Council slams claims that Essex town’s potholes would take ’88 years’ to fix

Essex County Council has slammed claims that Basildon’s potholes would take “88 years” to fix if continued at the current rate.

On Thursday (January 28), leader of Basildon Borough Council Cllr Gavin Callaghan targeted Essex County Council – the organisation responsible for repairing Essex’s roads – for its alleged slow repairs on the town’s roads.

He posted on Facebook: “At the current rate of repair, it would take Essex County Council more than 88 years to complete all of the current road repairs in the Basildon Borough alone.

“And that’s without a single other road defect being reported between now and the year 2109.

“We give these guys £80 million a year from Basildon taxpayers. Is that value for money?”

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Cllr Callaghan has long since been an advocate of Basildon, Essex, becoming a unitary authority, meaning that it would control all local issues without the influence of Essex County Council.

The council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Kevin Bentley, reacted to Cllr Callaghan’s claims, saying that his comments were untrue.

He told Essex Live: “Councillor Callaghan’s assertion on social media of how long it would take to fix every pothole in Basildon is wrong, but we are happy to help him out with the facts.

“It would actually take just 68 weeks to repair every single reported pothole in the borough, no matter how small.

“Last year we fixed 11,516 potholes across Essex and 1,156 in Basildon.

“We also completed 19 resurfacing schemes, despite postponements due to Covid-19.”

How do potholes form?

Potholes are created when ground water expands and contracts, weakening the ground under the road surface that eventually breaks down due to the weight of vehicles driving on the road.

The creation of them is particularly prevalent in winter as water under the ground freezes causing it to expand and erode the soil under the road, it then contracts when it thaws, creating weak points and gaps under the road surface.

Vehicles heading over the weakened part of the ground cause the road itself to weaken, causing the surface of the road to be broken down from the weight, creating the pothole.

The more times the water under the road surface freezes and thaws the more damage can be done to the ground under the road.

According to the office of the Summit County Engineer in Ohio, USA the problem is worsened when salt is used to treat icy conditions.

On their website they said: “When salt is used, it lowers the temperature that water will freeze.

“This creates an artificial freeze-thaw cycle that permits more occurrences of the damaging cycle to occur.”

He also gave information about the upcoming schemes in the Basildon borough, saying: “There are five smaller surfacing schemes to come in March and one full road resurfacing.

“In April, further resurfacing schemes will begin in Basildon which will not only remove existing potholes but will prevent them forming for years to come.

“Brimsdown Avenue is one street on our pothole repair list, having been put forward by local County Councillor Jeff Henry.

“This is part of a successful councillor-led scheme to speed up repairs to local roads.

“An inspector is due on site soon to re-assess the road surface.

“Our priority remains safety related work, but the county councillor-led scheme means that repairs will be carried out across Essex throughout the Spring.”

Essex Live