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Claims against council for pothole damage

Buckled wheels, burst tyres and sheered engine brackets were among the thousands of claims made against West Sussex County Council for pothole damage.



Over the past five years, the council has received around 3,460 compensation claims from drivers and forked out more than £214,000 to settle 513 of them.



While potholes topped the damage list, there were other causes.



The highest payout was for £7,622.84 to a driver in Littlehampton who damaged the bumper and rear of their car on an unlit mini roundabout in Worthing Road.



A pothole in Lower Street, Fittleworth saw £6,231.55 paid to a driver for damage to a wheel, rim and mudguard; and £3,176 was paid to a driver whose car was dented and lights damaged due to ice on the road at Station Road, Loxwood.



The condition of some of the county’s roads has cost the council a pretty penny, with multiple claims for the same stretches over the years.



Potholes along Forest Road, which runs between Pease Pottage and Horsham have led to £6,620 being paid to 19 claimants, with another seven receiving nothing.



In Crawley, potholes in Radford Road meant £4,700 was paid to five claimants, with eight more receiving nothing.



And in Haywards Heath, 29 claims were made due to pothole damage caused along Borde Hill Lane. Only eight claims were paid at a total of £1,927.



The figures, which were released under the Freedom of Information Act, show little difference in the rate of payouts per area.



They ranged from 14.1 per cent of claims in Mid Sussex to 17.7 per cent across Horsham and the South Downs.



Most claims – more than 1,000 – involved roads in the Chichester district, with Horsham and the South Downs next with more than 800 claims, Mid Sussex with more than 750, Crawley with more than 350, Arun with around 250, and Adur and Worthing with just shy of 200.



A council spokesman said: “Claims of this nature are dealt with on their legal merits whilst having consideration to the council’s policies and procedures for maintaining the highway and relevant legislation.



“Amounts of compensation paid are case specific and again accessed on their merits.”



There could be good news for drivers, though.



Since the lock-down, the county council has worked with Balfour Beatty to carry out more than 7,000 safety repairs to its roads, mainly involving potholes.



On top of that, the government recently awarded West Sussex £9,8m to improve the road network.



While £2m of that will be used for safety features such as new signs and road markings, £7.8m will be added to the £8m already lined up for this financial year and used for pothole prevention.



Cllr Roger Elkins, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: “The extra funding from the government is excellent news for all road users in West Sussex.



“This, together with the funds we had already allocated, means a total of £15m is planned to be spent on pothole prevention measures.



“This level of commitment to improve our highway network shows how seriously we take the issue of potholes, which we appreciate is a source of frustration and concern for all road users.



“It also shows we want to find longer-term solutions to the pothole issue with the emphasis on preventative measures rather than short-term fixes, wherever possible, and where finite resources permit.”



By Karen Dunn, local democracy reporter

Posted in Local Developments, News.