/ Motoring

Potholes: are you tired of ropey road surfaces?


Recent research by the Local Government Association has concluded that it’ll take 14 years and cost £12bn to fix all the potholes in England and Wales. But it does seem as though there are a lot of potholes about. So do ropey road surfaces drive you mad?

Being both a cyclist and a motorist, potholes have become a bane of my life. I’m either narrowly avoiding going under the wheels of a bus when I swerve them on my bike, or risking being rear-ended when I slam on the brakes of my car in an effort to drive over them slowly to save my poor axle, suspension and tyres.

Problems with potholes

Only recently, my cousin was complaining to me about the state of the road leading to her home in a village in East Sussex and how no one seemed to be fixing the potholes any more.

I told her the problem wasn’t just local to her: I had to negotiate them a lot more frequently in London, too. I then wondered (embarrassingly, out loud), why, if the road tax on my car continued to rise pretty much every year (so therefore must do for everyone else), this revenue wasn’t being used to repair the roads.

Of course, I was soon corrected: road tax doesn’t pay for pothole/road repairs on local roads – the town, city or county council does.

And, it seems, that due to years of underfunding and bad weather, the average council in England and Wales is facing a one-off bill of £69m to bring its roads up to a reasonable standard.

In fact, such is the backlog that new research by the Local Government Association (LGA) states it would take 14 years and cost £12bn to fix all the potholed roads in both countries.

Despite budget cuts, the LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, says that councils are filling and patching up more potholes than ever – one every 15 seconds at a cost of around £55 per hole – but has called for urgent longer-term investment.

In a recent discussion about bumpy roads and speed humps, one Which? Conversation Community member, Wavechange, called for action on potholes:

‘I would certainly join a campaign to get potholes fixed having required a catalytic converter shortly after driving over a pothole that was not obvious because it was full of water.’

The fact is, that while it may take a considerable amount of money to repair our roads, potholes are also taking a toll on our cars. Earlier this month, the RAC Foundation revealed that in the past year alone more than 31,000 claims were made to local councils for damage to vehicles caused by poor road conditions. Councils paid out in a quarter of cases, with the average settlement being £306.

The RAC also found that the number of vehicle breakdowns caused by pothole-related damage had more than doubled in the past 10 years. And it’s estimated that potholes cost British motorists £684m each year.

Repairing the damage

So what’s being done about our holey roads?

Well, the LGA is calling for extra funding – it wants the government to put funding of local roads on the same footing as main roads, and for 2p per litre of fuel duty to be given to councils for maintenance and repairs.

For those based in Devon, you may have spotted a clean-up operation on your holey roads with an army of volunteer ‘Community Road Wardens’ out repairing your roads. The county council is recruiting and training these volunteers, supplying them with the materials and equipment to fill the holes it can’t afford to mend itself.

So, what do you think – are we doomed to forever be dodging these perilous potholes? Do ropey road surfaces wind you up? Has your car been damaged by a pothole before? Did you claim the damage from the council? Would you voluntarily repair your local roads under a scheme like the one in Devon?

Has your car been damaged by a pothole?

Yes (53%, 415 Votes)

No (34%, 267 Votes)

Don't know (13%, 103 Votes)

Total Voters: 785

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I am fully supportive of tackling the pothole problem but I wonder if to what extent the move to low profile tyres has contributed to the damage to wheels.

Low profile tyres have become a little more of a fashion and will lead to more damage, whether from potholes or kerbs. Apart from damage they don’t give a comfortable ride. The main problems with potholes, in my view, is hazards to two-wheeled vehicles ( and the few 3 wheelers around), cost of replacing damaged tyres, wheels (cracked alloys as well as deformed ones that can lead to loss of pressure), springs, steering geometry. But I still maintain we do not have a bottomless moneybox. If someone can convince me otherwise………… So we need to concentrate on where we find the funds from and how we can maybe use unemployed people, community service, those in custody, perhaps to give something back to society as well as using conventional labour.

Maybe even make repairing potholes for a day or two one option for modest speeding and other motoring offences instead of a fine, points and retraining?

There are obvious safety considerations, but I can see no reasons why volunteers could not be trained to carry out temporary repairs which will continue to be needed even if the plan is to do major repairs. There would need to be a supervisor, appropriate training and diversions until the work had been done.

