Revealed: the cost of pothole claims to Scottish Councils

Andrew Slorance, a 47-year-old father of 5, hit a pothole while commuting home in Edinburgh. Picture: Contributed
Andrew Slorance, a 47-year-old father of 5, hit a pothole while commuting home in Edinburgh. Picture: Contributed
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Councils across the UK have spent at least £43.3 million on pothole compensation claims over the last five years.

Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by campaign group Cycling UK reveal cyclists’ injuries merited compensation 13 times higher than motorists.

The charity, which runs the pothole reporting webtool and app Fill That Hole, said the payouts demonstrated long-term failure of Governments to fund local roads properly.

FOI request were submitted to 212 highway authorities, of which 156 responded.

On average motorists received £841.26 per successful claim. Cyclists received £10,963.15.

Cycling UK said this disparity suggests cycling claims are much more likely to include personal injury rather than just property damage.

Glasgow City Council featured in the top 10 of UK council with the highest pay-outs to cyclists during 2013-2017, in 10th place at £144,755.

The total paid by 12 Scottish councils in compensation to cyclists in the survey was £563, 513 over the five year timescale.

Sam Jones, Cycling UK’s senior campaigns officer, said: “It’s clear more people are being killed and seriously injured while out cycling each year due to years of persistent under investment in our rotting local road networks.

“Governments should concentrate on fixing the roads we have first before building new ones.

Mr Jones added: “Councils need to provide enough funding to adopt long-term plans for roads maintenance, rather than patching up streets only as they become dangerous.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Despite continued UK Government real terms cuts to Scotland’s resource budget, we have treated local government very fairly and the £10.7 billion local government finance settlement in 2018-19 will provide a real terms boost in both revenue and capital funding.

“The local road network is the responsibility of local authorities and it is up to them to allocate resources based on local priorities. Councils will have an additional £77 million to spend as they have all budgeted to increase council tax levels by the maximum allowable amount of 3 per cent.

“While local authority budget setting is the responsibility of individual authorities the total funding they have available will increase by almost £342 million in 2018-19.”

Case study: Pothole victim still anxious on his bike

Father-of five Andrew Slorance, 47, from Edinburgh, was cycling home after work in 2013 when he lost control of his bike as it hit a pothole.

Mr Slorance was heading from Newington Road along Minto Street and towards Cameron Toll in the city.

Drivers swerved to avoid him as he tumbled to the ground, breaking his elbow and injuring his face.

“I remained conscious and quickly dragged myself to the kerb. I was very grateful to have a few drivers stop and help me. I was able to sit against a wall but was bleeding heavily from my mouth.”

Mr Slorance was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and later had two large pins put into his elbow.

Despite the severity of his injuries and witnesses stating they had seen Mr Slorance hit the hole in the road, without proof the pothole had been there for a certain length of time or had been reported and not repaired, he was not eligible for compensation.

“As well as the physical pain, I suffered a whole range of mental and other emotions. I was angry, I was embarrassed, I was anxious, and I was, and still am, just a wee bit more nervous every time I get on a bike.”