Thousands make pothole damage claim

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Published: Monday 26th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Almost 50,000 drivers made claims against councils across Britain for damage caused to their vehicles by potholes in the last financial year.

The 200 (out of a total of 207) local highways authorities in England, Scotland and Wales who responded to Freedom of Information requests from the RAC Foundation dealt with 48,664 compensation claims in the 2013/14 financial year.

This is the equivalent of roughly one claim being submitted every 11 minutes day and night 365 days a year and an increase on the 2012/13 figure of 46,139 claims, according to the RAC Foundation.

Councils refused the majority of claims, agreeing to pay out in less than a quarter (23%) of cases, and t he total value of successful claims was £3.2 million.

The average payout for a successful claim in 2013/14 was £286, down from £357 the year before and the average administration cost of each claim – successful or not – was £147, the transport policy and research organisation said.

In England, there were 42,662 claims made to local authority highways authorities and 9,792 of them were successful, with the total value of the successful claims coming to £2.9 million.

In Scotland, there were 4,511 claims and 1,126 of them were successful, with the total value of the successful claims coming to £228,000.

In Wales, there were 1,491 and 266 of them were successful, with the total value of successful claims coming to £73,000.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said the figures are ” likely to be the tip of the iceberg” and said councils are not given enough money for roads.

” Many drivers will be put off by the time involved in claiming against a council, and many councils do their best to deter claimants coming forward.

“But the fundamental problem lies not at the doors of our town halls but with central government. Despite occasional one-off grants related to periods of harsh weather, they are simply not giving councils enough money to keep their road networks up to scratch,” he said.

He added: “In England, local authorities themselves estimate the maintenance backlog to be about £12 billion yet over the past five years spending on all roads across England and Wales has dropped 22% in real terms.

“Worn out road surfaces do not simply cause damage to vehicles they are also potentially lethal, particularly for two-wheeled road users.

“This is not an anti-HS2 argument, but how can a government commit to a £50 billion scheme like that when a vital infrastructure network on which nine out of 10 passenger miles takes place crumbles away?

“This is about prioritisation and our roads should be at the top of the list. That’s not just our view, it is a regular response from the public when they are asked to give their transport priorities.”

Of the 207 councils which were approached for information, 146 out of 153 responded in England, 32 out of 32 responded in Scotland, and 22 out of 22 responded in Wales. Of those councils that responded not all answered all of the questions, the RAC Foundation said.

The RAC Foundation is a transpo rt policy and research organisation which explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “Good local roads are vital for our transport network and it is for local councils to maintain them properly – this Government has provided over £4.7bn since 2010, an increase of £1bn compared to the previous parliament.

“As part of our long term economic plan, we will also spend a further £6 billion between 2015 to 2021 providing councils the certainty they require to plan how they will keep their roads well maintained.”

Published: Monday 26th January 2015 by The News Editor

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