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Insurance payouts on vehicle damage caused by potholes in Suffolk more than doubled year on year, figures show

By Jason Noble, Local Democracy Reporter

Potholes. (5568185)
Potholes. (5568185)

Insurance payouts for vehicle damage caused by potholes in Suffolk more than doubled in a year, new data has revealed.

Figures published under freedom of information laws showed that, between January 1 and October 16 this year, Suffolk Highways paid out £67,819.07 in costs, which included insurance pay outs, costs and legal fees – up from £26,004.63 for 2017.

The number of claims also doubled from 598 in 2017 to 1,265 so far in 2018 – with 192 claims still not having been resolved.

A Suffolk Highways spokesman said the harsh sustained winter earlier in the year had taken its toll.

“The increase in highway related claims in 2018 is likely due to the cold and sustained winter,” he said. “It is expected that this increase will be replicated nationally.

“At this time, Suffolk Highways does not know what proportion of these claims will be successfully defended or the cost of those that will be settled.

“Roads are constantly deteriorating through general wear and tear and the detrimental impacts of winter weather.”

The highways team said its annual road conditioning statistics showed it was keeping up with the deterioration on the roads, but the cold snap of water freezing and thawing had opened up more potholes than normal.

It prompted the council to carry out a purge on the county’s roads in the spring, including carrying out many temporary repairs.

Jack Owen, Labour highways spokesman at the county council, said the repairs were too little too late and were an avoidable cost for Suffolk taxpayers.

“The figures come as no surprise,” he said. “The Labour group has been warning about the consequence of not fixing pot holes for years.

“The fact there are more than double the number of claims in 2018 that than the whole of 2017 is shocking.

“If they [the council] had undertaken the repairs when they were needed, rather than ignore the problems, and if they had looked after the roads in winter properly, none of this would have happened.

“This administration has no idea what it is doing.”

A new pilot was launched in Ipswich last month, which aims to tackle more potholes at once and cut the number of temporary fixes used.

The trial will run until April 2019 and, if successful, could be rolled out further.


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