Council Pays £70,000 in Pothole Compensation Claims

County Council Pays Out Over 70,000 in Claims 25974

Northamptonshire County Council has paid out more than £70,000 to people who have suffered accidents due to potholes and other flaws in its roads; new data has shown.

The compensation amount was uncovered through a Freedom of Information request made by the Northamptonshire Telegraph, which showed the compensation paid was split between 143 cases heard since April 2011, most of them connected with pothole related accidents.

In addition to this, there were 1,437 unsuccessful claims made during the period, but the number of successful claims was higher towards the end of the three years. There were 17 in 2011-12, with this figure increasing to 45 in 2012-13 and 81 in 2013-14. Despite this, the amounts of compensation payments has been progressively getting smaller.

The largest payment made by the local authority in the past year was £5,073 for repairs to a damaged vehicle, while the highest individual figure was £8,500 paid to a pedestrian who tripped on a road in 2011-12. That year also saw the largest of the compensation sums awarded, shared between two cyclists injured by potholes who split £10,250.

A spokesman said, "With more claims submitted, we would expect a rise in the number of successful claims. However, there doesn't appear to be any rationale for why money paid out has decreased even though successful claims have increased."

According to the local authority, the rise in claims has come about as a legacy of historic underinvestment in road maintenance and meteorological factors.

The spokesman stated, "Despite the council introducing a nationally recognised way of working to carry out longer-lasting proactive repairs on the roads, our highways are continuing to deteriorate as a result of recent severe weather and decades of underinvestment."

Such claims are in line with reports by the public of problems in the roads. A separate Freedom of Information request showed 9,500 reports were made by people in Northamptonshire to the county's Street Doctor scheme, which was set up to receive reports of potholes. That compared with the 2012-13 tally of 7,640.

According to a council report, the current problems with the county's highways network include the need for work on around 150 miles of unclassified road.

However, the opposition on the council is unimpressed. Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Brendan Glynane said, "It is past time this council made a serious effort to actually improve, not just maintain, the poor state of the county's roads."

This year, the county is set to receive £1.5 million of extra funds for potholes, which was earmarked for such work by chancellor George Osborne in the Budget in March.

It is not just in Northamptonshire where the council has been criticised for failing to stay on top of the task of repairing potholes.

Earlier this month, Cheltenham residents told the Gloucestershire Echo of their anger at the county council apparently leaving the job of fixing the holes in one town centre road half finished.

Council workers carried out repairs on part of Parabola Road in the Montpellier area, but left some untouched.

However, the local authority responded that the staff would be back within a fortnight to complete the job.

Local motorist Anna Brent told the newspaper that work was badly needed, as the road was "like an assault course for cars".