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Roads and highways maintenance

Blocked drains

The Environmental Protection team will investigate any complaints relating to drainage and sewerage, finding out the nature of the problem and deciding who is responsible for any further action. The Drain Clearance team provides a service to unblock drains but you'll need to call out a private contractor to carry out any necessary repair work.

To report a blocked gully or standing water on the highway, please contact:

During normal office hours: 01642 726001

Emergencies out of hours: 01642 726050

Drainage systems

A private drain is a pipe which connects from one property to the public sewer and is the responsibility of the property owner. When this pipe extends beyond the boundary of your property, either into other privately-owned land or under the public highway, it is known as a lateral drain, which is the responsibility of the water authority.

Public sewers include all those pipes that take the waste from more than one property, and are the responsibility of the water authority.

For more information go to the Northumbrian Water Website.

Gullies and highway drainage

The council is responsible for approximately 25,000 road side gullies which are routinely mechanically cleaned once per year, however additional cleansing will be carried out if required. Gullies in known trouble spots are cleaned more often.

The council will attend to flooded/overflowing gullies upon receipt of an adverse flood warning from the Environment Agency and the Met Office, and sites will be addressed on a priority basis following this information.

To report a blocked gully or standing water on the highway, please contact:

During normal office hours: 01642 726001

Emergencies out of hours: 01642 726050

Highway claims

Personal injury or damage to property on the public highway is always regrettable, and we aim to minimise such incidents as much as possible.

As a highway authority we are responsible for maintaining the public highway to provide a safe environment for all highway users. We currently employ a number of qualified and experienced highway inspectors to carry out the inspection of over 409 miles of footpath, 385 miles of carriageway and 25 miles of off-road cycle tracks, to ensure that Middlesbrough's roads and footways are kept in a safe condition.

Inspections are carried out on a routine basis. The frequency of inspections is greater on roads and footways where the vehicular and pedestrian usage is highest.

We encourage members of the public to report any faults to the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001, so problems can be dealt with as soon as possible.

Your rights regarding compensation

In general for a claim to be successful against a highway authority it's necessary to prove that:

  • the highway in question hasn't been properly maintained
  • the defect that caused the accident was dangerous
  • the defect was the direct cause of the accident

Inspection and repair records form the basis of the highway authority's legal defence against any claim. If the Highway Authority can show that they took reasonable steps to ensure the highway was safe then the claim will fail.

Whether or not to claim

Our local roads are some of the borough's most valuable assets. It is vital that they are maintained as cost effectively as possible. Valuable resources are taken up investigating and defending cases, and (in a small number of cases) paying compensation. This may result in a lack of funds for important works that keep up the appearance of your local streets.

Please think carefully before making a claim, as your own insurers may be able to compensate you. In rare cases claims can be settled when the council's insurers accept that there has been a failure to maintain the highway. In all other cases, each and every claim, regardless of the size, will be defended.

Utility companies (gas, water and electricity) carry out an average of 10,000 excavations as part of works in Middlesbrough's streets. Many claims each year have to be referred to the utility companies to defend, as the defect in question is a direct result of their work. Similarly, some accidents occur during works managed by our contractors, who carry their own public liability insurance for working on the public highway.

If you claim

If you decide to claim you'll be asked to provide full details in writing outlining the following:

  • your name, NI number, date of birth and full contact details
  • an exact location of the incident
  • the names and contact details of any witnesses
  • the time, date and weather conditions
  • the direction of travel
  • a sketch of the incident location
  • details of injury or damage
  • why you believe the highway authority is responsible
  • photographs of the defect and surrounding area (if possible)

In addition for vehicle damage:

  • proof of ownership
  • a copy of the current MOT
  • your insurance certificate
  • the odometer reading
  • the date of last service
  • two independent repair estimates

How your claim is processed

On receipt of your claim we will acknowledge it within 21 working days. We will also notify our insurers that your claim has been received. If necessary we'll request further information or a site meeting as part of investigations. When we're in possession of all the necessary details, our aim is to have the investigation completed and a full report based on incident details, inspection records and works conducted, sent to our insurers within 90 days. Our insurers will then respond to you.

This may be to:

  • refer the claim to others
  • deny liability
  • pay compensation


For further information, to report a defect or to make a claim following an accident, please contact the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001 or find out more about making a claim online.

Highway emergencies

The council will respond to all incidents and emergencies on the highway, e.g. removal of debris from a road traffic accident, spillages, uprooted bollards, unsafe pavements and carriageways, and flooding, which require emergency attendance.

