Loophole means hundreds of pothole claims rejected
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