Northamptonshire council among top 10 for most pothole compensation claims and payouts

Mark Morrell outside Northamptonshire County Council's offices after serving a notice for the local authority to fix potholes in 2018
Mark Morrell outside Northamptonshire County Council's offices after serving a notice for the local authority to fix potholes in 2018

Northamptonshire County Council is in the top 10 local authorities in the country for compensation claims and payouts over pothole damage.

In 2018/19, the council spent £214,804.22 on pothole-related compensation claims - the third-highest in England, according to Freedom of Information requests.

And the county council received 2,047 claims, putting it fifth in the English top-10, research by car leasing website LeaseCar.uk reveals.

National anti-pothole campaigner Mark Morrell, also known as Mr Pothole and from Brackley, said he was not surprised by the figures.

"The roads are in an appalling state in Northamptonshire and are some of the worst in the country," he said.

"I have sympathy for them though as they haven't got enough money from the Government to fix the roads, as well as other issues, but they're not on their own.

"A lack of investment over a period of decades has been the problem and we now have failing roads."

Potholes are caused by water that seeps into the tarmac and then expands as temperatures drop below freezing during the winter, cracking the road surface.

Driving over one can jolt and damage a vehicle’s suspension, affect the condition of wheels and in extreme cases even puncture or burst tyres.

Today is National Pothole Day and Mr Morrell was part of a protest in central London over the lack of Government funding involving a big orange tank.

A spokesperson for LeaseCar.uk said: “Potholes aren’t just ugly and inconvenient – they regularly cause damage to vehicles and can be dangerous.

“We understand that many local authorities are strapped for cash and have to tighten their belts, but as motoring specialists, we believe road maintenance should be a higher priority than it currently is.

“Taking greater steps to repair and prevent potholes would improve safety for road users and be popular among the voters across the country that councillors are accountable to.

“It could also ultimately reduce councils’ costs by bringing down the number of successful compensation claims by long-suffering vehicle owners."

In a response to the county council spending £195,343.81 on pothole compensation claims in 2018, a spokesman said last month: “As the responsible highways authority for Northamptonshire we are continuing to work to our policy, which determines the safety intervention levels.

“We inspect the roads and footways all year round but also ask that people use our Fix My Street service to report any defects.

"If defects meet our intervention levels they will be repaired as part of our programme.

“When using the Fix My Street service we ask that they provide as much detail as possible to include an exact location.

"The council has no influence over whether a motorist makes a claim or not.

"However Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980 provides the county council with a statutory defence against claims where it can establish that reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the part of the highway to which the action relates was not dangerous to traffic."