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Potholes dig into council budgets
pothole in the road
Potholes can cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage to cars

Recent snow and ice has caused more potholes to form on the county's roads forcing councils to spend more time and money on fixing them.

In Bath and North East Somerset Council's budget proposals an extra £3m has been set aside for highways maintenance for the new financial year.

The unitary authority also wants to use £500,000 of next year's budget for this financial year to repair the roads now.

Somerset County Council has employed 25 more specialist teams to fix them.

'Loud bump'

How potholes are formed

raindrops on road surface
As tarmac ages, it gets more porous. Rainwater penetrates cracks caused by constant traffic use.
ice symbols on cracked road surface
When water freezes it expands. More cracks form and the tarmac is pushed outwards like a bubble.
hole created in road surface
The ice thaws creating voids, or gaps, under the surface. These get larger with each freeze-thaw cycle.
tyre above hole in road surface
Traffic causes tarmac to collapse and form a pothole which gets larger as more traffic rolls over it.
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In December, Somerset County Council reported 737 potholes were identified for repair and a further 217 were reported by members of the public.

No figures available on how many more the council is dealing with because of the snow.

The number of potholes being reported has gone up in North Somerset since the cold spell, where teams from the local authority are trying to repair 10 to 20 a day.

The cost of potholes isn't just restricted to repairing them.

Councils are also obliged to keep the county's roads in good condition which can leave them open to compensation claims from motorists.

Mark Spurlock, from Frome, had two of his tyres ruined.

"Coming along late one Sunday afternoon, I moved over to let one car come through from the opposite direction, my car then dropped away on the side of the road into an enormous pothole probably about eight inches deep.

"I heard a loud bump in the car and as I went along I felt that both tyres had completely deflated."

As a result of this, the Somerset County Council indicated it would accept liability for the damage caused.

Car garages in Somerset have also reported an increase in repairs caused by potholes.

Ken Tyler, a mechanic from Bridgwater Tyre and Exhaust, said: "We've had an increase in tyre replacement because of the cold weather conditions but what we have noticed is an upward trend in the last two weeks of damaged wheels and damaged tyres caused by potholing.

"Normally we would see this once every blue moon but we're seeing at least three to five a day which we're putting down to the state of the roads' surfaces."

Meanwhile all councils in Somerset are encouraging motorists to call them if they do spot a pothole.

The contact numbers are below:

For BANES area call 01225 394041 or text 07797 806545.

Somerset County Council area potholes can be reported by logging on to the Somerset County Council website or by ringing 0845 345 9155.

For the North Somerset Council area contact Streets and Open Spaces on 01934 888 802.

Why is snow so bad for potholes?
12 Jan 10 |  Magazine
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15 Jan 10 |  Magazine

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