Council admits roads are ‘atrocious’

POTHOLES left over from last winter were still to be repaired when the latest freezing temperatures left town roads crumbling.

The situation is so bad that highways chiefs at Hartlepool Borough Council have admitted that roads have been left in an “atrocious” state after the latest winter freeze saw a huge rise in the number of potholes.

Today the Mail is re-launching its Plot the Pots campaign and we are urging you to let us know where there are potholes on town roads.

Huge holes in the road can be a danger to motorists and pedestrians and need to be repaired before anyone is hurt.

Council chiefs say the roads have been hit worst by the latest winter weather than for several years as temperatures went below -10C.

Potholes are caused when water gets into cracks in the surface of roads, before it freezes and expands, causing them to crumble away when they are driven over.

Council bosses say the ideal situation would see entire roads resurfaced instead of just patching repairs, but it would cost around £20m and the Government does not provide that much funding for road schemes.

The council will spend around £300,000 this year on pothole repairs, which does not include the £1m that is spend in the town on resurfacing complete stretches of roads.

It has a patching squad that works solely on repairing potholes five-days-a-week and bosses say they are constantly working on repairing them.

Mike Blair, the council’s highways, traffic and transport manager, said: “We were still dealing with potholes from last winter’s weather from January and February 2010 and we have been repairing them all year around.

“We run a patching gang and we are chasing our tails most of the time. We get to a certain point when we think we are getting on top of things and we get another freeze and there are a whole new generation of potholes arrived.

“People in the town know their roads are absolutely atrocious.”

Mr Blair said he would prefer to be able to resurface whole roads as covering potholes with patches only lasts for around two years as long as they are not hit by severe temperatures.

Regular surveys are carried out on road surfaces and potholes are categorised on how urgently they need to be repaired.

Potholes that are around an inch and a half deep and 12-inches long are aimed to be repaired within 24 hours. Council bosses aim to repair any other potholes within 28 days, and bosses say in the main they tend to reach their targets.

He added: “I expect in the next few weeks to be inundated with calls to my inspectors. They survey roads twice a year, so if we have just done one in December or before the snow, then it could be almost six months before we find them.

“It could be in people’s interest to give us a ring because we could get the work done quicker.”

Report potholes by calling the council on (01429) 523333.

l Mail view: Page 8