Helping us deal with a plague of potholes
Three bad winters have caused major damage to the roads in the
Vale of Glamorgan, as is the case on roads right across the
UK. Keeping up with the road surfacing and
pothole problems is a never-ending challenge
for councils, and we urge residents to help us by
reporting potholes. You can do this either by
using our simplified 'report a pothole' form on
this page, by calling our contact centre on 01446
What is the definition of a pothole?
A pothole is where the surface of the road has been eroded and a
dip or hollow is formed. The description of a pothole will vary
from person to person, however not all holes in the road are
classed by us as a pothole. Within the carriageway a hole will
need to have a depth of at least 40mm (1.5 inches) and
extend in any direction by at least 300mm (an inch longer than a
sheet of A4) before we regard it to be a
What causes a pothole?
- Pothole formation is always associated with asphalt fatigue
damage, and the colder it gets the more brittle a bitumen road
surface will become.
- When an asphalt road surface ages, it becomes more porous and
rainwater increasingly begins to penetrate through cracks and other
flaws. In wet conditions the pressure created by car tyres passing
over this area forces the water further down into the road surface
weakening it even more.
- In cold wet weather conditions a phenomenon known as
'freeze-thaw' causes even faster deterioration of the road
surfaces, because as the water which has filled the cracks freezes
into ice it expands, loosening chunks of the road surface
- Once a pothole has formed it will tend to grow in size as
traffic will continually dislodge and remove weakened and broken
pieces of the road surface.
How do we fix a pothole?
- Sometimes it is necessary to make a temporary repair just
to make a pothole safe in the short term, but where possible
we make as many permanent repairs as we can.
- A permanent repair will involve cutting out the weakened
area around the pothole to form a uniform rectangular
shape. This hole is then cleaned out and painted with a
coat of liquid bituminous binder that acts as an adhesive. The hole
is then filled with a layer of hot bitumen road surfacing material
which is raked level and then compacted.
- When the hot material has sufficiently cooled and hardened the
road can be re-opened to traffic, allowing the repair
team to move on to the next location.
- For safety reasons it may be necessary for us to use
traffic control when repairing potholes.
- See the process here.
How do we programme pothole repairs?
- A team of trained highway inspectors visually inspects
each of the council’s roads regularly. The frequency of these
inspections is in accordance with a predetermined schedule and
they will vary depending on the road classification and route
- Each observed defect is recorded with an
assigned repair time scale. This is dependent on
the potential hazard in accordance with our safety inspection
- Potholes are classified dependent on how severe a risk to
the road user the pothole is. Factors taken into account include:-
- Position of the pothole within the carriageway
- Size and depth of the pothole
- Road classification, traffic type, speed and volume
- We also receive reports of highway defects from members of the
public via One Vale
How quickly will we fix a pothole?
- Currently we will inspect, prioritise and repair (either
permanently or temporarily) all reported potholes within 28
working days or longer depending upon the on site assessment
carried out by the Highway Inspector
Potholes that are identified in a high risk
area are repaired within 24 hours
Why don't we just fill every reported pothole?
- There is a limit as to how effectively we can repair many of
the 'potholes' reported to us by members of the public as they do
not meet our minimum intervention requirements as mentioned
- Potholes not meeting our intervention levels are, without
further excavation, impossible to repair effectively as the repair
material will simply be plucked out from the shallow depression by
the passing traffic. Any repair will only last a matter of days
before it is broken out. When this happens we will receive
criticism for not carrying out a proper repair in the first place
- So if one of our gangs arrive at a reported pothole that does
not meet our minimum intervention levels they will accurately
record the defect's details and then move on to attend to the next
defect on their work list without carrying out a repair.
How to report a pothole?
Members of the public can use either one of the following ways
to report a pothole defect to us:-