COUNCIL roads bosses would not pay out on more than £650,000-worth of pothole damage claims in the last six years – four times the amount they avoided paying in the five years before that.
As The Citizen revealed last month, despite claims for damage to vehicles rocketing in the last 11 years – the percentage paid out plummeted from 40 per cent to six per cent in that time.
And, now, more figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that in the past six years, Gloucestershire County Council has paid out just £55,000, despite receiving four times the number of claims it did in the five years before that, where it paid out £32,000.
Chris Mullins, who runs Chris Mullins Tyres in Bristol Road, Gloucester said pothole victims come to his firm almost every day.
“It is a very sad state of affairs,” he said. “Normally it wrecks a tyre but if you’re unlucky, a wheel will be damaged too.
“We even say to people who are thinking of putting in a claim, ‘good luck’ because most of them won’t get anywhere.”
The floods of 2007 hit roads hard, and the number of claims more than doubled in 2007/8 - with the value of those rejected also doubling.
The Highways Act 1980 imposes a legal obligation to keep roads safe and councils do this with regular inspections, identifying defects and making arrangements for repairs.
If a council complies with the national code of practice, it is usually not liable for damage caused to vehicles as a result of road defects.
Scott Tompkins, lead commissioner for highways said Gloucestershire County Council has invested an extra £5.9million on roads over the last year.
“We pay drivers who have a legitimate claim for compensation but our strong performance in finding and fixing potholes through our road safety inspections means most claims aren’t successful,” he said.“We only pay legitimate claims because every pound we pay in compensation is a pound we can’t spend to maintain Gloucestershire’s roads.
“Last year we filled an additional 22,000 potholes after we brought in six extra gangs.”