£830k paid out in com­pen­sa­tion in just two years

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART GREER

COM­PEN­SA­TION claims to­talling more than £830,000 have been paid out by Cheshire East Coun­cil in the last two years.

Re­search shows 334 claims cost the au­thor­ity £561,695 in 2013-14, while in 2014-15 there were 48 claims to­talling £274,189.

A ma­jor trig­ger for claims was pot­holes in the road, which sparked 267 suc­cess­ful claims for a to­tal of £237,948 in 2013-14, rang­ing from £40 to £24,161.

The next high­est cat­e­gory for claims was pave­ment prob­lems, with £183,410 paid out be­cause of kerb trips, un­even sur­faces and loose or un­even flag­stones.

There were also three claims to­talling £14,109 for dam­age caused to prop­erty by tree roots grow­ing on coun­cil-owned land.

The high­est pay­out that year was £26,851 in re­la­tion to ‘lift­ing or han­dling a per­son’, while at the other end of the scale was £41 for ‘dam­age by coun­cil op­er­a­tives’.

While the num­ber of claims for pot­hole dam­age dropped sig­nif­i­cantly in 2014-15 to 17, to­talling £57,060, claims due to pave­ments re­mained high at £149,970.

There were also seven claims to­talling £38,596 for dam­age caused to prop­erty by tree roots grow­ing on coun­cil-owned land.

The high­est pay­out that year was £50,000 re­lat­ing to a dam­aged pub­lic util­ity cover. There was also a claim for £5,000 af­ter the dis­cov­ery of as­bestos.

Na­tion­ally the re­search shows more than £104m was paid out in com­pen­sa­tion claims against lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Eng­land, Scot­land and Wales over 2013-14 and 2014-15, with more than 42,000 pay­ments made.

Nearly £8m of that was in re­la­tion to pot­holes.

Jonathan Is­aby, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Tax­Pay­ers’ Al­liance, which car­ried out the re­search, said: “The com­pen­sa­tion cul­ture is cost­ing tax­pay­ers dear and ev­ery pound spent on set­tle­ments or higher in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums is a pound that isn’t spent on es­sen­tial ser­vices such as road main­te­nance or so­cial care.

“Of course, some of the pay­ments made by coun­cils will be en­tirely jus­ti­fied, as the most se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents can change lives. But in many cases, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and their staff will be fail­ing to live up to the stan­dards re­quired of them by law or pay­ing out on friv­o­lous claims too eas­ily.”

A spokesman for the coun­cil said com­pen­sa­tion pay­ments had more than halved be­tween 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Coun­cil­lor Peter Groves, cab­i­net mem­ber in charge of fi­nance and as­sets, said: “The fall off in claims demon­strates that Cheshire East has in­vested in its res­i­dents by en­sur­ing that roads re­ceived reg­u­lar main­te­nance, that path­ways were made safe and any health and safety risks re­ceived im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion.

“This shows we are a car­ing coun­cil and re­spond to any cir­cum­stances that could im­pact on the safety of our res­i­dents.”

Gary Louth

●● Thomas Dolan with some of his lat­est graf­fiti art

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