IT has been described as a giant toaster but Rhinopatch – the infrared road repair machine – is Southampton’s latest weapon in the fight against potholes.

Costing £40,000, the state-of-the- art technology is likely to become a familiar sight on the city’s roads after being rented by Southampton City Council in a bid to clean up the streets.

Working like a toaster, the machine melts and resets the road instead of digging it up and replacing it.

Quieter It is also quieter than traditional road-mending methods and council chiefs say it will minimise disruption and save money.

As revealed in the Daily Echo last July, Southampton has the worst roads in the south with potholes damaging cars and putting cyclists’ lives at risk.

Southampton City Council was ranked 167th out of 203 in a national league table of highway authorities – behind Hampshire and Portsmouth – with a miserable record of fixing just 24 per cent of reported potholes.

Cabinet member for environment and transport, Councillor Matt Dean, said: “This is just one example of the innovative approaches we are taking to improve the city’s highways.

“It is essential that, with year-on-year Government underfunding and especially during these very turbulent economic times, we do all we can to make the best use of the limited resources we have available.

“We must continue to think outside the box in terms of road maintenance and make sure we are offering the best possible service to residents and motorists.”