Price of pot holes under scrutiny

Motorists have beebn counting the costs of damage caused by pot holes on Borders roads
Motorists have beebn counting the costs of damage caused by pot holes on Borders roads

Claims that they paid £33,000 in compensation last year because of damage caused by pot holes have been disputed by Scottish Borders Council.

Local Conservative MSP John Lamont issued a report, based on figures obtained through a freedom of information request, which claimed to show that £32,949 was given to motorists in 2012/13, most of the claims being as a result of a surface defect in the road.

The report went on to claim that some of these potholes caused extensive damage to vehicles, in one case totalling over £1,000, and Mr Lamont criticised the figures and called on the council to invest in the road infrastructure to ensure that there is a reduction in those claiming for compensation.

However, the council say that the £33,000 figure was the total paid out by the council for all compensation claims, not just motorists.

There were more claims concerning road defects, mostly pot holes, than anything else (26 of the 45 claims) ranging from £40 to £1014 - and the total paid out for damage caused by road problems came to under £7,000.

Just under £19,000 of the overall figure was the result of only four claims that did not come under a specific category; the biggest individual pay-out being for £8016.

An SBC spokesperson said: “The total of £32,949.06 covers all compensation claims against the council in 2012/13. The cost of compensation claims due to road surface defects is less than a quarter of this total.

“The council takes this matter very seriously and will continue to invest in our roads network and other areas where litigation is a risk, to mitigate against claims.

“Like Mr Lamont, Scottish Borders Council would far rather that these sums of money are spent on local services but we also have to comply with legal obligations in the same way any large organisation or Government is required to do.”

John Lamont MSP said: “Our roads have taken a battering in recent years, with successive tough winters taking their toll. It has resulted in more potholes than ever appearing, with some of them large enough to cause an extensive amount of damage to cars or cyclists who get caught out by them.

“While the situation has improved in recent years we still have a long way to go before our road network is up to standard.

“With council budgets already being stretched this is money we simply cannot afford to be giving out.

“By properly investing in our roads not only would we provide a safer environment for our motorists and cyclists, but we could save money in the long term by cutting down on these compensation claims.”