A highways maintenance team are available 24 hours a day/7 days week to attend to emergencies. We will attend all highway emergencies within 2 hours of a report.

To report a highway emergency, please contact:

During normal office hours: 01642 726001

Emergencies out of hours: 01642 726050

You can also report problems by using Report It.

Button linking to the online form to report a highway emergency

Manhole covers

The council will attend to, and make safe, requests for repair or replacement of manhole covers within 2 hours of receiving notification.

To report any defects relating to a manhole cover, please contact:

During normal office hours: 01642 726001

Emergencies ;out of hours: 01642 726050

Please note, some manholes are the responsibility of public utility companies, therefore details maybe forwarded to the relevant company to undertake works where required. Residents can also report the defect direct to the relevant utility company.

Obstructions on the highway

The Highways Act 1980 clearly states that the highway authority must, as far as possible, prevent the stopping up or obstruction of the highway including the public footpath.

The highway authority also has the right if necessary to take legal proceedings against a person or persons who are known to be depositing such things that would cause an obstruction and possibly result in the injury of a third party.

To report any obstructions or hazards on public roads, footpaths or other public areas please contact the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001.

Common examples of obstructions include:

  • builders skips or materials e.g. piles of bricks, sand, concrete etc.
  • branches, bushes or hedges which overhang or block the highway
  • advertising boards which are unauthorised
  • road works safety barriers that have fallen over
  • scaffolding or hoardings
  • tables and chairs from pubs, cafes, or restaurants
  • illegally parked vehicles


Pavements, particularly those constructed of paving stones, can suffer very badly from vehicle trespass. In the case of damage it is important, if possible, to report the vehicle details/findings so that the council can recharge the full cost of repair.

Illegally parked vehicles cost the council thousands of pounds a year in damaged paving, damaged grass verges and cause a serious problem for blind, disabled and elderly people.

You can let us know about damage to a pavement using Report It.

Button linking to the online form to report a various highways problems

Alternatively, you can call the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001.


A pothole is where the surface of the road or footpath has been eroded and a hollow has formed. The severity of the pothole, and therefore the criteria for attention, is determined by the risk it poses to highway users. This is difficult to judge since all potholes present some risk.

The factors to be taken into account include size, exact location (carriageway or footway), and depth of pothole. In addition, the type of traffic use, speed and volume, road alignment and visibility, and also position in relation to the road width are considered. Potholes on the highway are repaired in accordance with the highways safety inspection manual guidelines.

You can use Report It to let us know about a pothole or a problem with a road surface.

Button linking to the online form to report a pot hole

We can investigate your report more quickly if you upload a photograph of the pot hole, and give us as much information about the location as possible, for example the closest house number or street light column number.

Alternatively, you can contact the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001.

Works will be undertaken to repair the surface where required.

Street furniture

The council provides and maintains a range of street furniture, including road signs and markings, seats, bollards and bus shelters. Street furniture can cause an obstruction or hazard if sited incorrectly. Unauthorised signs, litter bins, and other furniture will be removed from the highway.

Damaged or missing road signs

You can let us know about damage or vandalism to a road sign, or any concerns you have about the maintenance of signs or road markings, using Report It.

Button linking to the online form to report a various highways problems

Alternatively, you can call the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001.

Advice about traffic signs and road markings

If you need advice about the supply of a new traffic sign (including tourism signs), or road markings, please call Environment Services on 01642 728189.

Further information

Visit the Department for Transport website for general advice on traffic signs and road markings

Visit the Highways Agency website for advice about tourism signs.

Street naming and numbering

Visit the street naming and numbering page for more information including the street naming and numbering application process.

Vehicle crossings

Access from the public highway to a private driveway or other area will require a properly constructed crossing to be built. The purpose of a crossover is to enable easier access for vehicles. It will consist of strengthening the footway or/and removing the verge to allow vehicles to pass over the area without causing any damage, including to the numerous services usually located under the surface.

Residents can obtain a free estimate for person(s) if they would like to consider making an application for a pavement crossing by telephoning the Environment Contact Centre on 01642 726001.

If the access is from a classified road, planning permission may be required, which if approved, an estimate and an undertaking to pay for works form will be sent to the applicant. These should be signed and returned if the applicant would like to proceed with the application.

Winter maintenance

You can report a Winter Maintenance Problem via Report It

Button linking to the online form to report problems with salt bins

The winter maintenance plan, including information about gritting routes and salt bins, is available on the winter information page.