Pothole claims fall again in Hartlepool – with just one case successful

Just 10 pothole claims were made against Hartlepool Council in the 2014-15 financial year, with one successful.

Just 10 pothole claims were made against Hartlepool Council in the 2014-15 financial year, with one successful.

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Just one pothole claim in Hartlepool was successful in the last year, according to figures.

Of 10 compensation claims against Hartlepool Borough Council in 2014-15, only one was successful, at a value of £92.

Coun Marjorie James

Coun Marjorie James

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, Hartlepool ranked 182nd for the number of claims.

Just 10% of the 10 claims proved successful, which is down 13% on last year’s figure of 23%, when three of 13 claims were successful at a cost of £406.

In 2012-13, meanwhile, there were 16 successful claims out of 43 against the council, working out at 37%.

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

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation

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 instead 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. But 28,971 claims in one year is still a huge number – three an hour, every day of the year.

“Ahead of the General Election an RAC Foundation poll found that the condition of roads and pavements was regarded as the number one transport issue amongst voters, just as it was back in 2010.

“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.

Coun Marjorie James, chairwoman of the council’s Neighbourhood Services Policy Committee, said: “Despite the ongoing cuts in government funding, the council continues to work very hard to ensure that roads in Hartlepool are maintained to a good standard.

“Earlier this year we carried out a road resurfacing programme, and in October there will be a further phase which will involve several areas across the town.

“We are pro-active and undertake frequent inspections of our roads and if any problems are identified we take action to put them right.

“We also encourage local residents and motorists to report any road defects to us.

“When it comes to dealing with insurance claims, the council adopts a fair, but firm approach and always investigates them thoroughly.

“On the rare occasions when we are at fault we admit liability, but when we are not at fault we defend ourselves very robustly.”