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£1m pot-hole bill for Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 06:10 22 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:37 02 July 2010

£1m pothole bill for county council

£1m pothole bill for county council

Shaun Lowthorpe

Council chiefs in Norfolk are facing a £1m pot hole repair bill following the recent cold snap.

Highways engineers are now beginning to discover the scale of the damage caused to the county's 6000 mile road network following three weeks of snow before and after Christmas.

Council chiefs in Norfolk are facing a £1m pot hole repair bill following the recent cold snap.

Highways engineers are now beginning to discover the scale of the damage caused to the county's 6000 mile road network following three weeks of snow before and after Christmas.

Frosty weather is to blame for the potholes because water seeping into cracks on the road surface expands as it freezes.

Yesterday more than 50 road workers, some taken off other duties, were concentrating on pothole repairs across the county, while 10 highways inspectors have begun the task of assessing the damage, which has included the loss of chippings from some recently treated surfaces and other weather related defects.

Norfolk Count Council's ten highways inspectors have already begun the task of assessing the damage, which has included the loss of chippings from some recently treated surfaces, as well as potholes and other weather-related defects and the authority is keen to hear from members of the public about any potholes more than 3ins deep, which will require urgent action.

County Hall sets aside £875,000 a year on pothole repairs and the cold snap means that other repair programmes are likely to be hit because there is no money in the kitty to pay for them.

Roads in the Breckland area particularly around Watton have been particularly badly hit as have parts of the network around Broadland and Yarmouth.

Cold weather has also seen dozens more pot holes opening up in the Norwich with the county council handing an extra £25,000 to the city council to help tackle the problem.

Gritters were out again last night and with forecasters predicting more snow the final totals could be even higher.

But salt levels have been replenished following another shipment delivered to King's Lynn last weekend.

Adrian Gunson, the county council's cabinet member for planning and transportation, admitted the cold weather could cost the council dear and he may also have to seek more cash from the council coffers to meet the shortfall.

“The bad weather has cost us in the order of £1m in extra damage to the roads,” Mr Gunson said. “We will repair the potholes that exist but that means some of the non-vital work will be delayed or may not be done.

“Within the highways budget we will be robbing Peter to pay Paul,”

Our highways inspectors will be building up a picture of the whole network, but with 6,000 miles of road in Norfolk this is going to take some time. Our busiest routes get the most frequent inspections, but potholes can appear very quickly and we still rely upon people to report them to us.

“Once we have a clearer picture of the condition of the network we will have to review our position regarding resources and see whether we need to refocus our road maintenance programme for the months ahead."

Meanwhile in Suffolk's transport chiefs are hoping hope that the total bill to repair potholes in 2010 will be no more than last year's £1m.

Guy McGregor, the council's portfolio holder for transport said: “Our teams are working hard to fill in potholes that are reported to us - and we will be continuing to do that as needed.

“We do have a budget and we can't throw money around, but we will carry out emergency repairs whenever and wherever they are needed and then look at the cost of that at the end of the season.”

Green councillors in Norwich are calling for councils to provide more cashing to support gritting of pavements.

The cold snap saw a raft of complaints about the icy state of footpaths and on Tuesday the party is proposing a motion to the city council calling for additional grit boxes to be provided.

Green group leader Claire Stephenson said: “We need the county council to take the gritting of pavements much more seriously. I'm concerned about the reports of accidents from residents slipping on icy pavements. If there were more and better maintained grit boxes residents would more easily be able to grit pavements in their area and make them safe.”

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