Potholes compensation claims are costing taxpayers millions

Councils received nearly 30,000 claims for compensation after pothole damage.
Councils received nearly 30,000 claims for compensation after pothole damage.
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Damage to cars caused by potholes led to almost 30,000 compensations claims by motorists to councils last year.

The 28,971 claims, made by drivers to local authorities across the UK, are equivalent to one every 18 minutes.

But councils refused the bulk of the claims and agreed to pay out only a quarter for damages - a total of £2m - according to figures released by road experts the RAC Foundation.

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The figures show the total number of claims against councils for damage caused by potholes fell by more than 20,000 on the previous year.

Steve Gooding, director of the organisation, said the fall could be because motorists are “put off” by the time it takes to lodge a claim.

He said: “One reading of these figures could be that local roads are in better condition than they were.

“But that does not square with councils’ own assessment that the road maintenance backlog is actually growing, not falling.

“It could instead be that many drivers are put off by the time involved in claiming against a council while councils themselves do their best to deter claimants coming forward.

The YEP revealed in January that Leeds City Council paid out almost £30,000 after 96 of the 332 drivers who sought compensation had their applications approved in 2013-14.

And in 2012-13, the council received 785 claims and paid out £99,000 to drivers.

Mr Gooding added: “28,971 claims in one year is still a huge number – three an hour, every day of the year.

“Ahead of the general election an RAC Foundation poll found that the condition of roads and pavements was regarded as the number one transport issue amongst voters, just as it was back in 2010.

“Better roads don’t just benefit car drivers. While potholes are an inconvenience for those on four wheels, they can be a matter of life or death for those on two.”

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