Pothole compo claims rejected – even though roads are “getting worse”

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Gigantic pothole close to the entrance for the Kent and Canterbury Hospital

Kent County Council has turned down a third of all compensation claims for damage to vehicles caused by potholes because the roads they were in were due for repair.

Figures it has published show that of 995 claims, the authority rejected 342 going back to 2016.

There has been intense concern about the state of the roads in Canterbury this winter with craters opening up in places such as the New Dover Road and Whitstable Road.

On Thursday, the Canterbury Journal reported that a huge pothole had opened up right outside the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

KCC spokesman Thom Morris said: “In simple terms, the council is not liable to pay compensation if it is not aware of the problem nor liable if the problem is programmed to be fixed.

“We work hard to maintain our roads to help prevent problems such as potholes in the future.

“All claims are dealt with in accordance with sections 41 and 58 of the Highways Act 1980. Because of the legal defence available the majority of compensation claims are unsuccessful.”

Mr Morris added that the county council is to spend another £7.5 million repairing its 5,000 miles of roads.

“Because of snow and ice earlier in the year and the amount of rainfall, many more holes have appeared, but since January 1 we have filled over 20,000 potholes across the county,” he said.

“We aim to make a permanent repair by cutting out a small section of the road around the hole, clearing out the old material and filling it with new tarmac.

“If a road has lots of potholes we may need to complete a larger patch or resurface the whole section.

“For emergency potholes, we sometimes make an instant repair by quickly filling the hole. This is to make the road safe straightaway whilst we schedule a full permanent repair to prevent potholes from forming in the future.”

Edmund King, president of the AA, said that a drop in compensation payments was not because there were fewer potholes.

“We are seeing more and more patrols being called out to vehicles with punctures, with wheel damage and with suspension damage due to potholes,” he said.

“The situation is actually worse. I think they’ve just somewhat changed the rules and moved the goalposts.

“Before, we were told that if a pothole had been reported to the local highways authority you had a much higher chance of obtaining compensation.

“That used to be the case, but they move the goalposts by saying, ‘Because we’ve scheduled repair, we won’t compensate you’.”

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