20th Jan, 2019

Potholes: Solihull council compensates only one in ten damage claims so far this year

Felix Nobes 20th Apr, 2018

SOLIHULL council has so far agreed to pay compensation to only around 10 per cent of those who have claimed for vehicle damages caused by potholes this year – despite worsening road conditions.

Data from the council also shows a rise in compensation claims since 2015 which looks set to reach an all-time high by the end of this year.

As we reported last month, Solihull is among the 13 local authorities out of 151 which saw an increase in the proportion of its road network considered inadequate since 2009, BBC data shows.

It is one of only five local authorities to register a rise (of two per cent) from 2009 to last year in the length of ‘A’ roads that need maintenance – five per cent (54km) of the total A road network in the borough.

A council report on pothole compensation, responding to the low numbers of road users who successfully receive compensation, states: “We receive a number of claims from highway users for damage however very few claims are successful.

“This is because we have a good system of inspection and maintenance and the likely reason the defect was still in the road was because we didn’t know about it and could not repair it as it had not been reported or was not there on the last inspection.”

The data we collected showed there has been 127 claims made since the beginning of this year.

In the whole of last year, there were 180 claims made of which only 69 (38 per cent) were successful.

According to figures, only 19 (14 per cent) claims have been successful so far this year – but that figure could rise.

Solihull will receive around £280,000 from the government’s department for transport to mend miles of road in ‘poor condition’ and in need of essential maintenance.

The council told us it had filled in around 588 potholes over the winter period, with roads badly affected by freezing temperatures, snow and ice.

Case study:

Pauline Innes contacted us with regard to a rejected claim she submitted to Solihull council.

She said: “As we turned right from the main road in Chadwick End into Netherwood Lane, after a short distance the side of the road had collapsed resulting in a huge hole extending 30 inches into the road and at least five inches deep.

“Our car wheels dropped into the jagged hole resulting in both the front and rear wheel inside walls of the tyres being ripped

– we eventually purchased two new tyres.”

Mrs Innes said she made a claim to the council to pay for damage caused to the car.

She said: “I made a claim to Solihull council only to be told that they would not take responsibility because a repair had been made at the site 11 months before.

“They say someone had reported the site of the incident again five days earlier, so although at least one other car we know of incurred a burst tyre at the same place only days before us, the council will not accept responsibility.

“I fail to understand why, if it had been reported five days earlier, it had not been repaired, or marked, to prevent our accident or the persons in the previous day to ours.

“On receipt of their email refusing our claim, my husband went to check if the hole had been repaired.

“He found a very poor repair with insufficient tarmac used, and a similar hole just metres further on, that extended 20 inches into the road and also five inches deep, had not been touched.

The council said the claim was rejected as they could demonstrate ‘a reasonable system of inspection and repair as required under the Highways Act.’

Mrs Innes continued: “After an incident like this you become all to aware of the poor state of the roads even in the centre of Solihull, which are all potentially accidents waiting to happen.”

For more on the BBC’s findings visit www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43407167

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