Rather than treating this as a punishment, I would prefer that this was offered as one of the many ways that people can give something back to the community. A charity that I’m involved with has done repairs on several paths that have been damaged mainly by vehicles . We don’t use tarmac because that is out of place in Sites of Special Scientific Interest. For a bigger task involving levelling as well as repairs, we brought in a national group of volunteers for a weekend, hired machinery and arranged accommodation at a school or village hall during the vacation. That has saved the landowner employing an expensive contractor and in return they have helped us with projects that we could not have tackled ourselves.

There are many opportunities where volunteers can save public money and give something back to the community. There can be resentment from paid staff who are concerned that jobs could be lost and also entrenched views that only professionals can do a good job.

Mustafa says:
10 November 2016

Malcolm r, See below………

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I’ve just driven over a stretch of road where there were”clusters” or 7 or 8 small pothole repairs all next to each other and touching. probably 5 clusters over a short stretch of carriageway. Presumably they were priced by size so the common-sense solution of repairing the whole piece was subverted by thoughtless economics. Only guessing but why else would you produce such a patchwork quilt?

I’m no expert but I guess that small repairs can be done quickly and without heavy machinery, which would take longer to arrange. It is also possible that the patches have been done at different times.

Replacing a length of carriageway because a few potholes have appeared could be an expensive exercise. Hopefully roads are inspected by experts who can decide on the most cost effective solution.

I’m going out with an engineer at the crack of dawn tomorrow. She will be assessing the condition of both listed and non-listed structures to decide whether repairs are needed and what the priority is. If in doubt, a specialist will be brought in.

The overall size of the group of patches was no more than a large pot hole. As it is we now have patches of uneven road that are likely to deteriorate more rapidly. I doubt experts were involved otherwise I’d despair at the use of the term.

@wavechange, check out Ultra Crete Pothole Repair Black 25KG on Screwfix. The finer the grain the better as it is less likely to break apart and I think I last used a 3mm grade stone.

The latest review is more or less how I have repaired potholes except I already had bitumen glue to line the hole after hoovering or brushing out all the loose stuff. A metal mallet for a small hole or tamper for a large hole to pack it down then seal the edge of the repair and sift road dust over the wet glue.

Thanks Alfa. I knew that it was not necessary to use heat for pothole repairs but have not watched the job being done. I have seen circles of glue around pothole repairs, so presumably this is the modern replacement for hot tarmac. If the surface is not breaking up, repairs sometimes last a long time.

alfa, are you a regular pot hole repairer?

I suggest Ian. He often mentions his musical interests and maybe he has perfect pitch. Just what’s needed to mend roads. 🙂

Alfa – Do you also do brick-weave paving repairs? I have a manhole cover with inset paviours that needs some attention.

Contractors now have vehicle-mounted machines that do the whole pothole repair job from excavating and vacuuming out the broken fill, putting in the bitumen lining. backfilling with roadstone, packing and tamping, laying a hot asphalt sub-course and a wearing course including aggregate, levelled, tamped and compressed. All the operative has to do is put out and recover the safety cones and warning signs, and paint the edges with bitumen sealant when the machine has finished, and then sweep up. My dentist obviously worked on the roads in his younger days.

Mustafa says:
10 November 2016

Where will you find an expert?

Malcolm, the council don’t maintain our road, and I just decided to have a go at mending it some years ago. I now have a problem gripping anything for long so haven’t done them for a while.

LOL John W !!!, thought you were being serious for a moment 🙂 Perhaps road repairers should do a course in dentistry before being let loose on the roads.

I was being serious about the machine used for fixing potholes, Alfa, and it occurred to me that the technique was similar to dental cavity repairs although the scale (!) and materials might differ. I hope you are getting a rebate on your Council Tax if you live on an unadopted road not maintained at public expense.

Taking the dental analogy further, I wonder if it might be possible to install the equivalent of implants to provide a neat and effective repair of small potholes where the road is in otherwise good condition. Cut out a circular hole surrounding the pothole to the required depth, clear the hole of debris, insert a tough plug of the required diameter bedded in adhesive and press it into place. Conventional repairs seem to fail because the surrounding road is already deteriorating and the repair is not tough enough to survive for long.

