Taxpayers forced to foot £228k pothole bill

Potholes can be dangerous as well as causing damage. Picture: PA
Potholes can be dangerous as well as causing damage. Picture: PA
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POTHOLES have cost Scottish councils £228,000 in compensation claims in just one year – equivalent to over £600 a day.

The sum paid out to drivers whose cars were damaged was revealed after a freedom of information request from the RAC Foundation.

Glasgow City Council topped the chart, paying out £66,800 to 316 claimants in the 2013-14 financial year. Dumfries and Galloway was the second highest payer, with £26,900 paid to 110 drivers in the area.

In Edinburgh, the council paid out £17,300 to 44 claimants and £23,000 was awarded to 71 successful compensation bids in North Lanarkshire, which also had the highest percentage of successful claims last year. A total of 51 per cent of drivers received payouts, compared to awards for just 6 per cent of 150 claims in the Borders.

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No compensation was paid on the Western Isles and just £89.59 was awarded on the Orkney islands last year.

The figure was almost half of £510,000 claims paid last year, but has increased dramatically from 2007-8 when only £20,000 was paid out.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said the figures are “likely to be the tip of the iceberg”.

He said: “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.

“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.

When you’re in a hole, stop digging

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

Bill McIntosh, general secretary of the Scottish Taxi Federation, said: “I imagine taxi drivers could be making compensation claims against councils.

“I haven’t seen the roads as bad as they are now, and it causes more damage to taxis as they spend more time on the roads, and there is very little you can do about it. It’s all about budgets, and apparently local council budgets don’t stretch to fixing holes in the road.”

More than 4,500 drivers made claims against councils across Scotland for damage caused to their vehicles by potholes in the last financial year and 1,126 were successful.

In Scotland, all 32 local authorities responded to the freedom of information request, which revealed about 25 per cent of claims were successful.

The average payout for a successful claim in 2013-14 was £286, down from £357 the year before. The average administration cost of each claim – successful or not – was £109.

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.

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 £4.7 billion since 2010, an increase of £1bn compared to the previous ­parliament.”