06 February
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On average West Lothian Council normally carries out 210 pothole repairs each month. In addition, owners of private roads and car parks are responsible for carrying out their own repairs.  


However very cold weather does result in more potholes. The RAC recently said that the weather in January 2023 was the perfect recipe for potholes on roads - which is as a result of heavy rain and freezing temperatures. Water enters the small cracks that are on roads and expand when frozen, then thaw.  This then causes the road surfaces to crumble.


Jim Jack, the council's Head of Operational Services said: "Potholes form due to freeze thaw action, hence there are always more in the winter. Water will find its way into any cracks in the road surface. If this freezes, the ice formed will put pressure on the road surface, forcing the cracks open. When the ice thaws the gap left is a weak spot, which can become a pothole as traffic runs over the area. This winter we experienced a cold snap before Christmas, followed by very wet weather and now another cold period. These combined are the worst conditions we could experience in terms of the road condition.


"Our safety inspection programme is ongoing and we also respond to all reports of road defects. We would encourage people to use the web form on the council's website to report any potholes or other road defects.


"To put this into context, our team has repaired around 700 potholes in January 2023 alone, compared to our normal workload of around 210 per month. This clearly highlights the amount of work are team is getting through. Both in terms of checking customer enquiries and repairing pothole defects.


"We fully appreciate that potholes are frustrating but they certainly aren't limited to West Lothian. The process of reporting potholes online has enabled residents to report potholes using a map within seconds and this has increased the number of enquires and reports. That's a positive change, as that way the repairs get carried out more quickly.


"Despite the extremely challenging financial position that the council faces, our road network overall is in good condition in West Lothian, and we continue to work to maintain that."


He added:


"Quite often we get asked about how we repair potholes and what the process is. Our primary concern with potholes is to ensure that the road network is safe and every defect is inspected and a risk assessment is carried out to determine the response time required for a repair. Once a pothole is reported to the council, the roads team normally attend within 24 hours to assess the extent of the works.


"For high risk defect this means that we will infill potholes within 24 hours of the defect being recorded and we will return at a later date to undertake permanent repairs if required. "This ensures that the roads are safe and reduces the damage done to vehicles.


"We have dedicated teams working to infill potholes at all times. Generally speaking potholes assessed as lower risk can be infilled within 5 working days although some may take longer due to the circumstances of the repair."


"More often than not, our team will put in place a temporary patch. This ensures that the roads are safe in the short term and reduces the damage done to vehicles. Our team will return soon afterwards to undertake a full and permanent repair if that is required. This can involve traffic management or even temporary closures so a patch is very helpful to both ourselves and motorists as it prevents having to close roads completely whilst we schedule in permanent repairs."


Tom Conn, Executive councillor for the Environment and Sustainability added: "The team undertake an important job and the figures highlight the volume of work that they undertake."


Potholes and road defects can be reported here: https://www.westlothian.gov.uk/report