Roads are a hole lot of trouble
Condition of surface is slammed after driver is denied compensation
ARGYLL and Bute has ‘the worst roads in Scotland’ due to potholes, a meeting of Glenorchy and Innishail Community Council heard last month.
The meeting in Dalmally Church Hall discussed ‘on-going efforts to claim compensation for vehicle damage caused by third world roads’.
One local motorist reported she and others had damaged their cars on a pothole on the A819, six miles from Inveraray.
Community council secretary John Kerr said: ‘If tourists find it, they won’t come back again.’
The driver, who lives near Dalmally, told The Oban Times: ‘I was just pootling along, when “bang”! I passed people in the lay-by who also had a puncture.’
The repair bill to her tyres and alloys, including labour and VAT, was £1,000. She said mechanics at the garage told her about 15 other vehicles had been damaged by that pothole. Most were hire cars.
In the week after the incident on Monday April 4, she noticed the pothole had been filled in.
She then put in a claim for compensation to Argyll and Bute Council. Its insurance official replied last month: ‘There is no automatic right to compensation under Scots law.
‘The courts have confirmed that road authorities are not expected to maintain their roads in a perfect condition at all times and road users should not expect roads to be perfect.
‘The council will have a defence to a claim of this nature, if it can be shown that a reasonable system of inspection and maintenance was in place at the time of the incident and that this system was adhered to.
‘The road is inspected on a bi-monthly basis as per the council’s Asset Management Plan. The last inspection carried out prior to your incident occurred on March 1 2016 when no defects were identified.
‘If a defect develops between inspection periods, they are outwith the reasonable control of the council unless they have been reported. There are no records of this defect being reported from the last scheduled inspection to the date of your incident.’
Therefore, because this ‘defect was unknown to the council, and it had ‘a reasonable system of inspection and repair’, the council denied liability and repudiated the claim.
The driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘If you go into a pothole, you can’t get compensation unless you can prove someone has reported it. It’s difficult to prove if someone has reported it or not – you just have to take the council’s word.’
The Oban Times contacted Argyll and Bute Council to ask when, and how many times, the pothole had been reported and when it was filled in.
A spokesperson responded: ‘This issue developed very quickly one afternoon. Once we became aware of it, we effected a temporary repai r. We continue to carry out reactive repairs as and when required. We have scheduled a permanent repair as part of this year’s capital programme.’
The motorist suggested starting an online ‘pothole club’ for drivers to post photos of the potholes they have reported.
‘It’s in our interest to inform the council,’ she added. ‘The onus is on the general public: the council can’t be everywhere.
‘It was a big hole, and a lot of cars went into it. Maybe their inspection of the main roads should be more than every two months. We’re expected to keep our cars MOT’d, taxed and in good condition. Motorists are keeping their side of the bargain so why isn’t the council?’
Potholes can be reported by calling 01546 605514 or through a form on the council website.