The British Government recently announced the allocation of the first £50 million of a five-year, £250 million ‘pothole fund’ has been welcomed but doesn’t go nearly far enough, says road maintenance campaign website, Potholes.co.uk.
The site, set up in 2007 by automotive specialist, Warranty Direct, campaigning nearly ten years now for a permanent solution to the dilapidated state of the nation’s road, rather than the ‘patch and mend’ mentality currently adopted by local authorities.
March’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) report estimated that there is a 10-year backlog of potholes that need to be fixed, at a cost of £11.8 billion.
With pothole damage to suspension and axle parts on cars costing motorists an average of £350, according to Warranty Direct’s database of 50,000 live policies, Warranty Direct Chief Operating Officer Philip Ward says that the £50 million recently pledged will not bring a solution to the pothole plague.
He said: “If the Government wishes to put more money towards road maintenance, it’s very welcomed to do so. But £50 million won’t allow local authorities to carry out the repairs to the standard road users expect.”
“What this money will do is help them fill in a few potholes with the same temporary solution that has caused the massive backlog that now exists and ultimately the roads will, sadly, still be prone to potholes forming.”
“I feel more for the drivers as they are the ones travelling our road networks and unfortunately the ones who will pay for it in the short to medium term, when repairs are needed for their vehicle and they’re forced to sort out the repair bill.”
Potholes.co.uk offers motorists an outlet to post stories about pothole encounters they have suffered, warn other drivers about dangerous craters and seek advice about how to claim compensation from local authorities, with a comprehensive step-by-step column detailing how to navigate the compensation process.
Potholes.co.uk’s 10-step process to claim compensation for pothole damage
Step 1: Gather evidence
Gather evidence of the pothole as soon as you hit it. As long as it’s completely safe to do so, take photographs, measure the pothole’s width and depth and note anything else about it, such as its position on a blind corner, whether it was hidden from view, etc.
Step 2: Report the pothole
Report the pothole on Potholes.co.uk and to the relevant council or highways agency – being a “good citizen” and helping other motorists will do your case no harm.
Step 3: Submit a Freedom of Information Act
Submit a Freedom of Information Act to the relevant council or highways agency to find out how often the road is inspected and maintained.
Step 4: Don’t be deterred
If (or when!) your claim gets rejected under section 58 of the Highways Act, don’t panic – this is to be expected and not the end of the story.
Step 5: Read the national code
Download the national code of good practice for highway maintenance.
Find the code at http://www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org/roads/code_of_practice.htm
Step 6: Make your claim
Stay calm at all times – remember when contacting a council that anything you say could be read out in court, so make sure you sound professional as much as you can and never lose your temper.
Step 7: Analyse your council’s practice
Highlight both where your council’s maintenance programme mirrors the code and where it differs – this will help you consider how they may fight your claim.
Step 8: Consider your case carefully
Consider your case carefully – if the council’s inspection policy mirrors the national code and they’ve followed what they are supposed to, your claim is unlikely to succeed.
Step 9: Don’t be hasty
Don’t rush to issue Court proceedings or appoint a solicitor.
Step 10: Be willing to negotiate
Many people blame local authorities for the state of the UK’s roads – at Potholes.co.uk, we’ve always thought that is not entirely fair. Local councils do what they can to maintain the roads with the meagre road maintenance budgets they are given but it simply has never been an adequate level of funding. That’s not the local councils’ fault – it is more down to central Government to provide a more realistic maintenance budget to pay for better repairs that will last longer and start chipping away at the horrendous backlog that has built up over many years of inadequate maintenance.