Potholes set to cost more than �500,000

POTHOLES on roads caused by the recent big freeze are set to cost the taxpayer more than �500,000 to repair, it has emerged.

Roddy Ashworth

POTHOLES on Essex roads caused by the recent big freeze are set to cost the taxpayer more than �500,000 to repair, it has emerged.

And yesterday the Automobile Association claimed far fewer of the estimated two million potholes that have appeared on the UK's roads would have been caused by snow and ice had roads been properly maintained throughout the year.

Essex County Council has received hundreds of calls relating to new potholes that appeared after prolonged freezing conditions over the past three months.

Scores of engineers have been working as fast as possible to mend road surfaces where “freeze-thaw” has taken place. This occurs when water in cracks in the road freezes and expands into ice, causing the surface to break and potholes to form.

Yesterday Norman Hume, the council's cabinet member for highways and transportation, said an additional �500,000 had been made available to fix potholes caused by the bad weather - on top of the existing road repairs budget. The Highways Agency faces further bills to mend potholes on the main roads for which it is responsible, such as the A12.

Most Read

Mr Hume said: “We have received hundreds of reports from local residents about potholes caused by recent heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures.

“Essex has one of the best highways networks in the country and we want to maintain that, so I am ensuring that resources have been allocated to deal with issues caused by the recent adverse weather conditions.

“Our teams of engineers are working across the county to carry out as many repairs as possible, in order to keep our roads in the condition that our residents expect and deserve.

“Defects can be reported to Essex County Council directly, but I would like to remind residents that we currently have to focus our efforts on areas that present the most immediate safety risks.”

The council's policy says that potholes 5cm deep or more should be repaired within 28 days, but depending on the position on the road and the amount and type of traffic using it, they may be fixed sooner.

However, potholes that require urgent attention because they represent an immediate or imminent hazard should be either repaired or made safe by the end of the next working day from when they are first assessed.

If a pothole is deemed to be an immediate danger to the public - such as if it is 7.5 centimetres deep or more - it should be made safe or repaired within two hours.

Yesterday an AA spokesman said: “The underlying problem with the current outbreak of potholes in the UK is the state of our roads.

“Because local authorities and the Highways Agency have constantly put off re-surfacing them, potholes get filled in only to return the next year.

“The actual problem is that the fabric needs resurfacing, rather than just using sticking plasters.”