I have to confess, I have never seen a machine used for fixing potholes and as they exist, should be mandatory for repairing potholes. The repairs might last a lot longer than a man and his boot heel.

We do not get a rebate on our Council Tax. The council would rather spend money on installing pavements and street lights than give us a rebate.

Don’t think plugs would work too well. Not far from the surface can be found stones of all shapes and sizes.

OK. Cancel that suggestion. 🙂

Ron Storr says:
9 November 2016

As a road legal Mobility Scooter user, I feel sure pothples are not only difficult to miss with my4 yeaqr old 3 wheeler model but are responsible for recent damage to the circuitry ( ie. broken connections and bad controller joints. This also applies to some pavements too.

Duncan Smith says:
10 November 2016

People in UK, open your eyes and stop accepting everything that is thrown at you!!!!
The last figures i got (abroad of course about the UK) was that they take in around £55 Billion every year from road tax and spend around £5 billion on the roads for building, repairing etc, so where has the other £50 billions gone? Perhaps on the 2,5 millions in UK on incapacity benefit, around 500,000 are genuine the other 2 million are cheats, the cost of this is £50 billion per year, oh and then i have seen quite a few of your UK MPs (scum) sitting in business class flights sipping Champange (David Milliband was another) at the tax payers expense, when asked how much his ticket cost him he said it was nice to meet me, i then told him twice that i didnt feel the same way and that parasites like him should be in jail, do you really think they would fly that way if they had to pay the fare themselves…………NEVER!
As for fixing your pot holes, take a lesson from Sweden/Norway and Finland where they never fix a pothole when its damp or raining as water expands when frozen, take note UK!! No wonder everything is broken and cant be fixed, all the money has been squandered

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Duncan Smith says:
10 November 2016

Yeah, probably be alot of Hillary clinton and nicola sturgeon supporters writing to me now lol!

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Duncan Smith says:
10 November 2016

Haha brilliant Duncan

There’s no such thing as road tax. There’s Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) which brings in about £6 billion per year but the link between it and road repair/building hasn’t existed since 1937. George Osborne promised it would be reinstated in 2020 but what might happen now is anyone’s guess.

I suppose Scandinavian politicians always travel Cattle Class?

Duncan Smith says:
10 November 2016

I dont know where you got your information and figures from Phil, maybe the Beano? And if you ever go to Scandinavia you are quite likely to see a politician in what you call cattle class (btw business and 1st class is to the left as you board a plane and where the UK mp parasites sit) The Swedish, Norwegian and Icelandic PM insists on flying with their people in cattle class even though they are suppose to fly business class, now there you have non pretentious people (take note uk parasites) Ask Tony Blair to contribute some of his stolen cash from the british tax payer to fix the pot-holes, think he has 80 houses now at last count………….

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My information and figures come from the National Statistics Office. Might I ask where yours came from?

I’ve not been able to discover much about the travel arrangements of Scandinavian politicos except that each nation either keeps or leases a small fleet of executive jets for their exclusive use. I also have to say that if I was a Norwegian taxpayer I’d be pretty annoyed about paying my PM the better part of £170,000 pa to play a kids’ game on her ‘phone whilst she should be working.


According to a House of Commons briefing paper issued in July 2015, “The Treasury raised £5.9 billion from VED in 2014-15; it expects this to fall in the short term but to increase to £6.3 billion by 2020-21“.

According to a National Audit Office report in June 1014, spending on Motorways and Trunk Roads runs at about £3 billion a year and on other roads maintained by local highway authorities at about £3-4 billion [about 30% of which is funded by local authorities through Council Tax].

The government revenue from fuel duty was £27.1 billion for the financial year 2014-2015. A further £3.9 billion is raised from the VAT on the duty.

In the Summer Budget 2015, the government announced plans for a significant reform of the VED banding structure and longer-term plans to recreate the link between vehicle taxation and spending on the road network. The new Chancellor of the Exchequer might have other ideas.

So, broadly, VED is being spent on the maintenance of roads and street lighting but fuel duty is going straight into the Exchequer for spending on national government purposes.

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Thanks John, I think that answers the other Duncan’s question.

