£1.4m spent on fixing potholes in West Sussex

Florence Road potholes.   Photo by Louise Adams
Florence Road potholes. Photo by Louise Adams

FILLING potholes cost the council nearly three times as much in 2013 than it did in the previous year.

A freedom of information request by the Observer revealed West Sussex Councty Council spent £1.4m fixing potholes in 2013 – compared to £500,000 in 2012.

This could be because 13,392 potholes were reported in 2012, but there were 40,371 in 2013.

When asked how many man hours were spent fixing potholes by the highways team in 2013, the council gave an estimate of 10,000 hours – basing it on an average of 15 minutes work per pothole.

After last week’s revelations by the Observer on the amount of compensation paid out to motorists because of potholes, the escalating issue last year cost the council a substantial amount of money.

From January to December 2013, £48,530.63 was paid out to motorists in compensation – compared to £25,247.61 the previous year.

A West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “More money was spent in 2013 compared to 2012 because there was about three times the number of potholes to fix.

“West Sussex suffered badly from extreme weather, both wet and cold, during 2013.

“It had a significant impact on the deterioration of the road surfaces that year.

“At times last year we had 12 pothole patrol gangs on duty making the roads safe and between January and the end of July we fixed about 40,000 potholes.”

The pothole situation got so bad in 2013, the council said they were struggling to cope with the number of reports.

County council cabinet member for highways and transport, Pieter Montyn, said at the time: “We are dealing with the havoc caused by some of the worst wet weather for over a century and while we cannot get on top of this situation overnight.”

But this year the council said it has been prepared for a pothole outbreak, and has already been ahead of the game.

County council deputy cabinet member for highways and transport, John O’Brien, said: “Cold or wet weather makes the deterioration of the road surface unavoidable in winter.

“We spend the rest of the year resurfacing and improving the roads in anticipation of this.

“We have planned and prepared for these problems, which is why we have made extra pothole patrol crews available to react to outbreaks whenever they appear.”

He said more potholes had been fixed than had been reported to the council this year – signalling that the council is finally getting on top of the pothole problem.

Motorists can report potholes in the area to West Sussex County Council by visiting www.love.westsussex.gov.uk