How we look after the highway

We repair and maintain most roads and pavements in East Sussex. We provide and maintain traffic lights, streetlights, road signs, bridges and other structures. We also maintain roadside verges, hedges and trees.

We do not look after trunk roads.

These are maintained by National Highways (previously Highways England). In East Sussex these include:

  • A21 outside of Hastings
  • A26 between the A27 and Newhaven
  • A27 and most of the A259, east of Pevensey (excluding Hastings).

We also do not look after private or unadopted roads. Find out more about Adopted roads.

Our approach to highway maintenance

We aim to have a highway network that is in the best condition for the funding available. This includes all elements of the highway including roads, pavements, streetlights and drainage.

We do this in several ways including:

  • A routine maintenance programme for regular work such as verge cutting and drain clearance.
  • A system for fixing any hazardous defects such as large potholes and faulty streetlights. Defects are identified by our Highway Steward Team during their regular inspections or by members of the public who report them to us. (Revenue projects).
  • A planned maintenance programme of major work such as resurfacing and other work that will prolong the life of the highway (Capital projects). This is based on a long-term, strategic ‘asset management’ approach that aims to minimise the need for costly repairs in the long run. It considers the whole lifecycle of each part of the highway to identify the best times for interventions.

Our approach not only maximises value for money, ensuring informed investment decisions can be made, but also manages risk and maintains a highway environment that is safe, secure and accessible for people travelling in East Sussex.

Our Highway Asset Policy, Strategy and other highway policies set out our goals and how we make decisions: Highways Policies, Strategies and Plans

You can find out more about how we keep the roads safe on the East Sussex Highways website: Our Services –


Funding for revenue maintenance projects comes from Council tax, Business Rates and Government grants.

Funding for highway capital maintenance comes partly from the Government via grants from the Department for Transport (DfT). The DfT provide funding to local highway authorities each year towards maintaining and improving the local network, with allocations calculated based on sector-agreed formulae.

The level of Government funding is not sufficient to fund capital maintenance to agreed condition targets, and therefore the County Council tops this up by borrowing.

The Council applies for external grant funding to support our work wherever possible e.g. funding to plant street trees from the Urban Tree Challenge Fund.

Recent and planned spending

The table below sets out the total amount of investment in the maintenance of local highway networks for the most recent 5 years and planned investment for 2023/24 and 2024/25.

* Actual spend **Forecast

Table showing recent and planned spending
2019/20* 2020/21* 2021/22* 2022/23* 2023/24** 2024/25**
DfT Capital Funding £10,336,000 £18,046,000 £13,275,000 £13,525,000 £17,309,000 £14,949,000
ESCC Capital Funding £19,579,000 £7,792,000 £8,500,000 £16,010,000 £24,802,000 £22,557,000
ESCC Revenue Funding £13,339,000 £12,653,000 £12,875,000 £13,009,000 £13,640,000 £18,990,000
Total DfT Funding £10,336,000 £18,046,000 £13,275,000 £13,525,000 £17,309,000 £14,949,000
Total ESCC Funding £32,918,000 £20,445,000 £21,375,000 £29,019,000 £38,442,000 £41,547,000
Total DfT and ESCC funding £43,254,000 £38,491,000 £34,650,000 £42,544,000 £55,751,000 £56,496,000

Additional work in 2023/24 and 2024/25 made possible by reallocated HS2 funding

UK Government Logo

In 2023 the Department for Transport announced a Road Resurfacing Fund and that East Sussex County Council would receive an additional grant of:

  • £2,360,000 (Budget 2023) in 2023/4.
  • £1,674,000 (re-allocated HS2 funding) for 2023/24.
  • £1,674,000 (re-allocated HS2 funding) for 2024/25.

This has been spent on the following additional carriageway resurfacing schemes.

Additional schemes in 2023/24
Road Town Area to be resurfaced in m2
Downsview Cresent Uckfield 5,000
Bartley Mill Road Frant 3,578
Well Green Lane Kingston 5,478
Pacific Drive Eastbourne 13,427
Cherry Gardens Hill Groombridge 2,852
Bunny Lane Frant 9,204
Holliers Hill Bexhill 5,981
The Bourne Hastings 6,833
Additional schemes in 2024/25 (subject to change if priorities change over the course of the year)
Road Town Area to be resurfaced in m2
Frant Green Road Frant 7,228
Fysie Lane Etchingham 8,334
Newhaven Road Rodmell 3,130

How we work with utility companies

Minimising disruption

Our East Sussex Highways Network Management team run a permit scheme to co-ordinate all works carried out by the Council and other parties on the highway. It also allows them to closely monitor work carried out and can be used to drive behavioural change and to ensure that disruption to local communities and road users is reduced. East Sussex Highways issue fixed penalty notices for breaching permit conditions or if they work without a permit.