As for the Scandinavian politicos he so admires I can find nothing about their travel arrangements other than each state either keeps or leases a small fleet of executive jets for their exclusive use. I also have to say that if I were a Norwegian taxpayer I’d be pretty annoyed at paying my PM the better part of £170,000 pa to play a kids’ video game when she should be working.


I’m not sure there’s any argument in common law that taxes collected from any activity have to be spent on items relating to that activity. To the best of my knowledge the duty and tax on tobacco is not hypothecated to treating lung cancer besides which vehicles damage more than roads. They damage the built environment and what of the 24,000 or so killed and seriously injured on UK roads every year? A fatality is said to cost the nation £1.5 million, somebody seriously injured who needs a lifetime of care probably much more. Then there are the tens of thousands (estimates vary) who die as a result of air pollution to which traffic is a major contributor.

Most of the cost of this falls upon the NHS so it seems only fair that road users contribute.

I agree, Phil. Parliament is supreme and can substitute statute law for common law. The Finance Act 1936 broke the link between the original Road Fund Tax and highways spending. Excise duties are just other forms of government revenue and can be applied to expenditure in whatever way Parliament approves through the annual budgets enshrined in Finance Acts. The money needs to be raised somehow and if it didn’t come from motor taxes other sources would need to be identified. The way roads are funded at present means that people who do not have a motor car do not have to make any payments towards the upkeep of the roads except through their Council Tax [which is probably just enough to cover footways, street lighting, pedestrian crossings, traffic signals, street cleansing, and public transport subsidies].

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I disagree with you, Duncan. Statute law is written down and more certain. Common law is vague and uncertain. Some of Thomas Hardy’s characters suggested that there was a primordial connection between the citizen and ancient laws, but I don’t think that view prevails today, and in any case the only law that can be created now is statute law. Judicial law is an just interpretation and only survives until Parliament replaces it with an amendment or new legislation if necessary.

Nevertheless taxes, whether income, NI, capital gains, corporation, vat, …and duty are all used to fund running the UK, irrespective of from where they emanate. There is not some magic bottomless pot of money that allows us to spend what we like, unless we want to get into even more debt to hand on to our offspring.

When we are in austere times I would like to see abandoning the principle of universal benefits. I think those who can easily afford to pay for prescriptions, for example, should do so and help the NHS. Those with more than adequate pensions should forgo the state pension and help those who are struggling. Those with ample means do not need the winter fuel payment; others are more deserving. Whilst it may not raise the vast sums needed to put right ailing services (HS2, nuclear defence, some foreign aid, might all help) we could go some way to seeing all who can do contribute to the recovery.

I used to live in Surrey, where the standard of road maintenance was desperately poor. My local garage told me that they were replacing three damaged road wheels every week, and the tyre supplier next door pointed to a huge pile of wrecked tyres which he said were mostly damaged beyond repair because of potholes.

I collected articles and letters from the Surrey Advertiser over a period of about three years; there were 130 of them. I once tried to count the number of potholes between my home and the centre of Guildford (6.5miles), but gave up at 50.

It was often necessary to swerve to avoid potholes and one’s attention was riveted on the road surface ahead, to the detriment of one’s concentration on the traffic.

Worst of all, I sustained serious permanent injuries to both hands due to the beating they received through the handlebars while cycling on the shattered roads. I was unable to cycle for four years because of this, and I still suffer from the effects of the injuries.

I now live in Powys where the road are as smooth as billiard tables, but as soon as one arrives in Hereford the beating starts again.

I wrote to a previous transport minister suggesting that HS2 money should instead be used to repair the UK’s existing transport infrastructure; the reply was pretty dismissive.

Because of oncoming traffic on a narrow B-road in East Sussex, I was forced through an enormous pothole. My car was 3 months old. Both nearside wheels have flats on them, the tyres are badly damaged and the tracking is way out . BMW want over £1500 to deal with those problems. There is probably damage to the steering and/or suspension too. So far, all I have from the council is canned text. I’ll be calling Which? Legal in the morning but don’t know if they deal with such issues.

