Posted: 14.08.19 at 07:37 by The Editor
Lincolnshire County Council has paid out £151,193 in compensation claims for vehicles damaged by potholes, damaged roads and pavements in 2018/19 – a 22 percent increase compared to the previous year.
According to new Freedom of Information (FOI) figures gathered by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the county council received 1,875 claims of which, to date, 584 have been successful.
That's a 31 percent claim success rate, with an average pay out per claim of £259.
Lincolnshire's figures represent 42 percent of the East Midland's successful claims and 46 percent of the total paid out by the five local authorities in the region, who reported a combined total of 1,375 successful claims, amounting to £326,354 paid out in compensation.
In the previous year Lincolnshire County Council paid out £124,299 to 562 successful claimants.
FSB also found that the local authority spent less on highways in 2018/19 – £51,300,059 compared to the previous year's £51,375,344.
These figures include road and pavement repairs and services such as street lighting, traffic signals and winter maintenance.
The council received 18,007 'surface defect' enquiries in 2018/19, again lower than in 2017/18 when the figure was 21,218. Some of these related to the same issue raised by multiple people.
Small businesses rely heavily on the road network, with nine in 10 small firms considering it to be important for their staff, customers and trade deliveries.
In the light of its findings, the FSB is calling for a number of measures to help improve road infrastructure across the country, including:
· More funding for local authorities from central government to support planned regular maintenance programmes and help alleviate the pothole problem.
· Better coordination between utilities providers and local authorities when roads need to be dug up, with the time that utility providers are responsible for the road they have dug up extended from the current two to five years.
· Government ensuring there is a simple system for both reporting potholes locally, as well as for submitting claims for damage to vehicles.
· Local authorities using innovative technology to monitor road condition to enable them to identify deteriorating roads, learning from trailblazer councils.
Michael Weedon, FSB Policy Representative in the East Midlands, said: “Potholes are a major concern for the nation’s small businesses.
"Our members in the East Midlands rely heavily on the local road network, with their staff, customers and trade deliveries, dependent on fast and efficient road networks.
“Poorly looked-after roads peppered with holes and cracks not only hamper their ability to do business, but lead to damaged vehicles, which are often vital assets to small firms.
“These figures show just how widespread the issue is and it’s clear that governments, both national and in the East Midlands, need to sit up and take notice.
"Measures like more funding for local authorities and improving the coordination between authorities and utility providers will go some way in helping ease the burden of this ever-growing issue.”
The FOI data reveals just over 60,000 potholes were reported in the East Midlands last year, with local authorities receiving a complaint to fix a pothole every eight minutes.
In the whole of the UK, the depth of the country’s 700,000 reported potholes over the last year, is around 28km – almost 15 times deeper than the Grand Canyon.