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Chester council finds itself in hole over pothole tweet

Cheshire West and Chester Council PR stunt backfires thanks to cynical public

This is the tweet which caused all the fuss.

The old adage about ‘when you’re in a hole stop digging’ proved true for Cheshire West and Chester Council highways team when it tried to justify why one particular pothole would not be fixed.

CWaC is fighting a never ending battle to repair potholes created by the constant freeze-thaw action of winter, leading to constant gripes from drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists.

But a PR offensive on social media showing the highway team hard at work backfired when a photo was posted of ‘inspector Darren’ deciding not to fix a reported pothole ‘at this time’ with the explanation that it was under 50mm.

Potholes. Picture by staff photographer Douglas McKendrick.

The trouble was everybody believed that if Darren had a longer spirit level the hole would have been shown to be much deeper – the council tweet has since been deleted.

Dave Dee wrote: “If he had a longer spirit level it would measure a lot deeper than 50mm!”

The council responded: “Hi, it might not be clear from the photo but the spirit level is resting on the road surface, this was amongst a chain of shallow defects all less than 50mm.”

But the cynical public were disbelieving.

Alistair Carruthers wrote: “It definitely looks like it’s below the road surface to me and everyone else. But regardless of that, it’s so big it should be classified as a crater not a pot hole and you’re saying it requires no action?!”

Picture by staff photographer Douglas McKendrick.

Tom Bradley posted: “Maybe it would be a better use of taxpayers’ money and @go_cheshirewest employees’ time if it was just filled in, as opposed to inspected... #CWaC.”

Graham tweeted: “This is not helping your PR drive to convince us that local roads are anything other than a network of broken surfaces, sunken grids, and bone-shatteringly poor patches....”

While Reggie Anderson posted: “Under 50mm requires no action, you cannot be serious. Potholes kill cyclists, what price one life. Get a grip @Go_CheshireWest and fix those potholes before more are killed through your neglect..”

Cheshire West & Chester Council

In the interests of balance, Cheshire West and Chester Council actually has a respectable record when it comes to fixing potholes and has even won awards but it is a monumental task that never ends. The council Twitter feed points out that during January and February a total of 1,508 potholes were repaired across the borough.

Independent website ‘Fill That Hole’, compiled by national organisation the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC), shows the council is currently ranked number four in a league table of more than 200 highway authorities when it comes to filling in holes with a 99% fix rate.

In 2011 CTC named CWaC the country’s top highways authority for fixing potholes.

Councillor Karen Shore, cabinet member for environment, said: “The pothole in question was measured correctly and in line with our policy.
“At a depth of 36mm, the pothole is a lower category defect than those of more than 50mm, which are prioritised for repair within 24 hours.
“However, this has still been listed as defective and raised as a job for our contractor to complete in the coming weeks, which is standard for this type of repair.”

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