Pothole compensation claims cost council £1m

A pothole on Woodfield Road, Balby. Picture: Andrew Roe
A pothole on Woodfield Road, Balby. Picture: Andrew Roe

Doncaster Council has shelled out nearly £1 million in compensation to motorists whose vehicles have been damaged by potholes.

The cash-strapped authority has paid out 107 times over the past three years, at a cost of just short of £931,000.

Motoring groups have labelled the payouts as a ‘dreadful’ waste of taxpayers’ cash after analysis showed the council has filled in 5,600 extra holes for the cost it had to dish out to motorists in a year.

However, the council blamed recent bad winters for the bill and said it was trying to minimise the number of potholes on the borough’s roads.

Following a Freedom of Information Act request, the council said it paid out £346.586.58 in the 2010/2011 financial year for 40 claims, followed by £288,667.46 and £295,452.26 for 17 and 50 claims respectively in the next two years.

The AA says it would have cost the council less to have resurfaced roads than have made the payouts.

Luke Bodset, of the AA, said: “The amount paid out for claims is a dreadful waste of taxpayers’ money.

“When you fill in a pothole it’s a short-term solution, a bit of a false economy, because the road is likely to have the same problem the following winter.

“It makes far more sense to actually resurface the roads, which ensures they will be in a better condition for longer.”

According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance, which publishes an annual survey of highways departments in all local authorities, the average cost to fill in a pothole in 2013 was £52.

As part of mayor Ros Jones’ three-year budget, which aims to save £109 million, the local authority is planning to reduce the £12m allocated to highways by £1.4m by 2017.

Coun Bill Mordue, cabinet member for highways, said a ‘full regime’ was in place for inspecting roads and footways.

He said: “Obviously, it is a massive strategic operation keeping all the roads in top condition all of the time.

“Sometimes defects can appear very quickly – certainly this can happen in winter months when there has been rain and then freezing weather.

“We do try to minimise this as much as we can by acting fast to undertake repairs and through our rigorous inspection process.”