Council knocks back 94% of Sunderland drivers’ pothole claims

Potholes on Burnville Road, Eden Vale, Sunderland.
Potholes on Burnville Road, Eden Vale, Sunderland.
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Just 6% of pothole claims in Sunderland were successful in the last year, according to new figures.

Of 69 compensation claims against Sunderland City Council in 2014-15, just four were successful, at a value of £1,175.

Almost 29,000 drivers made claims against councils across the country for damage caused to vehicles by potholes in the last financial year.

Of the 200 local highways authorities which responded fully to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the RAC Foundation, Sunderland ranked 89th for number of claims.

Just 6% of the 69 claims proved successful, which is down 3% on last year’s figure of 9%, when six of 70 claims were successful at a cost of £1,110.

In 2012-13 there were four successful claims out of 101 against the council, working out at 4%.

In County Durham, two out of 38 claims were successful in 2014-15, at a value of £367.

Despite the nationwide figures appearing relatively low, the RAC Foundation believes that does not necessarily mean roads have improved.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “One reading of these figures could be 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 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.

“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.”