Nearly 150 drivers get pothole damage cash

Northants County Council has paid out more than �60,000 in compensation for damage caused to cars by potholes
Northants County Council has paid out more than �60,000 in compensation for damage caused to cars by potholes

The county council has paid out more than £70,000 over the past three years for damage caused by potholes and other road defects.

The authority has made settlements in 143 cases since April 2011. The vast majority of the cases are the result of problems caused by potholes. Over the past three years, 1,580 people have submitted claims.

In 2013-14, there were 81 settlements, including one for £5,073 in the case of damage to a vehicle.

It was the biggest settlement made by Northamptonshire County Council since the 2011-12 financial year, when the authority paid out £8,500 to a pedestrian who tripped on a road. That year also saw a total of £10,250 paid to two cyclists to settle their claims.

The council has blamed poor weather and a previous lack of funding for the state of the county’s roads.

A spokesman said: “Despite the council introducing a nationally-recognised way of working to carry out longer-lasting pro-active repairs on the roads, our highways are continuing to deteriorate as a result of recent severe weather and decades of underinvestment.”

The figures have emerged from a freedom of information request made by the Northants Telegraph.

A separate request also showed that people in the county made more than 9,500 reports last year to the council’s Street Doctor scheme to report potholes, broken pavements and faults with street markings. In the previous year, that figure was 7,640.

A year-by-year breakdown shows the number of settlements made in relation to problems with the highways in Northamptonshire has rocketed from 17 in 2011-12 to 45 in 2012-13 and 81 last year.

Local authorities are not responsible for damage caused when they have taken care to ensure the road in question was not dangerous.

The spokesman added: “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.”

A report presented to the county council’s cabinet this week said about 150 miles of unclassified roads in Northamptonshire needed structural intervention work.

County Lib Dem leader Cllr 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.”

Meanwhile, chancellor George Osborne announced in the budget in March that £1.5m would be set aside to tackle potholes in the county.