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More pothole complaints in Kent than any other authority

Potholes in Medway
Potholes in Medway

by political editor Paul Francis

Kent County Council has been faced with more claims for damage done to cars by poorly maintained and potholed roads than any other authority over the last two years, a survey has found.

Drivers in the county lodged 4,904 claims for compensation between 2010 and 2012 after their vehicles suffered some kind of damage.

Across the UK, a total of 54,436 claims were made over the period, according to the survey based on Freedom of Information requests lodged by Britannia Rescue.

But while KCC saw the highest number of claims, it did not pay out the highest sum.

According to the survey, the authority paid £133,593 in compensation.

In contrast, Surrey county council dealt with 3,650 claims but paid out £638,239 while Essex dealt with 2,696 claims and paid out £103,567.

What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments below
What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments below

County transport chiefs recently said they would spend an extra £5m on maintaining and repairing Kent's roads this year, saying the extra investment would help secure longer-lasting fixes to stretches of road, rather than be spent on potholes.

The extra investment is in addition to the £17m already set aside by KCC to renew and resurface roads this year.

At the time of the announcement, Cllr Bryan Sweetland, cabinet member for highways, said: "This is about using council taxpayer money wisely."

The data gathered by Britannia Rescue shows that local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland paid out a total of £4.8 million in compensation for pothole or other road damage over the two years.

The combination of a wet summer and a cold winter has particularly harmed road surfaces with potholes forming after water seeps down below the road surface and freezes, loosening the asphalt.

This then thaws, and rain as well as passing traffic exacerbates the damage.

Britannia Rescue said the problem facing councils was that road maintenance in the UK was severely under-funded with just £17 spent per driver on maintaining road surfaces and fixing potholes - 11% of the annual road tax bill.

According to the data, the average repair bill is £132, with some claims as high as £3,000.

At the same time the average cost of repairing a pothole is around £50, meaning the amount paid out by councils in compensation could have been used to repair more than 96,000 potholes.

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