April 19th, 2012 |
County Council Paying Over A Million Pounds A Year In Pothole Compensation
POTHOLES on Essex roads have forced the council to pay injured motorists and pedestrians more than £4 million in compensation in just three years.
A Chronicle Freedom of Information request reveals Essex County Council paid £4,395,144 of taxpayers’ money in damages to residents hurt by falling or driving into potholes on our county’s roads.
And with budgets being squeezed at county hall and funding for capital projects cut to a third, opposition councillors say that compensation claims are likely only to rise.
Tom Smith-Hughes, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “Contrary to what the administration has been saying – the state of our roads is pretty bad.
“Compensation claims are only likely to rise with the cuts, as there won’t be enough money to fix all the roads.
“My one worry is that the council accepts these payouts because it can’t afford to fix the underlying problem.”
Neil Greig, the Essex spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “The problem lies partly in years of underinvestment.
“Essex, like most local authorities, has fallen into that trap.
“Not only are we wasting millions of pounds in compensation claims but we have a huge backlog of roads that need improving.
It’s going to take years to sort this out. A good starting point would be for the Conservatives on the County Council to admit they have got us into this mess. They can’t say they weren’t warned. The Lib Dems warned back in 2008:
“It will mean that people in Essex will have to get used to bigger potholes being around for longer, as the ruling party fail to balance its funding of road maintenance. The proposals come just weeks after the Conservatives announced a £10m overspend on the highways budget.
“The report is riddled with inconsistencies and it is hard to see how it will be of benefit to residents . The basic premise seems to be to wait until damage to road surfaces get worse before even looking to see whether it should be fixed or not. The Conservatives are recommending that when dealing with misaligned kerbs, for example, there is no commitment at all to provide a date for work to be carried out.
“Apart from the obvious inconvenience to the public, we have concerns about the additional hazard that damaged road and footpath surfaces will have for cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians alike. This will inevitably lead to more and higher level compensation claims being made against the council.