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I think it is possible to claim against the highway authority for damage to vehicles and injuries to people as a result of hitting a pothole or any other serious abnormality in the road surface. My county council paid out a substantial amount last financial year for a range of incidents [not all potholes]. It probably takes some persistence but is worth doing. Obviously any claim should be submitted immediately while the evidence is still available; a picture of the hole would no doubt be helpful if it is possible to do that without risk; an estimate from a car repairer shortly after the incident would also back up the claim, as well as corroboration from any other witnesses. I don’t see how it matters whether or not the pothole has already been reported; the driver is unlikely to know whether that is the case and anyway the highway authority has a statutory duty to maintain the roads in serviceable condition.

The photographic evidence is very important and the use of a suitable scale to record depth width etc. Get someone to hold up the traffic if necessay and park a car or a warning triangle whilst taking the pictures.

I would also take a general picture and measure the width of the roadway to justify any query as to whether it was avoidable.

There is an app from a useful charity to report potholes etc

Most councils now have on-line reporting facility and some are very slick and allow you to be recorded as an interested party [Devon CC]. This from another Council is interesting:

The question of whether it has previously been reported is of interest. My gut instinct tells me Highway officers are meant to notice these things before they develop into bigger problems.

I am toying with the idea that any employee of the Council should be duty bound to report these matters as it relates to potential claims for damages against their employer :). An employee is duty bound to minimise loss surely.

BTW don’t forget to tell the local press and send pics. It may be you are the nth person to be caught out by that pot-hole.

The AA give advice here about pothole damage, including checking your vehicle after hitting a pothole in case it may have cause tyre damage:

Statutory defence
You might be able to claim for the cost of any repairs required to your vehicle from the Highway Authority. It’s important to understand that they do have a statutory defence as they cannot be held liable for a defect they do not know about, either because it has not been reported to them or because it has not been picked up in their own road condition surveys.

System of inspection
Councils must have in place a system of roads inspection and repair. This will cover things like:
the frequency and method of inspection by road type
the type/size of defect that will be repaired, and
the timeframe within which repairs will be completed once the council becomes aware of any defect
This ‘system’ is defined at the local level rather than be imposed by regulation at a national level.

Councils must also have in place a system to enable them to receive defect reports from the public, and may be liable if they have not acted after receiving a defect report or observing a defect during one of their own planned inspections.”

When I phoned our council to complain about shoddy repairs they put me straight through to the contract company.

Reporting a pothole does get it seen to quickly, just a shame that they have to keep coming back to do more shoddy repairs.

Oops. I have posted another link to the first video below. The second one shows treatment of a piece of road that looks to be in poor condition and I question the value of patching it in the way we are shown.

There are a number of “technical” documents from around the world on pothole repairs. I’ve picked this one as it relates to our climate and, being from Scotland, will no doubt reflect thrift.http://www.transport.gov.scot/system/files/documents/tsc-basic-pages/RN44%20-%20Best%20practice%20guide%20for%20the%20selection%20of%20pothole%20repair%20options.pdf

Perhaps Which? could establish a “Best Buy” and a “Trusted Trader” to help councils.

Interesting links Malcolm. According to reader comments, the jury is out whether the Dalek is the perfect solution to pothole repairs. It is certainly fast though.

According to the Transport Research Laboratory, it seems I have done premium cold applied ashpalt repairs. 🙂

Both the Velocity process and the Dalek machine are somewhat more advanced and certainly faster than the semi-automatic method I described previously but neither seem to tackle the instability of the underlying material and I cannot believe they give much more than temporary patchings. No repair will be long-lasting unless some attempt has been made to understand why the road surface failed in the first place and remedy that problem before covering the hole with cold bitmac. A certain amount of excavation and undercutting of the hole perimeter is essential to hold the repair in place as it will nearly always be the weakest part of the road surface. The original asphalt surface of the road gains much of its strength from the cohesion of being laid hot and rolled immediately to bind the elements into a uniform layer. An inserted or sprayed-on repair will not have that cohesion so needs to lock into place through compression. Personally, if I were a road owner, I would prefer Alfa’s Asphalt to carry out all my carriageway repairs.

LOL !!! Thank you John 🙂 Can’t imagine me sitting on the M1 though with mallet in hand !!!

My feeling is those machines will only do a temporary repair but at least they can do it quickly without the need for traffic control.

After witnessing the fast deterioriation of roads around where spray and grit has been done, road cleanliness has to be a major factor in maintaining road surfaces. Vehicles with wide gaps in tyre tread can pick up quite large stones that damage the surface with every turn. All vehicles tyres pick up grit that will also damage road surfaces. You might also notice that road surfaces are worse outside houses with gravel driveways.

