Thomas Bridge 07 November 2014

Councils face soaring compensation claims over potholes

Councils in flood-hit areas have seen claims for pothole damage rise by almost a quarter this year, as compensation payouts exceed £5m.

Over 26,000 compensation claims for damage relating to potholes were received by local authorities in the past financial year, a 13% rise on 2011/12.

Research by insurers LV= suggests town halls in areas worst hit by winter flooding following the deluge of rain witnessed last year have seen claims for pothole damage to cars rise by 23% on average.

Data suggests Wiltshire paid out the highest sum in compensation to drivers this year, the figure exceeding £154,800. Between January and August, Vale of Glamorgan is thought to have paid out £152,000 in compensation, while Surrey faced a £134,300 bill.

Council chiefs today demanded long-term funding to tackle the £12bn roads repair backlog, warning that severe weather this winter could be a 'tipping point' for the country's roads.

Around one in six motorists have experienced potholes damaging their cars over the past 12 months. Figures show that local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland have paid out over £5m in compensation in the past two financial years.

Peter Horton, managing director of LV= Road Rescue, said: 'Persistently heavy rain and flooding earlier in the year created the perfect storm for Britain's pothole epidemic. Councils therefore face difficult choices in the roads they prioritise for repair this winter.'

Responding to the report, Cllr Peter Box, the Local Government Association's transport spokesman, said: 'Despite spiralling multi-million pound compensation costs and funding cuts, councils still fixed two million potholes last year. But we need long-term funding to tackle the ever-growing £12 billion roads repair backlog facing the nation.

'Tackling this crisis must be a national priority. That is why we are calling for the Government to inject a further £1 billion a year into roads maintenance by investing the equivalent of just two pence per litre of existing fuel duty. Our recent national polling found 83 per cent of the public back this plan.'

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