Figures revealed from Freedom of Information applications show that almost 50,000 people made claims to councils in the UK due to damage to their vehicles caused by roads with potholes. The director of the RAC, Professor Stephen Galister, has responded to the news by saying that this was ìlikely to be the tip of the icebergî and that more financing was needed for Britainís roads.
This comes after the government, fronted by the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, declared that it would be giving nearly £6 billion to its local councils over the course of six years in order to improve roads.
200 local highway authorities in the UK, out of the entire 207, engaged with 48,664 compensation claims in the financial year of 2013/14, which works out to a claim applied for every 11 minutes throughout the year. It was an increase from the 46,139 that were made in the previous financial year.
The successful claims amounted to £3.2 million, whilst the vast majority of claims were roundly denied with just under 23% winning out. Furthermore, the transport policy and research organisation has informed that the average amount given for each claim in 2013/14 was £286, which is down from £357 in the year before. Regardless of the success of each claim, the average administration cost came to £147.
Professor Galister went on to say: ìMany drivers will be put off by the time involved in claiming against a council, and many councils do their best to deter claimants coming forward.î
His primary concern was the governmentís failure to back local councils. Figures show that local authorities have a maintenance build-up that amounts to roughly £12 billion and he referred to the fact that the government has overseen a 22% reduction in financing of all roads in England and Wales.
He added: ìWorn out road surfaces do not simply cause damage to vehicles, they are also potentially lethal, particularly for two-wheeled road usersÖThis is about prioritisation and our roads should be at the top of the list. Thatís not just our view, it is a regular response from the public when they are asked to give their transport priorities.î
The council with the largest number of claims received was Surrey, with 3912. They provided financial relief for 20% of those cases, paying out £250,289. Essex was the second on this league table, with 2548 claims, but they only approved a staggering 3.8% of those, which amounted to £156,008.
The shadow transport secretary, Michael Dugher, corroborated the views of Professor Gallister, stating: ìHard-pressed road users and businesses are justifiably sick and tired of having their vehicles damaged because of Britainís pothole crisis.î
In response to this, a representative from the Department for Transport commented: ìGood local roads are vital for our transport network and it is for local councils to maintain them properly.î
The representative looked to their ìlong-term economic planî and the strategy to spend the £6 billion between the years of 2015 and 2021, which would give the local authorities the ìcertaintyî that was necessary to maintain roads for their citizens.