July 28 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Claims for damage done by pot-holes on Norfolk’s roads has fallen, despite council bosses having less money to spend on fixing problems.
In 2012, motorists submitted claims of £329,584 for damage done to vehicles on Norfolk’s roads, but up until the end of April this year, just £10,768 worth of claims had been lodged with County Hall.
And council officers believe part of the reason for fewer claims is that drivers understand the financial pressures which the county council is under.
The budget for maintaining the county’s roads had gone down from £36.7m in 2010/11 to £30.5m in 2014/15. That was ‘topped up’ thanks to government grants of about £3m to fix flood damaged roads and £5.4m from a £200m pot-hole fund.
The issue came under the spotlight at a meeting of Norfolk County Council’s environment, transport and development, where councillors asked whether compensation claims had increased as spending on roads fell.
But Tracy Jessop, assistant director for highways and transport at Norfolk County Council, said: “You’d think there would be a correlation between investment and the level of pay-outs, but although investment has reduced there has been a reduction in claims against the authority.
“I would suggest that is because of our targeted approach. And there’s also anecdotal evidence that people, who previously might have claimed for a chip flying up and hitting their car, are not making claims because they understand the financial pressure we are under.”
The council has adopted what it calls a “pragmatic” approach to managing the roads, using “cost effective intermediate treatments” such as surface dressing to treat as much of the network as possible. About £9m is being spent on surface dressing each year.
The council says it would cost £72.5m to bring the county’s roads back up to the condition they were in during 2006/7.
In April, a Freedom of Information request revealed how, between 2009/10 and 2013/14, Norfolk County Council paid out £67,944.70 in compensation claims for pot-hole damage.
Suffolk paid out £61,344, which includes its own legal fees, and Cambridgeshire County Council £338,483.71.
In Norfolk, successful claims were made by cyclists, motorcyclists, and owners of other vehicles, as well as the owner of a building which was damaged by water and debris thrown up from a pot-hole.
The largest payment of £1,800 was made to a man in Norfolk who lost control and crashed after hitting a series of pot-holes which deflated his tyres.
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