FEATURE: Are spiralling pothole repair costs driving us potty

Pothole EMN-150316-173940001
Pothole EMN-150316-173940001

The state of our roads can drive everyone potty...but an extra £10 million would be needed to bring our highways up to a ‘reasonable condition’ it has been claimed. Lynne Harrison reports...

A report from the RAC Foundation reveals Lincolnshire is Britain’s 13th worst for high numbers of drivers claiming compensation for pothole damage to cars.

Figures released by the independent motoring charity also show Lincolnshire County Council paid-up on just 55 per cent of the 568 claims made during the 2014-15 year, handing over a grand total of £42,784.

In 2012-13, some 1,127 motorists applied for compensation and the council shelled out in 91 per cent of those cases, handing over a staggering £161,199.

There were 917 claims in 2013-14 and the council paid 76 per cent with the overall bill coming to £94,725.

A county council spokesman told us: “I’m afraid we don’t have an explanation for the percentage pay out figure being lower now than it was three years ago.

“The process is still the same as it always has been and the proof that people need to give is also the same.”

Lincolnshire was given an extra £9 million this year to tackle potholes but the council now says it would need a further £10 million to keep the roads ‘in reasonable condition’.

The RAC Foundation compiled its report after 200 local authorities replied to questions.

Claims for pothole compensation nationally for 2014-15 totalled almost 29,000 – one every 18 minutes, 365 days a year – compared to the previous financial year when there were 48,945 claims, one every 11 minutes.

The national compensation bill totalled £2 million, while average individual settlements rose slightly from £286 to £294.

The RAC Foundation says fewer claims for compensation may simply mean that councils are successfully deterring drivers from jumping through the hoops to get cash for cars damaged on our potholed roads,

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “One reading of these figures is 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.”

Mr Gooding said the condition of roads and pavements was regarded as the number one transport issue among voters in the last two general elections.

He said: “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.”