Pothole damage to vehicles costs Scots taxpayers nearly £1,000 per day

SCOTTISH councils are paying tens of thousands of pounds a year to motorists whose vehicles have been damaged by potholes, according to new figures.

Over the past five years almost £1.8 million has been paid out in compensation by local authorities – with figures rising sharply following the damage caused by last year’s severe weather.

Scottish Conservatives, who revealed the figures following a Freedom of Information request, said the numbers were “astonishing” and called for urgent action to improve the condition of Scotland’s roads.

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The data shows that Scottish local authorities paid out a total of £1,738,966 in compensation for pothole damage between 2006-07 and 2010-11. The country's largest local authority, Glasgow City Council, topped the list with pay-outs amounting to £355,530.

The amount it has handed over has risen in recent years, hitting a high of more than £197,000 in 2010-11. By comparison, the same council paid out just under £20,000 in 2007-08.

Edinburgh City Council's five-year compensation total stands at £188,331. In 2010-11 it paid out £21,964, compared with almost £78,000 in 2006/07.

South Lanarkshire and Aberdeen Councils also found their five-year bills reached six figures, at £215,473 and £114,780 respectively.

According to the figures, Western Isles Council has made no pothole damage pay-outs over the last five years.

Deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Jackson Carlaw MSP, said: “This is an astonishing level of compensation paid out by local authorities in Scotland to motorists and the £2 million bill is just the tip of the iceberg as there will be many motorists who won’t have claimed for damage from their local authorities.

“Furthermore, the compensation bill is only part of the cost of dealing with the claims as councils will spend vast sums of time and money dealing with each individual claim.

“The shocking state of our roads is a reality that every motorist and councillor knows only too well and that is why we proposed a Road Maintenance Fund in the recent Scottish elections to help fix the problem.”

Tim Shallcross, head of technical advice for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said repairing damage to cars was a costly way of tackling the pothole problem.

“The average cost of repairing a pothole is around £50, while a single compensation claim will typically run into hundreds – and far more if someone is injured,” he said.

“The £1.8m paid in compensation could have repaired 36,000 potholes, making Scotland’s roads safer and preventing further damage to the roads.

“All authorities must review this unnecessary waste of resources and adopt sensible policies for preventative road maintenance and prompt repair.”

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said: “Our routine and winter budget for next year is £68.5m – an 11 per cent increase on the previous year, which will help improve winter maintenance of the network.

“Total road maintenance funding for 2012-13 is £146m – an increase of 13 per cent on this year.

“We will continue to maintain and safely operate our trunk roads and motorways with an extensive programme of works, investing a total of £700m over the spending review period."