This morning I watched three cars in front of me swerve to the other side of the road, in turn causing oncoming cars to swerve towards the ditch.
A cyclist was forced to dive into the hedge to avoid being hit. All the drivers had instinctively swerved to avoid an enormous, deep unmarked pothole that a month ago opened up for the fourth
time in a year on the busy main road.
A year ago my little car went over this same pothole, completely invisible in the dark and rainy night.
At that point, the hole had been there for weeks and had been reported to the council many times.
So deep and sharp was the hole that not only was my tyre punctured, the wheel itself was broken.
As I hung up the phone to the breakdown services, their truck pulled in behind me.
I had been told that as a lone female on the side of the road at night I’d be a priority but this seemed superhuman.
“You’re the third call I’ve had to this hole in an hour,” said the driver by way of explanation.
“I’d only got a few hundred yards up the road. With the size and position of that hole, I might as well just sit here for the whole of my shift because I guarantee more people are going to come a cropper.”
My wheel was too badly damaged to be repaired so I had to be towed home. I missed my appointment. Worse still, because I had after-sale wheels on my car, I couldn’t just replace one.
I had to buy four new wheels and then obviously four new tyres to match. Total cost, £580. The breakdown driver told me I should claim the cost from the council.
When I tried to do so, I received an email and a fat pack of paperwork with lots of advice which echoed the operator’s warning that without ‘proof of negligence’ they ‘very rarely’ pay out.
Even if they did, there was no chance of them paying for the other three (perfectly good) wheels and tyres.
I tried and failed for days to take a decent photo of the hole without being run over.
I suggested to the council that someone should come and look at the hole. No-one called me back.
During the year since my car was damaged, Chichester council has despatched a team three times to lob in a bit of tarmac which solves the problem temporarily.
Now this gaping hole is worse than ever.
We’ve all spent thousands of pounds repairing our own cars with no apology from our council – which has instead spent thousands of pounds of our money not quite mending the hole properly.
Let’s hope it doesn’t take an ambulance to persuade the council to take the problem seriously.