East Sussex are in the process of implementing a lane rental scheme in 2024 which will allow additional charging of any works promoter carrying out works on the busiest areas of the highway. The scheme aims to incentivize works promoters to complete works quickly and further minimise disruption on the network. More information on the lane rental scheme will be available once the scheme is live.

Coordinating works

To make sure a newly repaired road is not dug up shortly after we have carried out work to it, a Section 58 restriction under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 can be issued.  This prevents utility companies from digging up the road for 3 years following full reconstruction of a road and 2 years following resurfacing of a road. The only exception is if there is an emergency or there is a need to provide a new customer service.

In addition, all parties undertaking works on the highway co-ordinate short and long-term programmes of work for up to four years in advance and we have regular meetings with both the South East Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee (SEHAUC) and HAUC Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee to ensure we work as collaboratively as possible.

Ensuring long lasting repairs by Utility Companies

When utility companies need to excavate the highway to repair their apparatus they are required to reinstate the highway to a good standard.  All parties involved in reinstatements are required to consider how they could minimise long term damage to the highway when accessing their apparatus through alternative and innovative ways of working. E.g. Repositioning the apparatus or using trenchless technology which avoids the requirement for digging.

East Sussex Highways employs ‘New Roads and Street Works Act’ (NRSWA) qualified Permit Inspectors to assess the standard of reinstatements to ensure they are compliant with SORH v4 - Specification for the Reinstatement of Openings in Highways. These inspections are undertaken within 6 months of the reinstatement being completed.

For those not achieving the acceptable quality standards we can require them to re-do the work and we will increase the volume of inspections we carry out on their work. This helps to drive better performance and protect the highway. We meet to discuss repair materials, treatments, and techniques, to ensure that the latest technology is explored to deliver the desired outcomes where this provides value for money and reduces the need for digging up the highway.


East Sussex County Council is continually looking for ways to improve what we do through innovation and technology. 

We have an Innovation Lead who works across the Highway Service to coordinate both innovation currently available within our supply chain and to assess emerging technology.

We have links with colleges and universities to inform future innovation to deal with current challenges, to understand what is being developed and how we can become involved in trials. 

We are members of the South East Local Councils Roads Innovations Group that meet regularly to discuss innovation and new ways of doing things. We also take part in a Materials Forum to look at how new materials could be used on the network.

We are currently looking to introduce drone technology to conduct more of our structural inspection programme.

  • Regularly inspect all 2000 miles (3218.69 km) of roads, pavements and signs
  • Repair and maintain roads and pavements
  • Cut grass verges
  • Spray weeds on pavements and kerbsides at least once a year
  • Clean our roadside drains at least once every two years, or more in problem areas

Find out more information on the East Sussex Highways website.

District and borough councils are responsible for litter collection and street sweeping.

  • Operate a permit scheme to help us minimise disruption from roadworks
  • When we plan major roadworks, we will put signs up at least one week before work starts
  • Let residents and businesses that are directly affected know, at least a week before major roadworks start
  • Provide clearly signed diversions where roads need to be closed
  • Publish roadworks information on our website and via Twitter

Find out more

  • Potholes will be repaired within 28 days or sooner depending on the level of risk they pose i.e. deeper potholes on main roads are priorities.
  • You can find out about our intervention levels online in our inspection manual and investigatory matrix.
  • Intervention levels allow us to focus our resources on the most immediate issues affecting safety.

Find more information and pothole FAQs on the East Sussex Highways website

Report a pothole

Street lights and illuminated signs

  • Regularly check 41,000 street lights and 8,000 illuminated signs
  • Fix dangerous faults within an hour of being informed
  • Repair faults (except those caused by a power failure) within 10 working days of being informed

Find more information and street light FAQs on the East Sussex Highways website

Traffic lights and Pelican crossings

  • Regularly check over 200 sets of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings
  • Repair faults (except those caused by a power failure) within one working day of being informed
  • Replace faulty lamps within one working day of being informed
  • Put up warning signs within 4 hours of being advised, if traffic lights or pelican crossings are out of action.

Find more information and traffic light FAQs on the East Sussex Highways website.

  • Publish our plans and procedures for roads to be treated each winter
  • Grit all main roads (over 40% of the county), including at least one road into each large village, when freezing is predicted
  • Use modern precision weather forecasting linked to our own weather stations
  • Use over 50 snow ploughs to open main routes where possible, within 24 hours of heavy snow and other routes as soon as we can
  • Clear snow from town and village centres within the resources available to us
  • Provide information via our website and local radio on road conditions during bad weather

Find more information and winter FAQs on the East Sussex Highways website

  • Provide an emergency call-out service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • In a major emergency, we will prioritise our responses to incidents according to available resources
  • Make safe dangerous hazards within 2 hours of being informed
  • Make safe other hazards, obstructions and damaged roads and pavements, including dangerous potholes within 24 hours of being informed.

To report an emergency on the highway please call our Highways Contact Centre on 0345 60 80 193