Sunderland pothole payouts among the lowest in UK – despite drivers claims tripling

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POTHOLE payouts by Sunderland City Council are among the lowest in the country – despite drivers’ claims almost tripling.

New figures reveal the number of motorists demanding cash after holes in the road damaged their vehicles rose from 41 in 2011/12 to 116 in 2012/13.

But despite this rise, the amount paid out by the authority increased only slightly, from £607 to £753.

In contrast, Lincolnshire County Council reported payouts of more than £358,665 in 2012/13.

UK councils received 32,600 compensation claims in the past financial year.

Coun James Blackburn, cabinet member for city services, said: “The council has a robust highway inspection regime, appropriate response times for repair, thorough and robust claims handling, and every effort is made to protect both the safety of the travelling public and the public purse.

“However, like local authorities across the country, highways work in Sunderland is under pressure because of budgetary constraints.”

The data, from driving organisation Britannia Rescue, shows that local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland paid out a total of £2.5million in compensation for pothole or other road damage in the past financial year. In the past 12 months, one in 10 people say their car has been damaged as a result of poor road surfaces, with the average repair costing £140. The most common problems are tyre damage (43 per cent), damaged suspension (34 per cent) and damaged wheel rims (26 per cent).

Peter Horton, managing director of Britannia Rescue, said: “Britain’s pothole epidemic has resulted from years of underinvestment in our roads and has been exacerbated by recent harsh winters. Local authorities face difficult choices in the roads they prioritise for repair, and we now have around 200,000 potholes on UK roads.

“Motorists should protect themselves and their vehicles by reducing their speed on potholed roads, and also reporting damaged roads to their local council.”