Council's defence: "We check the road annually"
16 May 2010
I hit a pothole (in December) on my bike in Cumbria, causing expensive damage. I claimed compensation from Cumbria Highways in Kendal.
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Check out www.alloywheelrepairs.net for buckled or bent pothole damaged wheels, Del can fix anything, unfortunately he does not deal directly with insurance companies, you need to do that. But he will provide reciept with damage reported on it, in order to claim against insurance companies.
It is vital to understand that local councils do not do this work unless they have offered their services to the Government - The Highways Agency. They receive Government funding to do this work. They only receive this funding by agreeing that they have a "Duty of care to ensure the safety of all road users". If a road user suffers damage &/or injury, then the council have failed in their legal duty. If you try to progress this claiming negligence by the council, you run up against legal precedents: The council cannot inspect every road every day. If they follow a process of inspection, then they will claim that if the pothole was there when inspected, then it would have been filled. So every pothole that is found must have appeared after their scheduled inspection. Hence they can deny responsibility for all pothole damage, despite being under a legal "Duty of care". Clearly this is nonsense. So where does the problem arise?rnFirstly, despite each different local authority doing the same job, there is no requirement for them to follow "best practice". Compare roads either side of county boundaries to see the effects of this omission. Leicestershire County Council are excellent, but Northamptonshire are appalling. A bad council only need to tick boxes to confirm the have inspected roads; potholes can be left due to negligence of staff, often 3rd party contract staff, who fail to spot holes. There may be no 2nd checks on accuracy of inspections. Furthermore there is financial pressure for all concerned to do a bad job. More profits for contractors to receive a contract but not to carry out repairs. Council staff who insist on a thorough job may find their expenditure exceeds budgets and their career path damaged as a result. Councillors will treat departmental heads accordingly if money is taken from pet areas of education, social services etc to deal with highway maintenance. Indeed there is a process which allows councils to divert highways budgets into other (election winning) funds. That is why the national Government has no interest in adopting best practice as it would increase their funding of local councils. The whole process is designed to achieve failure! So long as the public are kept in ignorance of the way things don't work, often by the media telling the same tired old story instead of getting at the truth, then nothing will change. It is possible to get improvements in the process, but it needs some form of public enquiry to expose the issues.
See this link http://www.potholes.co.uk/stories/search/keyword:frogpoolrnrnIt gives the outline of how to sue the council and win. I did!
Unfortunately many councils do not have the funding, time and manpower required to check their roads more frequently. This may be the case in this instance and if so there is little you can do. Some councils rely largely on their populace to act as their "eyes and ears" and maintain the roads to a certain extent by road users requiring faults they come across.rnrnIf you post this story in the "Ask advice" column our resident expert will give you his opinion on the matter and perhaps the best course of action available to you.
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