Highway Maintenance Operational Plan

Read our Highway Maintenance Operational Plan, find out why we have changed our approach and what this means.

As the local highway authority, Suffolk County Council has to fulfil a number of statutory duties including the duty to maintain the public highway to enable the safe passage of highway users.

Suffolk Highways delivers the highway maintenance function on behalf of Suffolk County Council.

Our Highway Maintenance Operational Plan (HMOP) (PDF, 728KB) sets out the standards that Suffolk Highways will meet for safety inspections and reactive maintenance (works that have been triggered by defects or safety concerns such as potholes).

The HMOP is aimed at the inspection team and others within Suffolk Highways, to provide the standards and methodology to use when maintaining the county’s highways.

Our staff use the Suffolk Highways Defect Response Matrices (PDF, 2.3MB) to identify whether repairs are necessary for different types of highway defect, and the timescales for completing repairs.  Browse the document to see the categories of damage and respective timescales for repair, for each type of defect.

Click each of the sections below to read more about the Highway Maintenace Operational Plan


National recommendations for the provision of highways maintenance services have changed. A new Code of Practice entitled "Well-Managed Highway Infrastructure (WMHI)" was published on 28 October 2016. The new Code of Practice can be found on UK Roads Liaison Group.

This Code of Practice encourages highway authorities to develop a locally determined risk-based approach to highway maintenance that fits with the asset management approach recommended by central government.

Visit the highways asset management webpage to read more about the approach in Suffolk. 

This Highway Maintenance Operational Plan represents Suffolk Highways’ interpretation of how the local highways maintenance service should be provided to meet the County Council’s statutory duties and the national recommendations.

Adopting a risk-based approach to reactive maintenance, means that the prioritisation of the defect will depend on the level of risk that it poses. For example, a deep 400mm diameter pothole on a 60mph A Road would represent a greater risk than that posed by a similar sized pothole in a residential cul-de-sac.

As it is not possible for works to be carried out everywhere at the same time, repairs need to be prioritised. Suffolk Highways will give higher priority to busier roads and footways, where there is a greater chance of the defect causing a problem, and lower priority to defects on quieter roads. As a result, Suffolk Highways’ approach links a category of defect to a specific timescale for repairs – as set out in the following table:

HMOP categories and timescales

Suffolk Highways uses the location (severity) and size (likelihood) of the defect to determine risk. A set of matrices have been produced that show the response time for different types of defects at different locations within the highway network. Further details of these can be found in the full HMOP document.

This approach to maintaining the highways means that you should see us being more proactive - identifying defects, such as potholes, when they are smaller and tackling them at an earlier stage to prevent them getting worse.

By grouping smaller defects with larger, higher priority defects these will be treated earlier. If it is not possible to repair these on the first visit, defects in the same location will be repaired in a single return visit.

Over time, the earlier identification and repair of smaller defects will reduce the number of occasions where these expand to become large defects, reducing the risk and improving safety on Suffolk’s roads.

You can read the plan by clicking the following link: 

Highway Maintenance Operational Plan 

The Highways Maintenance Operational Plan has been developed alongside a suite of Highway Infrastructure Asset Management documents which can be found on the Highway Infrastructure Asset Management page on this website.