Pothole damage claims drop in Sunderland

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THE number of claims made about potholes causing damage to vehicles has dropped in the city.

Research by the RAC Foundation revealed that, in the financial year 2013/14, Sunderland City Council received 70 claims from motorists saying their vehicle had been damaged by a pothole.

Only six of these claims proved successful with a total payout of £1,110.22.

In the financial year 2012/13 the city council received 101 claims. Of these, just four were successful with a total payout of £753.50.

Nationally, the research found almost 50,000 drivers made claims against councils across the UK for damage caused to their vehicles by potholes in 2013/14. Two hundred of the 207 local highways authorities in England, Scotland and Wales responded to a Freedom Of Information request by the RAC Foundation and together they dealt with 48,664 compensation claims.

Councils refused the majority of claims, agreeing to pay out in less than a quarter of cases and the total amount was £3.2million.

The average payout for a successful claim in 2013/14 was £286, down from £357 the year before, and the average administration cost of each claim, successful or not, was £147.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “These figures are likely to be the tip of the iceberg. Many drivers will be put off by the time involved in claiming against a council, and many local authorities do their best to deter claimants coming forward.

“The fundamental problem lies not at the doors of our town halls but with central Government. Despite occasional one-off grants related to periods of harsh weather, they are simply not giving councils enough money to keep their road networks up to scratch.

“In England, local authorities themselves estimate the maintenance backlog to be about £12billion yet over the past five years spending on all roads in real terms has dropped 22 per cent across England and Wales.

“Worn out road surfaces do not simply cause damage to vehicles they are also potentially lethal, particularly for two-wheeled road users.”