SAFETY signs to warn motorists about some of Cumbria's worst road surfaces are in place on two major routes as the county's highways boss warns potholes will 'get worse before they get better'.

Temporary signs are now in place on the A595 and A596 to advise drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists to proceed carefully while surface erosion and potholes await repair.

The news comes as the county's highways network, including its footpaths, lighting and drainage systems, has been revalued as a £7.4 billion asset.

Councillor Keith Little, Cumbria County Council's highways chief, said the signage was in use to provide advice and guidance only, and was in no way acting as a legal 'cop out' by the authority.

"They are simply out to warn drivers of the road surface. It's not so that people can't claim against the council, it doesn't work like that," he said.

"We know the potholes are there but we are not able to get to them as quickly as we would like.

"Unfortunately, people are still doing 60 and 70 miles an hour."

Mr Little added: "We are having to do temporary repairs at this time."

Cumbria is the fifth largest highways authority in the country with the second largest footprint.

The county council, which is responsible for maintaining the network, receives about £70m in funding for its roads every year.

But this is not enough, Mr Little said - with the maintenance backlog now standing at an estimated £300m.

Speaking at the authority's annual general meeting, he said: "We are doing our level best around the county, but it's going to get worse before it gets better.

"I have to say the surfaces are pretty bad out there."

But he added: "We are no different to any other authority in England.

"It's underfunding in the main across our roads network over many years.

"We are trying to get round as quickly as we can. It's just down to volume.

"We suffered damage during the Beast from the East and the normal winter weather.

"You fix one part and another opens up 20 minutes later."