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The Pothole Busters start work

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POTHOLE busters will be descending on roads in the area to tackle the state of the streets.

Work started yesterday on fixing up roads in Fareham, Gosport, Havant and Waterlooville after the heaviest winter rainfall for 250 years left the county’s thousands of miles of roads in a poor state.

Hampshire County Council is now tackling the problem by employing 80 gangs of workers called pothole busters – more than twice the usual number.

And it’s thought the move will see an extra 200 people given jobs to see the work completed on time.

Executive member for transport, Councillor Sean Woodward, met workers from Amey, which has taken on the contract from Hampshire County Council, to see the teams in action.

Highway engineers Tom Castle, 59, and Alan Love, 49, said the roads were in the worst state they had seen since being employed six years ago.

Mr Castle, from Winchester, said: ‘It’s been most hectic with the floods.

‘The same crews were involved with the clearing up from the floods and the storm damage, and keeping up with the usual winter maintenance. It’s been very busy.’

Cllr Woodward said: ‘We have had the worst damage that the county council has ever seen. It looks after 5,200 miles of roads, many of which are country lanes and weren’t built to withstand such weather. It has been the worst year in council records.’

The contract needs to be fulfilled by the end of August.

Extra equipment such as jetpatcher machines – a machine that blasts filler into potholes – is being used to make speedy repairs. Another machine which takes the surface off the road and digs and fills behind, called a multihog, will also be used.

The estimated cost to fix the county’s roads and flood defences is estimated to be about £63m, and the council has already had £11.5m from the government.

Council leader Roy Perry said: ‘Getting £11.5m is a helpful first step and we’ll be bidding for more resources, bearing in mind we estimate that another £25m, or more, is needed to fix damaged roads alone.’

The council hopes to bid for money from a further government fund of £200m announced in the 2014 budget.

Portsmouth City Council said its scheme for fixing potholes would fall under its current contract with Colas.

The AA said that insurance claims for pothole-related damage to cars have risen five-fold in early 2014 compared with the end of 2013, with an average of 173 insurance claims per week, compared with 33 per week over November and December last year.

A survey of 23,911 AA members in March found 40 per cent rated their roads as being in a terrible state - 11 per cent up from the previous year’s survey.

Tyre safety campaign group TyreSafe warned that the new funds are not enough to stop damage to cars.

TyreSafe chairman Stuart Jackson said: ‘While extra funds to help repair the UK’s roads is welcome news, this will not happen overnight.

‘It’s critical that drivers pay particular attention to the condition of their tyres and wheels as hitting a pothole can cause significant damage.

‘If this damage is left unchecked it can present a very serious safety risk for them and other road users.’

The pothole busters will be coming to these streets next:

Brook Street, Bishop’s Waltham

Tewkesbury Avenue, Fareham

Pennington Way, Fareham

South Street, Gosport,

Brookside, Bridgemary

Milton Road, Waterlooville

Hazleton Way, Waterlooville

London Road, Waterlooville

Mill Road, Waterlooville

Warfield Avenue, Waterlooville

If you see a pothole, report it by going online at www3.hants.gov.uk/roads/potholes or by calling 0845 603 5638. In Portsmouth, call the council on (023) 9282 2251.

 

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