The leader of Wiltshire Council has described areas of the county in which “rivers” are running down the roads, with heavy rainfall making it difficult to repair potholes in these locations.

Council leader Richard Clewer spoke about the effects of bad weather on highways at the latest Cabinet meeting, on Tuesday, May 7.

He was asked by Wiltshire’s Liberal Democrat Leader, Ian Thorn, for an update on Wiltshire’s “battle to reduce potholes.”

Councillor Clewer said: “We have now confirmation that last year 42,000 gullies were emptied – that is half of our gullies.”

He noted that he would like to see all gullies being cleared on an “annual basis” to fight the deterioration of the county’s roads.

The council leader explained: “There are a number of areas where we have had rivers running down our roads for the best part of six months now, and that is a really difficult thing to deal with because you cannot intervene, whilst a river is running down a road, to repair it, and all you’re seeing is further degradation.”

He added: “These are springs that have never emerged before – I’ve spoken to a number of farmers, a number of land owners, who are saying ‘I’ve never had a spring in that field, it’s now been coming up for months.’”

This comes after Wiltshire has been hit by a series of floodings and weather warnings across the winter.

A record 1,695.9mm of rain fell across England from October 2022 to March 2024, the highest level in an 18-month period since 1836.

Councillor Clewer also clarified that the council is looking into the need to use pumps to clear water from areas in which repairs are necessary.

He assured Councillor Thorn: “We are doing everything we can from a drainage and water point of view.”

Councillor Nick Holder, Cabinet Member for Highways, Street Scene and Flooding, said there had been a 20 per cent increase in pothole repairs so far in 2024.

He described a number of measures in place to cope with the “additional demand”, including new teams for small surface repairs and fortnightly meetings to assess progress in resolving the issue.

Councillor Holder mentioned that although it wouldn’t be a “quick fix”, the potential long-term benefits of AI were also being considered, to carry out work without relying on “human intervention.”