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"Thought I'd sort it out before a cyclist went through it!": Public-spirited local fills in pothole... council arrives an hour later to fix it

Devon County Council said it "cannot condone" DIY road repairs, confirming the concrete was dug out and the 20cm-deep hole repaired...

An Exeter man filled in a dangerous pothole outside his house in a bid to keep road users safe, only to spot a team of council workers sent out to repair the hole an hour later.

Paul Jackson said the roads near where he lives on Whipton Village Road are a "joke" and told Devon Live that he was fed up with hearing about how the hole with a depth of 15-20cm had damaged someone's car and had "become a safety concern for cyclists".

Last month, bodybuilder-turned-actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger added pothole repair to his CV, fixing a California hole outside his home. "After the whole neighbourhood has been upset about this giant pothole that's been screwing up cars and bicycles for weeks, I went out with my team and fixed it," Arnold said at the time. "I always say, let's not complain, let's do something about it."

Arnold Schwarzenegger pothole repairing (Twitter/Arnold Schwarzenegger)

On a similar line, Mr Jackson said it "shouldn't be down to us to fill in our own potholes" but asked "at what point does it become a safety concern for cyclists, motorbikes and damage to vehicles?"

"The pothole had damaged someone's car and had been reported by many people to the council. It was just a really bad pothole and was like it for weeks," he told the local news website.

"I'd had enough of driving into it and I'd read people claiming on damages to their cars on the Whipton Community Group Facebook page so thought I'd sort it out before a cyclist or motorbike went through it. I used a couple of bags of cement to fill it over.

"Lots of people passing were making positive comments but also mentioning the state of their road and potholes yet to be fixed. I believe someone may have contacted highways to report someone filling it in as they came about an hour after to fill the hole."

Shortly after he had finished filling in the hole, "two trucks and half a dozen workers came to cut it out and fill it back in".

"Was it a strange coincidence? They filled the other holes in the same area on different days bizarrely," he added.

A Devon County Council spokesperson urged residents not to carry out work on public roads. 

We cannot condone work being carried out on public roads without consent and anyone doing so is putting themselves and other road users at risk. This pothole was reported to our highways teams on Tuesday, May 2, and they repaired it on Wednesday, May 17, digging out the concrete before carrying out the repair.

We have additional crews carrying out pothole repairs across the county and they have filled more than 23,000 safety defects so far this year.

Potholes and the state of Britain's roads is a near constant discussion point within the cycling community, with crash injuries and fatalities highlighting the seriousness of the situation.

On January 2, 84-year-old Harry Colledge, the former president of Cleveleys Road Club and a "much loved" member of the north west of England cycling community, died after the front wheel of his Claud Butler bike got stuck in a deep crack in a rural Lancashire road, throwing him off and causing serious injuries.

Mr Colledge's wife Valerie called on the government and local authorities to do more to repair the UK's "woefully inadequate" roads, a sentiment also expressed by Mark Morrell, a leading pothole campaigner dubbed Mr Pothole, who called the road defects a "dangerous menace".

"I am sick to death of hearing from government and authorities saying repairing potholes is a priority then do very little to tackle the issue of our failing roads network," he said.

Pothole graffiti (supplied by road.cc reader)

> "Same question every winter": Cyclists slam "disgraceful" state of Britain's pothole-covered roads

In February, South Lanarkshire District Council's insurers agreed to settle a claim with an 80-year-old cyclist, offering compensation, after he suffered fractures to his face and spine in a crash caused by a pothole that Cycle Law Scotland discovered had been reported to the council and subject to temporary repairs a number of times, which failed on each occasion.

The local authority initially denied liability, until the law firm highlighted that the council's own records showed a history of road defects at the location, including immediately prior to John Johnstone's crash, and that as a result "the council could not possibly argue that they had not been aware of the issues."

In October, we reported that a coroner is to submit a report raising concerns about Surrey County Council's lack of action in repairing dangerous potholes, one of which caused a fatal cycling crash in June 2020.

