Motorists are being denied millions of pounds in compensation for damage and injuries caused by potholes.
(Cyclists are at the greatest risk of serious injury from potholes, with 425 killed or injured because of poor or defective road surfaces since 2016, according to government figures.)
Ben Clatworthy www.thetimes.co.uk
Local authorities are rejecting on average 75 per cent of claims, although one in five councils reject at least 90 per cent.
It was found that Dundee city council rejected 96 per cent of claims over a three-year period. Each year at least 45 of 50 highway authorities rejected more claims than they paid out on.
Councils have been accused of trying to “wriggle out of responsibility” for defective road surfaces which shred tyres, damage car suspension and injure cyclists.
Rod Dennis, of the RAC, told the Daily Mail: “Drivers may not be aware that their chances of claiming any pothole damage costs back from a local authority is virtually zero if the council can say it wasn’t aware of a problem with the road in the first place.”
The newspaper analysed claims data from a sample of 50 highway authorities obtained via freedom of information requests, looking at the three financial years from April 2019 to March last year.
Overall about £3 million was paid out in compensation by the same group each year.
However, with about 75 per cent of claims being rejected each year, it could mean up to £9 million was denied by these 50 councils alone.
Gloucestershire county council settled only 93 of the 1,667 claims it received. Transport for London closed 93 per cent of claims without compensation and has so far paid out on only 24 of the total 776.
Lincolnshire had one of the best payout rates of the group, approving 48 per cent of claims.
Cyclists are at the greatest risk of serious injury from potholes, with 425 killed or injured because of poor or defective road surfaces since 2016, according to government figures.
Keir Gallagher, Cycling UK’s campaigns manager, said: “One pothole can cause an experienced cyclist to suffer a life-changing collision.”
A Local Government Association spokesman said councils “prefer to use their budgets to keep our roads in good condition” rather than paying out for compensation claims, while a spokesman for Gloucestershire county council said “almost 5,000” potholes were filled in April alone.
A Dundee city council spokesman said: “Each claim is dealt with on its individual merits.”