Loop­hole means hun­dreds of pot­hole claims re­jected

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kentish Express Time Capsule From Our Archives - By Paul Fran­cis

Kent County Coun­cil has re­jected more than 500 pot­hole com­pen­sa­tion claims from mo­torists in two years – on the grounds it was plan­ning to re­pair the roads in the fu­ture.

A law per­mits au­thor­i­ties to dis­miss claims made by mo­torists whose cars have been dam­aged by de­fec­tive roads if they can demon­strate the road in ques­tion was sched­uled for re­pair “within rea­son­able time”.

Fig­ures pro­vided to the KM Group un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­veal that 568 claims for com­pen­sa­tion have been turned down by the county coun­cil in the past two years on these grounds.

That is 360 more than the num­ber of claims ad­mit­ted by the coun­cil over the same pe­riod.

The abil­ity of coun­cils to ar­gue they are not li­able cen­tres on them be­ing able to show they have a sys­tem in place for reg­u­lar road in­spec­tions and re­pairs.

The govern­ment an­nounced ear­lier this year a £70 mil­lion fund for coun­cils to tackle the pro­lif­er­a­tion of pot­holes, say­ing that it would help re­pair more than 1.3 mil­lion of them.

But coun­cils said while ad­di­tional money for fix­ing pot­holes was wel­come, re­cent anal­y­sis showed the over­all re­pair bill could reach £14 bil­lion within two years.

On its web­site, KCC makes clear that most claims are un­suc­cess­ful and urges mo­torists to think care­fully be­fore lodg­ing one.

Philip Gomm of the RAC Foun­da­tion said: “The coun­cil has a whole list of le­gal ex­cuses to hide be­hind when it comes to de­fend­ing a com­pen­sa­tion claim, but these will be of lit­tle interest to driv­ers left foot­ing large re­pair bills be­cause of the poor state of the roads.

“Ul­ti­mately, we need a rea­son­able, long-term fund­ing set­tle­ment for lo­cal road main­te­nance sim­i­lar to the ring-fenced fund­ing promised for mo­tor­ways from 2020.

“Un­til then – and de­spite the coun­cil’s best en­deav­ours – driv­ers us­ing the 5,500 miles of KCC­con­trolled roads will never quite know what they’ll find round the cor­ner, or what dam­age it might do to their ve­hi­cle.”

What do you think? write to us at 7 High Street, Gravesend, Kent DA11 0BQ, or email gravesendmes­sen­ger@ thek­m­group.co.uk

Hun­dreds of claims across Kent have been re­jected

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