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Claims for damages caused by potholes cost Lincolnshire County Council £1.2 million in two years

Potholes on roads in Lincolnshire have cost the county council almost £1.2 million in legal claims for damages in the past two years.

An investigation by the Mercury has revealed there were 384 personal injury claims over this period and 4,726 claims for property damage.

This equates to around 213 per month, according to the figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Potholes are causing motorists to make claims for personal injury and vehicle damage
Potholes are causing motorists to make claims for personal injury and vehicle damage

Claims and payouts in 2018 were far higher than in 2019 with Lincolnshire County Council coughing up around £1.05 million followed by £130,000. This was spread over 3,589 and 1,521 claims respectively.

The council says it takes the condition of the county’s 5,500 miles of roads very seriously but has struggled with “chronic underinvestment” from central government.

It has spent £38.5 million on proactive roadworks since 2010 and around £3.6 million ‘reactively’ responding to reports of damage to highways.

Coun Richard Davies, executive member for highways, said: "In 2019, we saw a significant reduction in the number of claims compared to the year before, showing an improving picture on the roads.

"The council hates potholes just as much as drivers do, and we repaired over 8,000 on our roads in January alone. However, with around 5,500 miles of roads across Lincolnshire, it would be unreasonable to expect them all to be completely free of potholes at all times.

"We do everything we can to repair potholes as quickly as possible, prioritising repairs on the busiest roads and those that pose the most risk to drivers. Dangerous defects are often dealt with within 24 hours, while more minor defects will be repaired in a matter of weeks.”

He added: "The council does the absolute best it can with the resources we have, but ultimately our road network has suffered from chronic underinvestment from central government. This is why we will keep pressing for fairer funding for Lincolnshire's roads."

Meanwhile, figures obtained by this newspaper show the county council in Rutland has paid out £9,446 over the past two years spanning a total of 29 pothole-related claims.

Coun Lucy Stephenson, portfolio holder for highways, said the authority was investing in its roads to reduce the figure.

She said: “Rutland County Council recognises that potholes cause frustration to motorists, and also have the potential to cause damage to vehicles.

“Rutland has some of the best maintained roads in the country and we are currently spending £2.4million (including £845,000 of highway funding awarded by central government) to make sure the county’s roads are of a high standard.

“We are continually seeking to improve our approach and have worked with our contractors to put in place a more efficient system to ensure potholes are responded to speedily according to the level of severity – two hours for an urgent repair, two days for a priority upgrade and seven days for a lower priority maintenance.

“Should a risk to public safety be considered, the pothole is filled within our two hour urgent repair threshold.

“We proactively monitor the condition of our roads and encourage road users and residents to report any issues they identify through Fix My Street.”

Potholes are formed when water seeps into tiny cracks in the road that are usually caused by traffic.

The cracks widen when the water freezes and expands which leaves pockets of air when the waters later melts.

The constant pressure from cars and lorries then causes areas of the road surface to collapse and form craters.

Have you made a claim or been affected by potholes on roads in the area? Send us your photos and experiences to steve.creswell@iliffepublishing.co.uk

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