Norfolk faces �1m pot-hole bill

Shaun LowthorpeCouncil chiefs in Norfolk are facing a �1m pot hole repair bill following the recent cold snap.Highways engineers are now beginning to discover the scale of the damage caused to the county's 6000 mile road network following three weeks of snow before and after Christmas.Shaun Lowthorpe

Council chiefs in Norfolk are facing a �1m pothole repair bill following the recent cold snap.

Highways engineers are now beginning to discover the scale of the damage caused to the county's 6,000- mile road network following three weeks of snow before and after Christmas.

Frosty weather is to blame for the potholes because water seeping into cracks on the road surface expands as it freezes.

Yesterday more than 50 road workers, some taken off other duties, were concentrating on pothole repairs across the county, while 10 highways inspectors have begun the task of assessing the damage, which has included the loss of chippings from some recently treated surfaces and other weather-related defects.

The authority is keen to hear from members of the public about any potholes more than three inches deep, which will require urgent action.

County Hall sets aside �875,000 a year on pothole repairs and the cold snap means that other repair programmes are likely to be hit because there is no money in the kitty to pay for them.

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Roads in the Breckland area, particularly around Watton, have been particularly badly hit, as have parts of the network around Broadland and Great Yarmouth.

Cold weather has also seen dozens more potholes opening up in Norwich with the county council handing an extra �25,000 to the city council to help tackle the problem.

Gritters were out again last night and with forecasters predicting more snow the final totals could be even higher.

But salt levels have been replenished following another shipment delivered to King's Lynn last weekend.

Adrian Gunson, the county coun-cil's cabinet member for planning and transportation, admitted the cold weather could cost the council dear and he may also have to seek more cash from the council coffers to meet the shortfall.

"The bad weather has cost us in the order of �1m in extra damage to the roads," Mr Gunson said. "We will repair the potholes that exist but that means some of the non-vital work will be delayed or may not be done.

"Within the highways budget we will be robbing Peter to pay Paul," he said. "Our highways inspectors will be building up a picture of the whole network, but with 6,000 miles of road in Norfolk this is going to take some time. Our busiest routes get the most frequent inspections, but potholes can appear very quickly and we still rely upon people to report them to us."

Meanwhile in Suffolk, transport chiefs are hoping hope that the total bill to repair potholes in 2010 will be no more than last year's �1m.

Guy McGregor, the council's portfolio holder for transport said: "We do have a budget and we can't throw money around, but we will carry out emergency repairs whenever and wherever they are needed and then look at the cost of that at the end of the season."

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