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Revealed: Pothole compensation pay-outs rocket in Norfolk after Beast from the East - here’s where every one happened

PUBLISHED: 11:44 16 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:15 16 January 2019

A pothole that appeared in Banham in 2016. Photo: Sonya Duncan

A pothole that appeared in Banham in 2016. Photo: Sonya Duncan

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

The damage to our roads from last year’s Beast from the East has been revealed, with hundreds more potholes around the county and compensation pay-outs for drivers rocketing by more than 250pc.

According to figures from Norfolk County Council, released under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the sum rose from £22,933 in 2017 to £83,447 - a 264pc increase.

The council said figures are dated by when a claim is settled, so does not necessarily mean that the incidents behind the 421 pay-outs - of which just 67 are dated from 2017 - happened in that year.

But the increase is reflected in the amount spent on repairing potholes in the same period, which rose by 60pc, from £730,911 in 2017 to £1.2m last year.

And the number of reports of potholes rocketed by 84pc - up from 5,099 in 2017 to 9,413 last year.

Debbie Christie discovered this pothole in Billingford. Photo: SubmittedDebbie Christie discovered this pothole in Billingford. Photo: Submitted

It comes after the RAC warned last spring that the Beast from the East, which swept the country in late February and early March, would leave a legacy of potholes around the country, warning that it could “see the emergence of almost as many potholes as daffodils”.

MORE: Forecasters warn new Beast from the East could bring snow and freezing temperatures

While claims were made across most of the county, certain roads were hit particularly hard - including a stretch of the B1145, near Dereham, where there were 29 claims in the two years.

The B1108 Watton Road, in Norwich, also saw 24 claims in that period.

Snow and ice are considered the worst weather conditions for exacerbating already poor road surfaces. Potholes are caused when water penetrates the asphalt surface of a road through cracks, caused by traffic.

When temperatures plunge, the water freezes, and expands, causing the surface to rupture.

Dr Peter Wade Martins. Picture: Nick ButcherDr Peter Wade Martins. Picture: Nick Butcher

It has led to fears that, if councils are not able to keep up with repairs, road conditions will worsen further if another Beast from the East hits this year.

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council said there had been a “marked increase” in potholes nationally “as a result of the extreme weather faced with the Beast from the East”.

As a result, central government granted the council £3.4m last April, they said, and another £12.7m as part of the autumn budget.

“This has allowed us to supplement our 27 patching gangs with four velocity patching machines to got potholes filled as quickly as possible,” they said. “The additional funding has allowed us to carry out more resurfacing work which may have otherwise been scheduled for a later date.”

When asked if they felt road conditions in Norfolk were good, they cited the 2018 National Highways and Transport survey, which ranked Norfolk County Council sixth for road conditions and fourth for overall satisfaction, out of 28 county councils that took part.

MORE: AA’s profits plunge after cold weather and ‘epidemic’ of potholes

Grove Road, Beccles, covered in snow from the Beast from the East
. Picture: Nick ButcherGrove Road, Beccles, covered in snow from the Beast from the East . Picture: Nick Butcher

The FOI figures do not cover trunk roads such as the A11 and A47, which are managed by Highways England.

In a separate FOI made by the RAC late last year, Highways England said pothole payouts nationally rose from £60,000 in 2016/17 up to £164,000 in 2017/18.

The county council said it welcomed reports of potholes, and said the easiest way to do so was by visiting www.norfolk.gov.uk/potholes

The Beast from the East hits Attleborough. Photo: Denise BradleyThe Beast from the East hits Attleborough. Photo: Denise Bradley

Was this the Beast from the East’s worst victim?

With 29 pay-outs in two years, the vast majority in 2018, a stretch of the B1145 was - at one point - the worst road in the county for potholes.

Billingford Road, between Brisley and Bawdeswell, was, until recently, littered with potholes.

Dr Peter Wade Martins, who is on North Elmham Parish Council, said: “The last year has been very difficult, with lots of potholes and endless requests to county highways to have them fixed, but not really achieving much. That is until recently, and I have to say that they have all been filled now.”

He said he believed the cold weather last spring had caused many of the problems.

“It was a very cold winter, and highways had some catching up to do,” he said. “It has taken many months to get those potholes filled.”

He said it had been a nightmare for local drivers, and while things had improved, a better system for reporting potholes, one which included feedback on progress, was needed.

Have you been affected? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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