A COUNCIL van had to be rescued when it got stuck in a giant pothole it came out to inspect.

Residents claim the huge crevice in Possingworth Lane, near the B2192 at Blackboys, has been growing for months since it was first reported to East Sussex County Council in December. Measuring approximately 15 inches deep, 5ft wide and 10ft long, the hole was masked by a large flood.

The Argus contacted the council on Wednesday after residents' complaints and that evening a council highways inspection van was seen stranded in the pothole and being rescued by roadside recovery.

Retired criminal barrister Clemency Abraham, a 47-year-old mother-of-three who lives nearby, said: "When I was bringing my children home at about 7.30pm I saw the van had come down to see the road and was stranded in the giant hole. The recovery took several hours. The driver was very shocked by the state of the road and kept saying he couldn’t believe it was this bad and no-one had told him.

"This is a dangerous accident waiting to happen and it makes it very difficult - this is the main route in to these rural settlements."

Her neighbour Robin Knight, 48, claimed the council had labelled it a priority hazard on January 4 and there had been near misses and numerous vehicles damaged.

He added: "It is so huge and so dangerous it forces the traffic on to the wrong side of the road into the path of oncoming vehicles on the blind bend. When it was flooded, many did not realise the hole was underneath. We all believe a terrible accident is imminent."

The council cleared the flood water and a blocked drain on Thursday and put barriers, bollards and temporary traffic lights in the road. A spokeswoman said repair work would be carried out as soon as possible but could not confirm when it would begin or be completed.

She said: "Every report we receive is acted upon as quickly as possible but we don’t have unlimited resources so we have to prioritise the repairs to ensure we fix the worst potholes on the busiest roads first. The pothole in Possingworth Lane was first reported in December, but was assessed as low priority at that time."

She said work to clear drains was carried a number of times over the last three months because the area has a problem with flooding.

The council has not commented on the van accident so far.

Report potholes on 0345 6080, visiting eastsussex.fixmystreet.com or tweeting @esccroads.

The story so far

RESIDENTS say the pothole was first reported on December 22 and labelled by the council as a priority hazard on January 4.

Since then the pothole has grown in size and flooded. The damages is said to extend two metres into the small country lane, leaving just over two metres free for traffic to use.

East Sussex County Council said it was first assessed as a low priority and potholes are fixed as soon as possible.