Learner drivers practising their 3-point turns always tend to be taken to the same places by their instructors. They don’t help road surfaces too much.

My engineering approach would suggest that a spray-on surface repair is less likely to be durable than the one recommended in the “standard” below. here the damage is excavated, the sides squared, material compacted in layers and the surface compacted and sealed.

My understanding is that the spray + chippings treatment is used to prolong the life of roads that are wearing out, rather than as a repair for any significant defects. It is often done on single carriageway roads in the evening, keeping one half of the road open to traffic. The chippings are rolled and when traffic flow is restored the vehicles help to embed them into the surface. It’s normal practice to use a street sweeping machine to collect surplus chippings, which can be a menace to cyclists and motorcyclists. Without the hard surface of chippings, the road would wear quickly and need resurfacing, which is much more expensive.

Dunno if you have better road maintenance in your area Wavechange but………….

After waiting years for a road near us to be resurfaced, the first thing the council did a few months later was spray and grit it. The speed limit was set to 10mph to allow the grit to be bedded in but many cars drove faster. Loose grit was washed into drains causing roads to flood. Loose grit was picked up by tyres or washed onto other roads that started deteriorating. Cars got bits of tar and grit flicked onto them (we claimed for a cracked windscreen when another road was sprayed and gritted). They eventually swept the road about a month later after all the damage had been done.

How is spray and grit a good thing? It is false economy.

I have few complaints about local roads, Alfa, though had I been a cyclist or motorcyclist I might be less satisfied. I don’t know about the economics of repair versus replace but have seen examples of spraying and applying chippings that have been done well and may have considerably extended the serviceable life of roads. This obviously has to be done before the road is worn to the extent that the surface has started to break up. I try to avoid freshly treated roads because of the stone chips. It’s easy to keep well behind the vehicle in front but there is usually someone tearing along in the other direction. I’m convinced that it is a great help to go over the new surface with a street sweeping machine to collect loose chippings.

I wonder how many complain about potholes and have never reported a single one. Even if roads are regularly inspected, potholes and other defects can develop quickly in winter weather. If water can enter and freeze it will break up the surface, much in the same way that we see brick walls spalling after frost.

I have only once been victim of a pothole and that had not been present when I last drove along the road, within the previous week.

Yes indeed, wavechange. I know someone who smacked her car into a huge pothole that I’d already reported, and which had been botched up on four occasions. She paid the four hundred pound bill herself, despite my assuring her that I had all the evidence she needed to make a claim.

Specification for pothole repair is in section 946. Might interest all those road dentists out there. http://www.standardsforhighways.co.uk/ha/standards/mchw/vol1/pdfs/series_0900.pdf

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Probably granite setts rather than cobbles (which I think are large pebbles). They are very durable and won’t disintegrate under traffic. A bit labour intensive to lay on main roads and motorways, and not great for skid resistance. But they do look nice – except perhaps to cyclists..

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Sorry duncan, you’re on a dead end road

“The man who invented Tarmac
Nottinghamshire county surveyor Edgar Hooley was the man who managed to make road surfaces stick.
A cursory glance at the history books would have you believe that the man behind tar macadam was Scotsman John McAdam.
While it’s true he invented the method of crushed stone road surfaces he failed to make the stones stick. This was fine in the days of horse drawn vehicles, but when cars started to become commonplace the surface became inadequate.”

“Contrary to popular belief, the bagpipes were not invented in Scotland or Ireland. It is widely believed that the pipes were originally created in the middle east, with supporting evidence in Egypt and eventually Greece and Rome.”

Who invented whisky – the Scots or the irish
00:00 Mon 28th Jan 2002 The AnswerBank
A. The debate between the Scots and the Irish over the whisky title goes back to the Dark Ages. The first legal distillery in the British Isles was in Northern Ireland. Bushmills, on the northern coast of Ireland, has had a license to distil since 1608, the reign of King James I of England and VI of Scotland, who also laid claim to Ireland.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve nothing against the Scots. They invented thrift. 🙂

Oh dear. This reminds me of ‘my conker is bigger than yours’, when I was at primary school. 🙂

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I hope you’ve now got over conker envy. Health and Safety has now been used to destroy the pleasure of conker fights, apparently, in some establishments. Don’t suppose peashooters and catapults are welcomed either. Whatever happened to proper childhoods?

