Roads are a hole lot of trouble

Con­di­tion of sur­face is slammed af­ter driver is de­nied com­pen­sa­tion

The Oban Times - - News - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­

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.

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