Taxpayers count the cost as County Council forks out £2.6 million for pothole damage

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06 May 2014

More than £2.6 million has been paid out in compensation to drivers and pedestrians across Staffordshire in recent years because of damage caused by the county’s deteriorating roads and pavements.

Between April 1st 2010 and March 31st 2014, the County Council fielded 3,335 claims for highway defects and a further 498 caused by crumbling footpaths. They resulted in a total pay-out of £2,638,124.

The figures were obtained by Newcastle’s Labour MP Paul Farrelly who said the deteriorating condition of roads and pavements revealed a worrying level of neglect brought about by years of under-investment.

“We are now seeing the true cost of damage caused by cuts in the highway repairs budgets, he said. “The squeeze on spending has often forced the County Council to undertake ‘patch-up’ repairs rather than carry out proper resurfacing and this is just a false economy because the roads eventually have to be repaired properly anyway.” 

“Apart from causing injuries to people and damage to vehicles, the poor state of our roads I also bad for the local economy because it makes life difficult for businesses that depend on having a safe and reliable transport system. 

“But the problem is now being made even worse because of the number of claims for damage that are being routinely settled by the County. It means the Council is now having to divert limited funds that could otherwise have been spent on maintenance. We would not be facing such a huge compensation bill at all, of course, if the roads had been kept in good condition in the first place,” he said.

The scale of compensation settlements was revealed in a letter to Mr Farrelly and following recent announcements that the coalition Government had granted Staffordshire £2.1million to tackle the County’s repairs backlog.

Mr Farrelly had challenged the County Council to identify which locations in Newcastle would benefit from the additional funding but said he was disappointed by the limited information he had received.

In his reply, Simon Tagg, the County’s Cabinet Support Member for Transport, said the extra cash would be used to bring forward the existing repairs programme with the help of more pothole repair machines.

Only two locations in the Borough – the Nelson Place traffic island and the Oak Tree Lane roundabout at Talke– were singled out in the letter as benefiting from its programme of repairs.