'Hit squads' to repair Wiltshire roads before freeze comes

Wiltshire Times: Reporter Craig Jones with a recently-repaired pothole Reporter Craig Jones with a recently-repaired pothole

Heavy rainfall has caused at least £2 million worth of damage to Wiltshire’s roads in recent weeks, according to Wiltshire Council.

The council announced today it was invested an extra £250,000 to repair the damage, in addition to the £52 million increase in road spending announced last November.

Four specialist two-person ‘pothole hit-squads’ from the council’s maintenance contractor Balfour Beatty Living Places will be dispatched around the county to fill in the worst of the damage.

Armed with supplies of water-based road repair material, which can be used where potholes are still full of water, they will be targeting damage which can be repaired quickly without the need to close roads.

There are over 2,750 miles of roads in the county which Wiltshire Council has responsibility for, and it has dealt with over 1,000 flooding-related incidents in the last fortnight.

Cabinet member for highways Councillor John Thomson, said: “The prolonged period of heavy rain and flooding has clearly damaged our road network – estimated at up to £2 million.

“The risk is that figure will increase rapidly and significantly if a forecast cold spell causes the water still in the potholes to freeze.”

“Therefore we are using the window of opportunity now that the worst of the flooding is abating to redeploy some of those teams to filling potholes, with the priority on those where there is a clear safety issue to road users.

“Getting teams out repairing damage caused by the heavy rain is clearly a sensible thing to do in the short-term.

“However, the best way to reduce potholes and other damage to our roads is through long-term investment and that is why we as a council are spending that additional £52 million over the next six years to ensure Wiltshire’s roads are not just maintained but improved.”

Last week Councillor Philip Whitehead, the portfolio holder responsible for the highways contract apologised to the Chippenham Area Board for problems with the council’s new app, which was designed to help report problems on the roads.

Potholes can be reported through the council’s CLARENCE helpline on 0800 232323, via email on clarence@wiltshire.gov.uk, or through the app.

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