A dispute between Birmingham City Council and its road contractor Amey has worsened amid claims the quality of repairs is slipping and leaving motorists bumping along the city streets.
Since last summer, the city council has been in dispute with the firm over poor standards of repairs but now it has emerged the company is counter-claiming over the quality of roads it inherited from the council in 2010.
Details emerged as councillors claimed they had been increasingly frustrated by what they saw as a fall in the standard of service from the highways firm.
The claims are strongly refuted by Amey which has 20 years to run on the £2.7 billion Birmingham highways contract.
Cabinet member for contracts Coun Stewart Stacey (Lab Acocks Green) said: "We have a difference of opinion with the contractor over the level of service delivery.
"If we didn't challenge this we would see a lower level of service to the end of the contract."
He said he hoped to reach agreement rather than resort to "expensive lawyers" but said there was the added complication of the counter-claim in which Amey said the council did not hand over the transport network in the condition agreed when the £2.7 billion contract was signed.
Coun Stacey said: "They say we'd gone light on maintenance before we handed it over."
Meanwhile, members of the council partnerships committee told Amey representatives that they felt standards had slipped recently, particularly when compared to the quality of work three or four years ago.
Coun Sue Anderson (Lib Dem, Sheldon) said: "The conditions of the roads now seem worse than they were before. I am not sure the quality is sufficiently checked and action taken.
"There are lumps and bumps, it's like being at sea, and we have got lots of potholes."
Her colleague Coun Ken Wood (Con Sutton Trinity) added that 410 complaints from councillors in a month seemed high.
He suggested the relationship between the council and contractor had worsened over the five years after a very good start and the evidence of this was on the streets.
And Coun Rob Sealey (Con Bournville) said that common sense had gone out of the service.
"They come out to fill a pothole, tnd there's another 12 feet away and it gets left rather than being done at the same time."
Amey contract manager Eddie Fellows replied to councillors that the quality of repairs, including the quality of road surface material, had not changed over the five years.
But he said they also ensured sub-contractors' work was up to scratch and they could call back firms if problems arose up to five years after the job if workmanship or material were at fault.
He recognised they did have issues with some streets, like Church Road in Yardley, which were being dealt with.
"I understand from councillors that it doesn't feel like it did a number of years ago. But we are here for another 20 years and I want it to be an excellent service and one we are proud to deliver for the city," he added.