Mounting claims against council for pothole damage

Potholes on the road that runs from the East Thornton junction to the main road into Netherwitton.
Potholes on the road that runs from the East Thornton junction to the main road into Netherwitton.

The cost of claims made against Northumberland County Council for damage to vehicles as a result of potholes has more than doubled.

Figures obtained by Coun Steven Bridgett, member for Rothbury, show that in 2017/18 claims made against the council totalled £147,504 compared to £61,043 the previous year.

The authority is also bracing itself for further payouts with 518 claims still outstanding, as of May 14, at a value of £236,244.

A council spokesman said: “The council takes the quality of road surfaces and repair of potholes very seriously - and invests considerable time and resource in making improvements.

“With over 3,000 miles of road, the county has one of the largest highway networks in the North East.

“The weather this winter has been more severe than normal, with repeated freeze thaw cycles taking place from October right through the winter causing significant deterioration of road surfaces, which has then been compounded by the extremely severe ‘Beast from the East’ weather event.

“This has led to a significant increase in the numbers of pothole reports and accident damage claims being reported to the council.

“It should be noted that the insurance claims received this year are not limited to damage from potholes and also include accidental damage claims in relation to for example vehicles that were buried in snow drifts.

“Many other councils across the country are also reporting similar significant highway damage and increased insurance claim issues as a result of the severe winter weather this year.

“The county council has reacted quickly and is investing heavily in the maintenance of the network, our in-house teams are working tirelessly and are being supported by additional external contractors to improve the condition of our road network by the autumn, with over £5million being allocated to undertake a range of maintenance activity that includes more significant improvement schemes that represent better long term value for money, rather than just patching and repair.

“We are already seeing the benefits of this additional activity, but ask that road users bear with us whilst we work hard to get on top of the damage.”

Concerns about potholes and other road defects can be reported to the council online at www.northumberland.gov.uk or by phoning 0345 6006400.

The Gazette launched its Probe Into Potholes campaign at the beginning of March in an attempt to improve our road surfaces.

The aims of the campaign were to:

Raise awareness of the correct ways to report potholes – the council will not be able to repair them if it does not know of their existence through the proper channels – log on to http://bit.ly/NCCpothole for more information;

Openly engage with you our readers in highlighting the worst potholes. We want you to tell us if your car has been damaged by a particularly deep hole in the road. But first, make sure it has been reported to the county council;

Work with Northumberland County Council to help address them.

Working with our sister newspapers across England, we will support the council in any lobbying of central government for additional funding.