> Dangerous pothole that caused fatal cycling crash was reported multiple times without action

Dr Karen Henderson said there had been a "lack of reflection by Surrey County Council", management of potholes had not improved and asked for better steps to make inspectors aware of complaints, risk assessments and better communication between the contact centre and highways department.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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7 comments

Avatar
wtjs | 1 year ago
4 likes

Wow! The road blemish displayed would raise no eyebrows on main roads in the centre of Garstang. Some may be surprised that I haven't been aggravating Lancashire CC about the roads but I never have, and I know where all the holes are by now and am careful about being soaked when vehicles speed through them. I'm still confining my efforts to exposing Lancashire Constabulary uselessness.

Avatar
KentRider replied to wtjs | 1 year ago
0 likes

I’ve taken the opposite approach to you. Kent Police don’t even provide means to submit video footage with a report these days. The online form allows only a written description, and if there was no collision they don’t request video (and hence NFA). Reporting close passes has become an utter waste of time.

Kent County Council, on the other hand, are quite responsive to pothole reporting, so that is how I now use my camera. I’ve concluded that it has a bigger impact on improving my safety for the time I spend on it. And it does consume time: reviewing video, taking stills, trying to pinpoint the location along featureless rural roads on KCC’s reporting map.

At the outset it felt as if any I reported would be a negligible drop in the ocean. But over time, I certainly have been able to substantially improve the state of the roads on most of the routes I ride regularly. I’ve reported about 500 faults in the last 3 years.

I wouldn’t say KCC are perfect: the quality of some repairs leaves much to be desired (many of the holes I report are failures of previous repairs); there are places that are endlessly patched instead of being properly resurfaced, resulting in ever expanding sections of rough, completely unrideable surfaces; they sometimes mark reports as “Works Completed” despite nothing having been done; and I’ve had some holes marked as “Works being programmed” for over a year before anything is actually done (despite their target being 28 days). But to be fair to them, their workload is enormous: 85,300 fault reports in the last 12 months.

Avatar
SurreyHiller | 1 year ago
6 likes

Was thinking about pot holes this morning on my way in.

Noticed that a particularly bad one had been filled in on my route in, but within literally 2m either side were areas where the tarmac was starting to crumble away and new ones were forming.  

While they had the traffic lights up, why not do those as well and save them needing a proper repair in a few months time?

I know it's down to contractors getting paid for only what they're supposed to fix, but why not change the model a bit so they can take photos of what they are repairing and report/claim back.

Something needs to change with the way the roads are being fixed.  Having teams out repairing individual ones, then coming back in 2 weeks for the one next to it is a massive waste of money and people's time (stuck in traffic, again)

Avatar
brooksby replied to SurreyHiller | 1 year ago
4 likes

SurreyHiller wrote:

Noticed that a particularly bad one had been filled in on my route in, but within literally 2m either side were areas where the tarmac was starting to crumble away and new ones were forming.  

A few weeks ago a small but very deep pothole was being dealt with by a couple of blokes with a council van.  I pointed at a couple of very similar holes nearby - one was right in front of where they'd parked their van - and they explained that those holes weren't on their work roster so they weren't allowed to touch them "but we'll probably be back in a couple of weeks...".

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STATO replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
0 likes

While it would be great to get nearby holes fixed, as we know 'nearby' just continues on and on, where do they stop?  If they took that apporach on every job, they probably still wouldnt have got to the fix you were able to comment on.  They cant win really with the budgets available.

Avatar
I love my bike replied to SurreyHiller | 1 year ago
2 likes

Well, if only cyclists paid 'road tax' . . . all the roads would be silky smooth.

Yeah, right. Don't think so.

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chrisonabike replied to I love my bike | 1 year ago
2 likes

Sometimes I think we need more potholes. Much bigger ones.

Combined with a lot more separate cycle paths and footways.

After all I wouldn't want to freeload on "motor vehicle paths", damaging the dedicated motor vehicle infra with my bike while not paying any road tax. Anyone can see that wouldn't be sustainable!

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