£830k paid out in compensation in just two years
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.”
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