backlogs.

Recent research from the Local Government Association has found local authorities face a record £14billion road repair backlog, while spending on local road repairs in the UK has been reduced by more than nearly all other OECD countries.

This Conservative government has overseen a pothole pandemic on our roads. It’s now become almost impossible to drive in some parts of the country, especially here in Surrey, without having to swerve to avoid potholes.

This has led to thousands of drivers having to claim for damage to their vehicles or even personal injury caused by cratered roads. The government is firmly to blame for this failure to maintain our roads properly, having slashed funding for local road repairs.

Cash-strapped councils are being left without the funding to maintain roads while having to shell out thousands of pounds in pothole payouts.

Local authorities urgently need to have their highway maintenance budgets restored so that we can end this vicious circle of pothole payouts and poorly maintained roads.