I don’t know whether I’d want to be remembered for sticky black stuff. wailing instruments and a poisonous drug. Apparently the Pakistanis currently make the most bagpipes, including electronic ones.

Bagpipes were supposedly brought back from the Middle East by the Crusaders where the ignorant locals used them to frighten their enemies horses. It took European ingenuity to turn them into musical instruments.

I think their original purpose still holds good. I’m not sure whether European ingenuity succeeded.

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Don’t you mean instruments of aural torture, Phil? I think the Crusaders should have left them where they found them, or at least abandoned them before coming back on the ferry.

In case you missed it on TV here is the pot hole to beat all potholes.
https://www.theguardian.com – Huge Sink Hole Opens Up in Japanese City – Engineers are working round the clock to infill and repair it by Monday!

Someone must have complained in our village, or someone of high repute must have moved here because it became impossible to walk to the shops on a wet day without being splashed all over with filthy muddy water from traffic driving past at speed over potholes.

Suddenly, without any warning an assortment of strange looking vehicles appeared and over the course of a single weekend the village thoroughfare was transformed into a beautiful smooth tarmacadum surface with freshly painted yellow lines bordering the kerbsides.

I think it must have been affecting local shops because people (including myself) had become quite fed up with being showered with cold muddy water and were going elsewhere to shop. I’m not sure who funded the repairs but it has certainly made quite a difference, especially as one pothole was directly opposite the ATM!

Seems that is already yesterday’s news Beryl. But I did find another interesting page:

And with all local issues, it seems it is not what you know but who you know.

Closer to home:- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-37934011

What is it with sinkholes? I don’t remember ever hearing of the phenomena until maybe ten years ago now they seem to happening on a weekly basis.

Dantes Inferno springs to mind alfa! I love the Victorian garden feature at Mount Gambier in Australia. Should have been awarded top Aussie honours for enterprise!

Those visiting parts of Florida should be aware of the large number of underground voids where the surface can suddenly collapse. Closer to home, the Chilterns has hosted, and will continue to host, holy events. A resident parked their car outside their garage and came out next day to discover it had descended as a large sink hole had consumed it. Not a repair the Velocity process could deal with.

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duncan. I’m not sure where God came into this. However as the presumed Creator (manufacturer) he maybe should have reported this safety issue before a number of consumers were consumed.

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The incident in Norwich that Duncan reported involved a double-decker bus with passengers on board. The rear end of the bus suddenly dropped several metres as the road collapsed and the front was tilted up in the air. It happened very near the Roman Catholic Cathedral where the whole area is undermined by chalk workings. There were no deaths or serious injuries, thank goodness, and by virtue of being a front-entrance vehicle people were able to scramble off without too much difficulty. I don’t recall any refunds being requested or paid but the passengers were allowed to continue their journeys on other buses. Another serious road collapse happened in Norwich in around 2008, after which a house had to be demolished, and there are several minor collapses every year. Geologists do not like the use of terms like ‘pothole’ and ‘sink hole’ for these unnatural events which usually have human activity as the ultimate cause but no one has come up with a better or more appealing description. Some collapses are due to genuine geological faults and deformations or to seismic activity.

I was a front seat passenger on a round trip of around 100 miles today, and passed the time looking out for potholes and other problems. Most of the roads were in reasonably good condition and what concerned me most was the number of poor repairs, though other repairs seemed to be well done. I also saw manhole covers and drains that had sunk so much that they could be hazardous to cyclists and motorcyclists. One road on the outskirts of a town had been repaired many times and was uneven, suggesting that the construction was inadequate to support the load of vehicles using it. If I lived nearby I would be pushing for its reconstruction.

