£20k compensation pot for holey roads

This Is Wiltshire: Coun Nina Phillips next to a pothole in Bristol Road, Chippenham Coun Nina Phillips next to a pothole in Bristol Road, Chippenham

Wiltshire Council has paid out nearly £20,000 in compensation for more than 500 claims of cars damaged by potholes in the past two years.

About £14,100 was awarded for 253 claims made in 2011. Last year this rose to 291 claims with about £5,550 paid out so far and more to be dealt with.

And after the flooding, snow and ice in the first few weeks of 2013, further claims are expected.

Paul Maple, who was visiting Chippenham from Melksham last week, said: “I was driving down Station Hill in the dark and I hit a pothole with such a clout.”

The motorist, who is also a keen cyclist, said it was dangerous to cycle on the roads.

He said: “It rattled my car, so imagine what it’s like with two wheels.

“There’s a 15ft stretch along there cracking up – two potholes are about eight inches across. They didn’t appear overnight, it must have been neglected.

“It is an appalling, but not untypical, example of how Wiltshire’s roads are becoming a disgrace and an accident waiting to happen.”

And in a message directed at highways officials, he said: “Stop patching the same holes annually, and fix them properly.”

He suggested the council use its compensation budget to do this.

Wiltshire councillor for Monkton Park, Chris Caswill, said in addition to the bad weather, the pothole problem on Station Hill and Cocklebury Road had worsened after work began on a new station car park, bringing in extra vehicles.

He said: “There’s cement lorries going up there now.

“The station is busy and with a new car park there will be even more traffic.

“It’s already in a really bad state, worse than last year. It’s a busy road, the only way out of Monkton Park.”

In 2009, after a two-year campaign, the road surface was replaced between the nearby Cowleaze flats and Eastern Avenue, he said, but the council had not continued the rest of the road.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Council said council officers would be inspecting roads where problems were reported.

They are making temporary repairs now and would do more permanent repairs once the weather improved.

The council has a budget of £900,000 a year specifically for potholes and is responsible for a network of 2,750 roads.

About £12 million will be spent surfacing and repairing these roads this year. This includes an extra £2.4 million from the Government because of the recent flooding.

Dick Tonge, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “The additional £2.4m will enable us to resurface more mileage, making the roads more water and ice-resistant, leading to fewer potholes in the future years.”

Chippenham mayoress Nina Phillips said: “Any work done at the moment with this awful weather is a waste of time.

“Temporary fixes are all the council can do until the weather gets better.”

Potholes can be reported by calling 0800 232323 or 01225 777234 or at https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/parkingtransportandstreets/highwaysreportingform.htm

They can also be reported at www.fixmystreet.com where they will be passed on to the council.

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