Snap! I have also had the opportunity to look at the road surfaces from the passenger seat over about 250 miles of road in Norfolk and Suffolk in this last week, including all types of public highway [except motorways because there are none]. I was actually struck by the almost complete absence of potholes in both counties and the generally good standard of the road surfaces. I thought Suffolk’s roads were in better nick than Norfolk’s but it was a close call, and in both counties the A roads were the worst because they are generally single-carriageway, quite narrow, and heavily over-trafficked by large good vehicles. The worst problems seemed to be breaking-out at the roadside edges and collapsed or loose gullies – both of these defects are much more hazardous to cyclists than to cars which might explain (a) why they are not getting reported soon enough, and (b) why there are so few cyclists on rural roads. Roads in towns and villages were usually in quite good condition but the number of public utility reinstatements that were in the process of failing was remarkable. They are clearly not following the technical specifications submitted by Malcolm.

I mentioned the problem of damage to road edges by vehicles veering off-road when meeting oncoming traffic. A low kerb can afford protection. I have seen ones that are little higher than the road surface and yesterday I saw another design where the kerb was higher but with a 45 degree slope. A conventional high kerb would not be appropriate or necessary for single carriageway roads because this would damage vehicles if they did have to veer off-road.

A rural main road near us was reconstructed a few years ago and kerbs were part of the solution to continuous erosion of the road edges. Because the section included two reverse curves the work included substantial super-elevation to counteract the centrifugal forces that were causing larger vehicles in particular to scour the verges and break up the edges of the carriageway. The resulting road surface has been a vast improvement. It has held together without the sort of ripples and bumps that can occur as the top of the road surface is progressively pushed towards the edge on bends, the road drains better as side-entry gullies were installed with the kerbing, and vehicles hold to the line of the road better even at 60 mph. I think the road was also widened by about a metre which has helped with vehicle separation. Although the work was extensive, given that that section was in need of substantial repair and resurfacing anyway, it has delivered good value. I don’t know how much it cost but road resurfacing and upgrading is not as expensive as one might think, can provide long-lasting benefits, avoids the need for frequent patching, and contributes significantly to road safety for all road users. Someone did go out of control on the bends a couple of years ago and kill a passenger but the driver was found to be well over the drink-drive limit and the Coroner considered that the condition and alignment of the road played no part in the death of the passenger. The driver was subsequently convicted of several offences and given a prison sentence plus a driving ban.

I have been very impressed by some of the local work done to reconstruct an A-road that I use frequently. This was done when stretches were becoming rough and obviously worn out, but before there were serious defects. Some smaller roads have also been improved, even though the difference is less apparent.

When writing to our MPs or making complaints in other ways it may be helpful to point out examples of good practice, even pothole repairs that have been done well.

I would be interested to know what effect gritting and salting has on the condition of roads. As Alfa has pointed out, loose grit acts as an abrasive and no doubt it adds to the cost of keeping drains clear. I have no idea if salt remains for long enough to significantly decrease damage caused by freeze/thaw cycles. Even though cars are more resistant to corrosion, salt can cause brakes to stick and other safety related problems. There seems to be no uniformity in use of grit/salt and where councils run out of funding or materials, treatment of roads can be greatly reduced.

One thing that seems to damage road surfaces and appears poorly controlled is when people dig up the road for access to services, such as gas, waterand then do not reinstate properly. Come back after a few weeks and the surface may have sunk. Local Authorities should ensure that these repairs are durable and require them to be re-done if they detract from the road surface. Maybe the council should require that only their contractors repair the initial work and pass on the cost.

I have wondered about this but it might mean further delays in reinstating the road surfaces. The worst example I have seen was where Telewest installed cables in some residential areas. I recall seeing examples broken and uneven paving slabs, dollops of tarmac used to fill gaps, and so on near where my parents lived. Apparently this was a widespread problem and though the company has long gone, evidence of their work remains. I cannot recall if roads were affected or whether it was just pavements that were ruined.

If the service companies fail to do a satisfactory job then they should certainly have to foot the bill for proper reinstatement of roads and pavements if there is evidence of poor quality workmanship within – say – a period of ten years.

A problem with repairing some potholes – for example those near the middle of a road – can mean a road closure, with the necessary advance warnings and diversions set up.

Here is a video showing repair of a damaged road surface. (Other commercial solutions are available!)

I can’t say I’m impressed because rolling would be necessary to compact material, especially with a deeper hole.

I can’t imagine the operators cleaning the area of all loose stuff either, except for the camera of course.

Yes – Have a look at the comments on this YouTube video and some of the problems are mentioned.

Duncan Smith says:
15 November 2016


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